Animal-health students forge partnership with humane society
The first two graduates of the recently implemented animal health program has teamed up with the Edmonton Humane Society to help pet owners provide better care for their animals.
Rebecca Proulx and Alicia Glasier designed 13 new kinds of pamphlets for the society, which are designed to educate pet owners on caring for their animals.
The pamphlets, which were part of their senior capstone course, cover a wide range of topics, from basic care of cats, dogs, birds, rabbits and ferrets, to the roles and intentions of the society and the basic details of the Animal Protection Act.
“We visited the humane society to try and assess how we could help and, after riding along with the protection officers, we saw that they had trouble getting into people’s houses,” said Glasier. “The residents won’t often answer the door because they have this misconception that the officers are dogcatchers and that they’ve come to take their animals away, so we thought we might design some materials to leave with the pet owners to help them consider what behaviours they needed to change.”
The students said they were surprised to discover that the majority of complaints the officers responded to involved malnutrition and unintentional negligence rather than physical abuse of animals, which suggested to them that most problems stemmed from owners not knowing how to care for their animals, as opposed to any kind of malice.
Craig Wilkinson, chair of the bachelor of science in animal health program committee, says that, in addition to helping the society, local animals and their owners, the experience may prove invaluable for the students because getting a first-hand view of the shelter, the cases and the people involved in them will help them appreciate the numerous factors involved in animal welfare.
“It’s important for students in animal health to understand the material presented in their courses,” he said, “but it’s also essential that they have a real feet-on-the-ground understanding of the complexity involved in animal welfare cases.
“We’re just in the initial stages of developing this relationship,” he added, “but other courses, such as the introductory course in animal health and the companion animal behaviour class, are also going to be interacting with the Humane Society so we’re looking forward to being able to collaborate in a number of different areas.”
Shawna Randolph, communications director for the humane society, said the organization is excited about the potential for further collaboration with the animal health students, and was confident that the materials developed by Proulx and Glasier would prove effective in helping pet owners.
“They’ve put together a fabulous information package for us,” she said. “It’s got great information about who we are and what kinds of services we offer the public, as well as information about what sorts of things potential pet owners should think about before getting a companion animal, so it’s really widely varied and we just love it.”
This year, seven students will be taking the same capstone course Glasier and Proulx took. Wilkinson, who teaches the course, said the students will be undertaking another project with the Edmonton Humane Society.