Under the Knife: The Club for Animal Rights Education changes direction

The Club for Animal Rights Education is an organization that began approximately 10 years ago with the goal of educating students about the animal rights movement.

The club almost completely disappeared in recent years, but junior Christine Donovan, the club's current president, is attempting to rejuvenate the organization and give it a new, more active mission.

According to Donovan, "The club was really active the first few years, but this year we're trying to focus more on volunteer work. We want to get our name out there and let people know we're actually doing stuff now."

"We found some really provocative posters in the storage room," said sophomore club member Megan Eichas, adding she believes the club died out "because it was so harsh." One of those posters depicted a horse that was missing skin; it used to be shown around campus to raise awareness about animal cruelty, a route that Eichas said she believes did more to scare people than to educate them.

According to Eichas, many of the members of C.A.R.E. wanted to form a club that catered more to volunteering than to animal rights education. "We had to jumpstart off of this old club and had to request a change in intent." Now under new leadership, the club has big plans for the future. Eichas said that the club wants "to have more shelters that we can volunteer at because now we can only send 16 people to volunteer in one weekend."

Donovan said she intends to change the name of the organization to P.A.W., People for Animal Welfare, in order to reflect the organization's change in intent under her leadership. Donovan believes that the name "paints a better picture and tells people what we're about."

"A lot of people want to volunteer at animal shelters, but the closest is 25 minutes away so it is much easier to do it in a group," Donovan said.

The club volunteers on weekends at the Scottsville Veterinary Adoptions, a no-kill animal shelter, and also at the shelter's satellite pet adoption center at the Henrietta PetSmart. Volunteers play with the animals, help clean at the shelter and provide information on the animals for potential adoptions.

In the future, C.A.R.E. plans to host a LateKnight event where participants can paint dog and cat bowls to donate to the shelter. This past week the club has been tabling in the Union to collect donations for the animal shelter. Members plan to send newsletters to donors detailing the progress that the animals at the shelter have made.

The club hopes to expand to the point where it can provide volunteers for every shelter in the county, and with the expansion in membership the club has seen this semester, it is definitely a possibility.

"It's hard to start from practically nothing, so we're always looking for new ideas and volunteers," Donovan said.