What a Treat: PETsident, Vice-PETsident Crowned


Shira Berukhim, 9th grader (left) and Yael Berukhim, 12th grader (right) Belle (dog in the middle)

It’s time for a Pali paws. 

Let’s give a round of applause to Pali’s first PETsident and Vice-PETsident. Lauren Zaidel’s dog Teddy and Molly Cohen’s dog Hammy earned the titles on March 10, when the Associated Student Body (ASB) staged the playful fundraiser.

To prepare for the contest, ASB established an application with questions to get to know the contestants and their talents. Senior class representative Kayla Sadaghani explained that ASB modeled the pet application after the actual leadership application, adding, “Of course, it was more fun and lenient.” 

With all types of pets welcome in the competition, ASB received a wide variety of applications from owners of pets ranging from dogs to chameleons. Freshman Shira Berukhim applied on behalf of her dog, Belle, and said she believed that even against strong competition, Belle had a good chance of winning. “My dog, Belle, has many great qualities like twirling and pawing,” Berukhim said. “She’s also very funny, smart and cute, so I think that’s what separates her from the other pets.”

Like many of the other contestants, Berukhim shares a connection with her pet. “My relationship with Belle is amazing,” she said. “She’s watched me grow up, so we have that special bond.”

During the voting period, pet owners worked to increase exposure for their pets. Berukhim said that she campaigned for Belle by telling her family, friends and classmates to vote for her.

Voting took place on the Pali webstore. In an effort to raise money for the Visual and Performing Arts department and an organization called Best Friends Animal Society, ASB charged $1 per vote and allowed each voter to donate up to $10. They ended up raising a total of $282 and will be donating 20 percent of the funds to the shelter and putting the remainder back into the school.  

“We did some research and made sure to avoid any shelters that had controversy,” Sadaghani said. “The Best Friends Animal Society looked like they had a clean slate, and we were already familiar with them, so it seemed like the best option.”

After the competition, ASB gave the winners personalized gift baskets. “We asked the owners what their pets’ favorite treats are, so that we could create a basket based on their favorite toy or treat,” Sadaghani said. “We wanted to give them something they’ll enjoy.” The winners will also have the opportunity to post weekly updates on the ASB Instagram, @palihighgram.

The winners declined to comment.

Before the winners were announced, some owners had already begun planning their Instagram takeovers. Berukhim shared some of her favorite ideas. 

“We have lots of costumes, so we can dress Belle up. She’s a very fast learner, so we can teach her tricks and post them,” she said. “Also, we can send some encouraging words to the students.”

Even though Belle lost the election, Berukhim plans to continue posting updates on Belle’s social media accounts. Those interested in supporting Belle and Berukhim can follow @belleisdog on TikTok and Instagram.

Because ASB saw a high level of involvement from the under-classmen like Berukhim in this initiative, Sadaghani said that they will probably continue to hold pet elections in future years, with some minor alterations. 

Sadaghani is hopeful that when Pali returns to in-person learning, ASB will add merchandise and provide more opportunities for students to interact with the Pawliament.

Reflecting back on the competition, Sadaghani said, “I enjoyed looking through the applications and seeing how creative people were and seeing how funny the answers were.” 

Berukhim added, “This activity was my personal favorite because the whole idea of a Pawliament is creative and all the dog-related words really made me laugh.”