The AWC Gets Some Kitty Love While Giving Back to the Animals

Last weekend, I took my Animal Welfare Club to Frankie’s Friends to help volunteer at a cat rescue!

For those of  you who do not know, Frankie’s Friends is a cat sanctuary and organization that focus’ on helping feral cats, cats from abuse cases, and stray cats.  It  has a mobile surgery unit for traveling places TNR events, and it also houses all of the survivors of the Tiger Ranch case.  So, for our service project this month we went to Frankie’s Friends for the day to cuddle cats and help repaint some of the darker rooms and give them a warmer and homier touch.

Frankie’s Friends is like kitty Disney World.  These cats have a huge, three story house to roam through, their own sun room, loft beds, their own live in vet tech, a safe outdoor cat porch and gazebo with little cat doors leading in and out, and all the toys, scratching posts, and kitty beds they could ever want.  Many of the cats have chronic health problems and will have to be monitored for veterinary care, so living at Frankie’s Friends with all their kitty friends is the best option for them.

These are probably the sweetest cats I’ve ever met.  I must admit, before I started working with Dr. Morrow, I wasn’t a huge cat person.  They were probably one of my least favorite animals to own as a pet.  However, now I really see what wonderful animals they can be!  The FF cats are amazing.  They’re at the door as soon as you walk in, and you are surrounded by a sea of cats.  They’re all purring and rubbing up against you, and some get saucy and try to bat their friends away so they get more petting.  They don’t mind being picked up and cuddled or toted around the house with you.  Trying to motivate my members to actually leave the cats alone and paint the walls was a little challenging, but once we got started they were all game for the work.  

It was amazing how quickly the rooms came together when we all started working together on them.  We painted one room a pale yellow, which totally transformed the room, and we painted the loft room lavender with white trim.  It was so cute!  

That cats did not appreciate being banished to the upstairs loft for the day, as we tried to cut down on the amount of cat hair we got on the walls and paw prints on the floor.  Orion, one of the older members of the sanctuary, sat downstairs to oversee our work, but everyone else wasn’t very happy. Being that they are color blind, I’m sure they didn’t see a point.  But the house looks a lot better now.  

I love rescue animals.  I love everything about rescues, but I think most of all I love knowing that I helped make a difference for an animal who couldn’t.  Let’s face it, animals don’t have voices.  We have to speak for them.  Without dedicated people in the world who take the time to speak for the animals, their lives would be nothing more than an existence that always ended in abuse or neglect.  One thing I see in my members, and I’m sure this sounds totally cheesy, is hope for animals.  There’s a slow shift in the relationship between humans and animals.  Eventually, we are going to look at ourselves as the protectors of the animals and the providers, instead of looking at them as though they are here to please us.  My AWC  members remind me on a daily basis that there is hope, and there are people out there who want to help, and who want to make a difference.  That’s why education about animals, animal abuse, and animal health is so important.  The government does not fund a free program to teach people about pets in high school. They’re not part of our curriculum.  We need active and dedicated people to spread the message and educate people about those who can’t educate them themselves.  Everyday, the animals make me sure that this is what I want to do with my life, and everyday, my AWC members remind me that there are people who care, just like me, who want to be a part of the movement.

The AWC Visits the National Aviary!

For our first off campus animal experience of the year, I like to take our new Animal Welfare Club members to visit the National Aviary.  Its close, its affordable, its highly educational, and the aviary does a terrific job of getting all my members interested and involved with the animals.  I like that everyone gets their hands on a bird.  Theres no better way to get people interested than to let them actually interact with them.

So, on Saturday we all met and hiked over to the North Side.  My mom and my sister were recruited into our group due to our sudden drop in numbers, so they met us and walked over with us.  I like making everyone walk because it saves money, saves gas, and lets everyone get a chance to walk through the city and see everything as well as talk to each other.  And soon we were there!!

I rushed everyone to the first feeding, as I usually do, because I like getting everyone involved as fast as possible.  I find that when I suggest the aviary, I get a lot of deep sighs and dragged feet.  Unfortunately, its usually overshadowed by the much more well known Pittsburgh Zoo.  However, once I get everyone there and get them all going, they seem to enjoy it a lot more.  Even though the zoo has more animals, the aviary definately has more interactive possibilities.  Here are some my members feeding some rainforest birds!

We then rushed to get in line to feed the lories.  Feeding the lories is probably my favorite thing, because it means I get to get my picture taken with exotic birds on me!  Even after owning my own parrots, I still feel like a little kid at Christmas when all the Bella sized colorful parrots begin flocking to me.  I think it has something pyschologically to do with the idea that ‘they like me! they like me!’, not just ‘they want the nector’.

Everyone had some time to roam and explore before we took our Training 101 class.  I was super excited about taking a bird related class because, well, I’m a weirdo.  I very much so enjoyed the class, and learned a lot that I feel will help me when I’m trying to train stubborn Bella.  I have yet to find something that will motivate that conure.  We also got to meet the beautiful Gonzo, a yellow naped amazon, who was hilarious.  She reminded me of another little green bird that likes to growl and make her handler a liar. . . We also played a game where we made Chris be a bird that we had to train.  Here we are trying to train Chris to do jumping jacks.

After our class, we followed our instructor over for the Wings! show.  I had to choose between Wings and the skydeck, and even though I’ve never seen the skydeck and I know Lance was furious at me for not choosing the skydeck, I felt like Wings was more general for all of our members and would be a good ambassador to the bird world.  As I predicted, everyone was amazed and most of my members flooded the stage to donate money to saving the birds.

For the first trip of the year, it was a great start!  I think all my members who went enjoyed themselves and I think they are all excited for the rest of the year and the things we have coming!

The AWC

I’m pretty sure I’ve never posted about the AWC before, which is quite frankly a damn shame.  It’s about time I let the world know about my creation.  AWC is short for animal welfare club.  Duquesne University’s animal welfare club to be precise. 

Let me start this off by saying that Duquesne University is not a very animal oriented college.  In fact, although we may rank as one of the top universities in the country for volunteer service, as a student I have noticed that not many people are really concerned with anything important.  I love my college and I wouldn’t change my choice for the world, but Duquesne gains its massive amounts of service hours through requirements in majors like pharmacy and service learning classes.  AKA the students are required.  There are a fair number of people who genuinely are concerned with issues like fair trade, the environment, and human and animal rights, but there are also a large amount of the population who cares only about themselves, the latest fashion, and everything else that doesn’t matter. 

So, when I started here I realized there wasn’t anything animal oriented, except for the equestrian team, which required far too much money for me to afford.  I was frustrated, I didn’t have any friends, and I missed all my pets from home.  So, I did what any well intending college student would do and I started my own!

The Animal Welfare Club comes from rough beginnings.  It took us a whole semester to get approved by the SGA, we met on the couches outside of the union Nitespot and when we finally were approved, we had really no clue what to do.  Last year, we totalled 8 members.  This year, we’re averaging around 30 at each meeting.  That’s a big jump. 

My members come from all different majors and all different backgrounds.  We meet in a large classroom and try to plan out what all we would like to do for the rest of the year.  This year so far has been slow, but gradually we are putting the pieces together to build it into something great.   My 8 members from last year have all been upgraded to committee members who help me plan everything that needs done.  Between all the paperwork, red tape, and planning, it is a full-time job to be a club president.

For this year, we are planning on doing advocacy tables monthly, going to a shelter or other animal attraction at least once a month, and hopefully helping out with some different shelter events.  I’m trying to ease my members into the scary world of reptiles and birds and expose them to more exotics.  Most of these kids have only had cats or dogs in their lives!  We’re also starting to work towards endangered species instead of just pet type animals.  It’s a slow but steady process trying to plan everything.  However, hopefully soon the AWC will grow into something great!  And from now on, I have to remember to post about it!  It’s definately a big part of my path to become a vet!

DU Animal Welfare Club visits the national aviary!

The first public outing my club went to was one of my favorite places: the aviary! 

When I first brought up the idea of visiting the aviary, I got a lot of mixed emotion.  Mostly it was like. . .ehhh birdsss. . . . . . . Luckily, I knew that the aviary, while it IS all birds, has the best mix of hands on activities to make your ehhh birdsssss into YAY BIRDSSSS!

So, our bus never came.  I made everyone walk there. 

We finally got there, and everyone started to see it my way. 

Everything about the aviary is wonderful.  The birds are wonderful, the trainers are wonderful, the activities are wonderful.  All of our members got to participate in a hands on feeding activity.  And most left the avairy wanting their own bird lol. 

It makes me totally excited for Lance’s future!