The Chester County SPCA has been flooded with donations for the dogs rescued from the so-called puppy mill in Oxford over the past few weeks.

What they haven't received is the money raised by one sixth grade student from Elk Ridge School who felt the need to help.

After reading of the bad conditions in which the 335 dogs had been living, Bessa Houseknecht, 12, decided to do something to help. She decided to collect money for the SPCA at Elk Ridge.

"I put out collection boxes, plastic canisters," Houseknecht said. "I did some research on the Chester County SPCA and typed up some information to put on the canisters."

The collection canisters were placed in three different locations throughout Elk Ridge, in the office, cafeteria, and her homeroom.

"She read an article about the dogs going to the SPCA," said her mother, Deborah. "She wasn't real crazy about the way they were keeping the dogs. It got her frustrated the way they were being treated."

Bessa cited her longtime love for dogs as her motivation to help the SPCA's cause.

"I'm obsessed with dogs," Bessa said. "I've wanted one for eight years."

Bessa collected money Monday through Friday last week and was able to raise $150.

"There were a lot of dollar bills, a couple 20s, and fives," Deborah said. "The teachers really helped out a lot."

Deborah said the faculty at Elk Ridge was extremely helpful and willing to help out with Bessa's donation efforts.

"She struck while the iron was hot. A lot of people were talking about it," Deborah said. "The folks at Elk Ridge were great. They didn't second-guess her motives. They were supportive. Mrs. Addis found one of her students was genuinely interested and said let's do it."

Along with the check, Bessa is sending a note to the SPCA explaining exactly what she did and why she raised the money.

"She's going to write a note telling her story and what she's done, so it's not just a check showing up," Deborah said.

Without having any expectations of how the school, its students and facility would respond, Bessa was pleased with how things turned out.

"It feels pretty good that I did something good," Bessa said. "I can't believe somebody would do something like that (to the dogs)."

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