Pet adoption event spreads awareness

St George, Utah freshman Austin Mild holds seven-month-old Staffordshire Tatum Thursday night at the Pre-Veterinarian Medical Association adoption event. Liesje Powers | Multimedia Editor

By Madalyn Watson | Reporter

The Baylor Pre-Veterinary Medical Association had their first all-university event, Adoptions and Awareness, from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday on Fountain Mall.

Fort Worth senior Megan Dillman, president of the Pre-Veterinary Medical Association, explained the goals of the group.

“Our goal is twofold. One, to educate the future vets that are at Baylor and then two, is to serve with the intention of improving animal health and welfare in Waco and around the world,” Dillman said.

The Adoptions and Awareness event included many options for entertainment and treats, such as a Pokey-O’s truck serving ice cream sandwiches, free Tiff’s Treats cookies, games and a homemade baked treat sale.

The main attraction of the event was dogs from the Humane society of Central Texas looking for a home with a Baylor student.

“We’re also just trying to educate some of the students about adopting dogs and volunteering with the Humane society,” Dillman said.

Fort Worth junior Kaley VanValkenburg, vice president of the Pre-Veterinary Medical Association, planned the Adoptions and Awareness event to increase the association’s on-campus presence.

“Many of our members volunteer regularly at the Humane Society here and so we’re trying to increase that awareness on Baylor’s campus that the Humane society really needs volunteers,” VanValkenburg said.

The proceeds of the baked goods, puppy chow and stickers sale will help fund the association’s future trip to Guatemala to work with an animal welfare organization called Animal Aware in May.

“The environment [in Guatemala] is so different from the animal obsession that there is in the United States — like everyone loves dogs and cats and so many people adopt,” VanValkenburg said.

VanValkenburg said Animal Aware is taking care of about 400 homeless animals at a time and the members of the Pre-Veterinary Medical Association who join the mission trip help take care of these dogs, horses, cats, chickens and other forgotten animals.

“Dogs get hardly any social time with humans, which makes them less adoptable, which makes more dogs stay in that shelter — so our motive is to provide as much care and comfort whether it means us being there or raising money for them here in any way we can,” VanValkenburg said.

These students provide socialization and positive human interaction for the animals they work with through Animal Aware, as well as the Humane society.

“It’s literally classical conditioning. The more positive human interaction that these dogs receive, the more adoptable they’re going to be, the more sociable they’re going to be, the more they’re going to be happier around people,” VanValkenburg said.

Dillman said the event is not just to encourage students and give them an opportunity to adopt.

“If you can’t adopt, volunteer and help get the dogs socialized for people because there are a lot of animals in the shelter and sometimes the volunteers have a hard time walking them all, getting them that exercise, and it’s so good for their mental and physical health,” Dillman said.

Dillman said even if students who came to the Adoptions and Awareness event did not adopt or cannot volunteer, hopefully they think about adopting from a rescue rather than buying from a breeder or a pet shop when they can have a pet in the future.

“The more that you feed into the demand for puppies from breeders, the more they’re going to be pets in the shelter,” Dillman said.

Dillman also said students might shy away from the event and adoption in general because they would be worried they could not handle an animal with issues.

“Every dog and cat is different and has their own personality. Some of them may have had bad experiences before they got to the shelter, and others may not have,” Dillman said.

However, two of the puppies the Humane society brought to the event were adopted that evening by Baylor students.

Canyon Lake sophomore Riley Tompkins, the Pre-Veterinary Medical Association’s social chair, had experience with the adoption process since she recently adopted her pitbull, Hazel, from the Humane Society of Central Texas.

“I got her from the Humane Society two months ago. I was kind of just there volunteering with our group and I fell in love with her,” Tompkins said.

The Humane Society said Hazel had been a stray for two years before, so moving in with Tompkins was a huge change for the pitbull.

“She was like deemed aggressive, but I don’t have any roommates or other dogs, so I was like ‘I’ll take a chance on her.’ And she’s been the best dog ever,” Tompkins said.

Tompkins said the process of adopting Hazel from the Humane society was relatively simple; however, when she brought her new dog home, she had several medical problems.

“Now that she’s all up to health, she’s one of the best and she’s doing really well. We were worried about her, but she’s good now,” Tompkins said.

Tompkins had success with her adoption from the Humane Society and helped the other students at the Adoptions and Awareness event through the process of finding and adopting their own animal companion.

“I think the Humane Society is the best way to go,” Tompkins said.