Department of English, Cal State L.A. | Jan. 7, 2013 | Spotlight

Cal State L.A. students campaign for spaying, neutering of pets

Unique English class collaborates with animal shelters in surrounding communities

When a group of Cal State L.A. students enrolled in the Composition II class at Cal State L.A. this past 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, we were challenged to ask compelling questions and seek answers while working with local animal shelters,” said Hasiba Munshi, a student in the Composition II class.

Pictured: CSULA student Ebony Ciego and Professor Ragana at animal shelter. (Photo by Frank Wise)
L-r: CSULA student Ebony Ciego and Professor Ragana grooming a puppy for a Glamour Shot at the Baldwin Park Animal Care Center. Pictured: CSULA student Mariana Rodriguez and Professor Ragana at animal shelter. (Photo by Frank Wise)
L-r: CSULA student Mariana Rodriguez and Professor Ragana posing a puppy at a photo booth during the Baldwin Park Glamour Shot Day, which is coordinated by the United Hope for Animals.

Taught by English faculty instructor Lollie Ragana, the class—themed “animals in danger”—also provided the students service-learning and outreach opportunities within the community. Of course, they also had to complete a substantial amount of reading and research, specifically about endangered animals and pet overpopulation.

“The English composition class provided our team with necessary techniques for research as well as literary tools for communication,” said Irene Womack, another student 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.”

Some of the students even shadowed Ragana during the United Hope for Animals’ Glamour Shot Days last October to learn more about the Baldwin Park Animal Care Center. Glamour photos and videos are taken biweekly of homeless dogs and cats to encourage and increase pet adoption.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports that “approximately five million to seven million companion animals enter shelters nationwide every year, and approximately three million to four 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 CSULA students were assigned to work in teams to put together campaigns to encourage spaying and neutering of dogs in Southern California.

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

With their focus on spaying and neutering pets and for animal adoption at the Downey Animal Care Center, Womack and Dabin Lee presented the “Protect Your Dog, So It Can Protect You!” campaign proposal.

“Dabin and I were able to realize the accessibility of low-cost animal clinics despite fiscal predicaments,” said Womack. “The paramount barrier between people who do and do not alter their pet has cultural roots. We proposed 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 designed for families to be held in Long Beach.

The proposed event will feature music, raffle prizes, a petting area, information and books regarding spaying/neutering, a coloring station, pet costume and dog racing contests, and a representative from Petfinder to help with the adoption of 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, during the team’s PowerPoint presentation.

Ragana explained that her students all learn much more when they get to apply the lesson in real and meaningful situations.

“I can observe improvements in their writing when they care about what they’re writing about,” she said. “And, it’s great knowing that they can make a difference in their communities.”

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