:: SHARE promotes animal protection
Anyone on campus last fall saw the banner adorning Moseley Center proclaiming that Elon tops the nation in community service.
The Corporation for National and Community Service thought Elon had it all: tutor and mentor programs, Project Pericles, Service Learning Courses and America Reads. But Elon’s community service seems to be lacking in one key area – animal protection.
This banner was inspiration for junior Sam Slaughter’s animal foster care program on campus.
Last year, Slaughter’s anthropology professor Anne Bolin assigned her students the task of finding a solution for a problem at Elon. Slaughter, who fosters dogs at his home in New Jersey, thought it might help the community if students did the same thing here.
Slaughter’s idea was to bring dogs from local animal shelters, such as the Pet Adoption Center of Burlington and the Guilford County Animal Shelter, to live with students in apartments on campus. The students would undergo a training program with the dog to acclimate it to a home environment, spay or neuter the dog and participate in community programs to make people more aware of the prevalence of shelter programs.
According to the Humane Society, about 70 percent of animals that enter shelters nationwide are euthanized simply because they do not have a home. Slaughter’s proposed program would take dogs out of the shelters, allowing room for other dogs to be taken in and eliminating care expenses for shelters.
Slaughter’s plan had originally involved making the first floor of the Oaks building D into a dog-friendly floor and, should the program succeed, making the second floor of the building cat-friendly the following year.
Although 85 percent of students surveyed about the program had thought it was a good idea, Slaughter met several obstacles. First, the idea would need approval not only from University officials but also from the Board of Trustees.
“It would be a radical step,” said Slaughter. Only a handful of colleges and universities across the nation have pet-friendly campuses, including UCLA, MIT, Vassar College, SUNY, University of Pennsylvania and Eckerd College, but many allow only cats or small animals.
Property insurance was another main concern because there are not many insurance companies that would be willing to back an apartment building that houses animals.
Slaughter has since become the coordinator of SHARE, an Elon Volunteers! group formally called Students Helping Animals Regain Equality. Under the leadership of Slaughter and sophomore Melanie Johnson, SHARE tried to get the program off the ground this year, but eventually met so much resistance that they had to set it aside.
The group did not try to take the program off-campus, though it was considered, because much of the popular off-campus housing is owned by BC Parker, a company that does not allow students to keep pets on its properties. Most other off-campus housing does not allow pets either, but that does not stop students from having them anyway. SHARE did not want to risk outing the students keeping pets illegally by bringing it up with the owners of off-campus housing.
In lieu of a foster care program, SHARE has moved on to raising awareness and fundraising to benefit nonprofit animal welfare organizations. They plan to have a vegetarian chili cook-off, sell T-shirts with the slogan “Kiss me, I save animals” and bring a speaker to campus from the Humane Society. Slaughter would also like to host a demonstration with a police dog, in which he would volunteer to be the “criminal” being attacked.
“I agree with a lot of people who say that some college kids can’t handle having a pet,” Slaughter said, “But I think they are too close-minded. Dogs are called man’s best friend and have been for thousands of years. It’s great that Elon helps people, but it might be nice to help dogs once in a while, too.”
Reporter: Rachel Cieri - 01/23/07