Honors College, Cal State L.A. | Jan. 7, 2013 | Spotlight

A campaign to spay and neuter pet dogs

Honors students reach out to communities thru class project

Photo: CSULA student at shelter.
Photo: Prof. Ragana at shelter.

When a group of Honors College student enrolled in the Composition I class at Cal State L.A. this fall, they didn’t expect to visit animal shelters as part of their class curriculum.

“Besides learning about grammar usage, rhetoric and theory, literature and essay writing, the class challenged us to ask meaningful questions and seek answers through working with local animal shelters,” said Hasiba Munshi, a student enrolled in Ragana’s class.

Taught by English faculty instructor Lollie Ragana, the class—themed “animals in danger”—provided the students a service-learning opportunity to outreach to the community. Of course, they also had to complete a lot of reading and research, specifically about endangered animals and the problem with overpopulation among pets.

“The English composition class provided our team with necessary techniques for research as well as literary tools for communication,” said Irene Womack, another student enrolled in Ragana’s class. “The service learning component of the class enabled us to move forward in confidence as our team put research and writing skills to work.”

During the United Hope for Animals’ Glamour Shot Days last October, some CSULA Honors College students shadowed Ragana to learn more about the Baldwin Park Animal Care Center. Glamour photos and videos are taken biweekly of the homeless dogs and cats, in order for these pets to be adopted or rescued.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports that “approximately 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter shelters nationwide every year, and approximately 3 million to 4 million are euthanized.”

Additionally, the American Pet Products Association indicates that “only 10 percent of the animals received by shelters have been spayed or neutered, while 78 percent of pet dogs and 88 percent of pet cats are spayed or neutered.”

As part of their final project, the Honors College students were assigned to work in teams to put together campaigns to encourage spaying and neutering of dogs in Southern California.

Their goal was to help reduce the overpopulation of dogs and cats, which in turn lessens the suffering of all the pets that end up euthanized in shelters.

“Each group chose a specific audience to address, researched issues related to that audience and why people don’t spay or neuter,” Ragana said. “They worked on PowerPoint presentations and flyers, in order to outreach and educate their audience on the importance of spaying or neutering.”

With a focus on raising awareness for spaying and neutering pets and to adopt an animal from your local shelter, Womack and Dabin Lee presented the "Protect Your Dog, So It Can Protect You!" campaign proposal.

“Although fiscal burdens are popular predicaments, Dabin and I, through basic research, were able to realize the accessibility to low-cost animal clinics surpasses availability of surgery funds,” said Womack. “The paramount barrier between people who do or do not alter their pet has cultural roots. We propose to present basic pet alteration education and answer frequently asked questions, while promoting the spay/neuter approach to protect dogs and cats.”

Another team—comprised of Munshi, Blanca Colmenares, and Nathalie Hernandez—presented an event campaign to be held in Long Beach, CA, in order to reach families and all age groups.

The proposed event featured music, raffle prizes, a petting area, information and books on spaying/neutering, coloring station, pet costume contest, dog racing contest, and a representative from Petfinder to help adopt spayed/neutered dogs.

“We also plan to go to local schools to inform students about the benefits of neutering or spaying their pets,” said Munshi, as mentioned in her team’s PowerPoint slide.

Ragana indicated that the students all learn much more when they get to apply the lesson outside of the classroom.

She said, “I can observe improvements in their writing when they are concerned about what they’re writing about.”

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