UT staffer wins Jefferson Award for educating troubled teens while helping to prevent animal cruelty [video]

March 7, 2014 | Features, UToday
By Samantha Watson

After serving as a foster and advocate for pit bulls, Cindy Reinsel wanted to do even more. So she created Toledo’s PET Bull Project to educate and encourage proper pet care and prevent animal cruelty.

The local nonprofit organization works to PET: Prevent animal cruelty and dog fighting, Educate on the importance to spay and neuter, and Train pets and people to be breed advocates. It accomplishes these goals through a variety of initiatives and would not be possible without Reinsel’s tireless efforts.

“I came up with the idea for the project because I thought we really needed an education program here in Toledo,” Reinsel said. “We have some really awesome rescues that work hard and do a great job, but nobody is out there working with our youth to teach them what it means to own a pet and what animal cruelty is.”

The PET Bull Project works with animal trainers to educate the community about proper pet care as well as offers low-cost training to animals. One of the biggest initiatives is the Teacher’s Pet Program, where at-risk youth train hard-to-adopt rescue dogs from local organizations and learn proper care of the animals and how to prevent animal cruelty.

“Growing up in a really rough neighborhood, I really wanted to be able to work with teens,” Reinsel said. “I think the Teacher’s Pet Program is a good mix of helping our youth learn responsibility and skills for training dogs, and helps the rescue dogs find a forever home.”

The Teacher’s Pet Program is one of several offered by the Reinsel’s PET Bull Project. Read more at toledospetbullproject.com.


Reinsel, who also fosters dogs for Planned Pethood, has been a secretary in the Department of Pediatrics at The University of Toledo for almost 16 years and is just as dedicated to her work as she is to her cause. That was part of the reason why Brenda Ballmer, her supervisor, nominated her for a Jefferson Award.

“She’s never been afraid to take on a new task,” Ballmer, administrator in the Pediatrics Department, said. “I really admire her passion and the fact that she doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer, especially if it stands in the way of furthering her mission.”

Reinsel was awarded the UT Jefferson Award for Public Service in November.

“I was so surprised,” Reinsel said. “I do it because I love it. I love working with the teens, and I love seeing the dogs getting trained. For someone to nominate me for something I enjoy so much — I was just shocked.”

To volunteer or donate to Toledo’s PET Bull Project, contact Reinsel at director@toledospetbullproject.com or visit toledospetbullproject.com.

To nominate someone for a Jefferson Award, visit utoledo.edu/jeffersonaward.

Click to access the login or register cheese