By Bridget Sjoberg | Staff Writer
A passion for helping and serving local animals brought together Dallas sophomore Katherine Ricci and Austin sophomore Emmy Frigo, leading the girls to establish their own campus club.
Ricci and Frigo met as members of Baylor’s Pre-Veterinary Society where they both spent time volunteering at the Humane Society of Central Texas, a large animal shelter located by Valley Mills. The girls both grew up with a love for animals and service, but they couldn’t find a club on campus that fulfilled their desire to volunteer not specifically geared towards an academic field.
“I’ve always loved animals — my mom is a vet, so I’ve grown up seeing them all the time,” Frigo said. “I got to Baylor and really missed my dogs. I was Pre-Vet and saw that the Humane Society needed volunteers, so I began helping. Katherine and I realized that there wasn’t really a club for people that aren’t Pre-Vet who want to help animals.”
After discovering this campus need and spending time together volunteering for the Humane Society, Ricci and Frigo decided to begin the work necessary for starting a campus service club, and the Baylor Animal Rescue Club was born. A primary goal of the club is to raise awareness for stray animals in Waco and to educate students on how to best help the issue.
“Our main goal is to raise awareness of the stray animal problem in Waco — it’s huge,” Frigo said. “It’s more than just the cats you see around campus — the surrounding county has a huge amount of stray dogs. It’s a big deal, so we want to get the dogs out and seen.”
Ricci agrees, hoping the club helps encourage students to get involved in volunteering at Humane Society, a spot always in need of extra help.
“We want to create exposure for the Humane Society,” Ricci said. “It’s so close to campus — right by Magnolia Table. They always need volunteers and help.”
Members of the club have the chance to volunteer both at the Humane Society upon going through an orientation and can take dogs for walks and adoption events outside of the shelter environment by becoming a Humane Society ambassador.
“Volunteering entails taking the dogs out of their kennels and into playpens, and once ambassadors, you can take dogs on campus and into Waco for organized groups events,” Ricci said. “We’ve considered dog adoption events on campus, and educational presentations on the importance of fixing your dogs and what to do if you find a stray animal.”
Frigo has found volunteering and helping animals to be a rewarding experience, especially when the animals she cares for find a loving home.
“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the dogs — there’s some dogs you see every single time, and you just love them,” Frigo said. “There’s the hard part where you don’t know if they will ever find a home, but there’s also the good part where you find them a home and are so happy for them. Seeing them finally get their happy ending is very rewarding.”
Ricci has also enjoyed forming connections with the shelter animals and especially loves adoption days at the Humane Society.
“One time, me and Emmy were at the Humane Society on a Saturday for a free adoption day, and we adopted over six dogs between the two of us,” Ricci said. “Knowing that those dogs will have good homes and a place to go that’s not a shelter is a great experience.”
In the future, the girls plan to make the club present on social media and make logos and t-shirts to promote the club on campus. They are also finishing the process of registering the club as an official service organization, so members could potentially receive service hours for classes or other groups.
Ricci and Frigo advise students looking to get involved to reach out to them via Baylor email and to attend the group’s first official meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday on Fountain Mall. Ricci encourages students looking to start a campus group for something they are passionate about to stay persistent and focus on service as a foundation.
“It’s good to find someone that’s as passionate as you are and work with them,” Ricci said. “Being persistent is important since there’s a lot of loopholes to get through, so if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing it will be hard to push through.”
Frigo remains committed to finding a way to better help animals in Waco and is excited for the future of the new club.
“We want people to take any opportunity they can to serve,” Frigo said. “We want to give students the chance to help animals and make a change in the Waco community.”