Civic Engagement

Civic Engagement

Animal welfare has always been important to me. My parents taught me to love animals at an early age. My family has 3 dogs and 5 cats. The majority of these animals have been rescued in some form or fashion. Some came from off the street and some came from an owner who wasn't devoting the necessary time to the animal. When Bob Barker was on The Price Is Right, he always said to be sure and spay and neuter your pets. My family does just that. It is a standing rule in our house that none of cats and dogs can have kittens or puppies.

The Humane Society University is the training division of The Humane Society of the United States. Just like the Humane Society of the United States, the university is a private, non-profit organization. The university offers on-site workshops, online courses, certificates, and academic programs to help further a person’s education in human-animal studies. The Humane Society already helps the community and nation by saving animals. This university is another way for them to give back and to educate more people and future generations. This would be a great place for anyone wanting to get into the animal science field and provide a service to the community at the same time.

Our civic engagement group learned about three issues related to animal welfare: puppy mills, horse soaring, and dissection. Puppy mills are a big problem in the United States.  Puppy mills contribute to pet overpopulation and cause countless dogs to suffer in wired cages. These cages are often in bad condition and the overall living conditions for the dogs are even worse. The first thing you need to do to raise awareness about puppy mills is to get the word out. I knew about puppy mills before the presentation but I did not know how bad it was. Thanks to the presentation we saw, I am more informed and can help curb and eventually end the use of puppy mills. Becoming more aware is not the only thing you can do to help stop puppy mills. The Humane Society has a pledge that you can sign to help end them. You can also write to your Senator or Congressman and ask them to support any laws that would help end puppy mills. Asking  local pet stores to be puppy friendly is another way of advocating for the end of puppy mills. This means having a policy of not selling puppies at the store. The next thing you can do is to write a letter to the editor of your local newspapers. Ask them to help support the end of puppy mills. Another one that people do not usually think about is to take flyers to the local veterinarian. These flyers help potential owners know about and avoid puppy mills. It will be a long process to end puppy mills because people will always do whatever is necessary to make a profit. Hopefully one day, we can live in a society where there are no puppy mills.



Horse soring is in a somewhat similar situation as puppy mills. I knew a little about puppy mills but I did not know horse soring existing until I saw the presentation on it. I didn't even know that horses participated in competitions that dealt with their gait. I was surprised at how much cruelty was shown to these horses. This brings me back to the point I made about getting the word out there. I did not know about horse soring so I am sure that there are a bunch of other people that have no idea horse soring exists. The quote "there is power in numbers" comes into play here. The more people that know about it, the more of a chance you will have a large number of people advocating to end it. There are many other things besides becoming aware that you can do to help stop the soring of horses. Just like for the puppy mills, you can write to your Senator or Representative and ask them to support the bill that would prevent all soring tactics. You can also speak out through the media and educate the equestrian community on the inhumanness of soring. Last but not least, you can call the Human Society’s hotline if you hear of any soring taking place in your area.

In my opinion, dissection is in a different category of animal welfare issues than puppy mills and horse soring. Puppy mills and horse soring is blatant cruelty of animals. When you are dissecting, you are studying the animal and trying to increase your knowledge of that animal. People do not think about where the animals come from when they are used for education. This was the case for me, at least. When I was in high school, I had to dissect a frog and a cat. I did not want to dissect these animals but I was required to for the class. I did not know that there were alternatives available. Again, this brings me back to the point of getting the word out about animal welfare issues. If people do not know that there are alternatives to dissection, they will continue to believe that dissection is the only way to learn about that animal. Another hurdle alternatives activists would run into is that educators would say that you do not learn enough from alternatives or that having hands on experiences with the animals is better than using the alternatives. I am by no means advocating dissection. I am just pointing out the problems that an activist for alternatives might run into. In the end, you have to make sure as many people as possible know about alternatives. That way, they can make the choice to either dissect or use alternatives.

I was a part of the t-shirt team. We were in charge of getting the word out about the t-shirts. This was mainly done through social media. For future students, I would continue to spread the word through social media sites. Also, talk to the people that run The Washington Center's social media. See if they will post about the t-shirts and adoption events on Facebook and Twitter.



I really enjoyed the adoption event. I am more of a hands-on type person so I really liked working with the dogs. That is one thing that I would like to do in the local shelter back home. Whenever they have adoption events, I would like to be a handler of some of the animals. I am glad the event went so well that Lucky Dog is going to do two events next semester and is bringing twenty to thirty dogs. Because of this, more students and people will get the enjoyment of seeing and being around the dogs.


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