Animal Advocates is a small but mighty organization at Ohio University. With only 10 members, the organization has made a significant impact on campus and the Athens community. Last year alone, Animal Advocates donated over 200 pounds of dog food to the Athens County Dog Shelter.
Stephanie Srembo, a junior chemistry student, has always had a passion for animals and advocating for animal rights. That passion motivated her to step up and become the president of Animal Advocates. Srembo leads her team of animal lovers in their volunteer efforts, fundraising and in the educating of students here at the university.
Although donations and volunteering are important focuses for the group, they also understand the importance of educating in order to promote the well being of animals.
Advocates will be offering a spaying and neutering workshop on campus.
“The workshop will also teach proper pet care for students, especially since everyone is kind of on their own for the first time having full responsibility for an animal,” Srembo said.
It is no secret that Ohio University students have a special place in their hearts for pets and animals. A large portion of OU students become pet owners once they become off-campus residents.
One of those students is Andrea Rykalla, a junior studying chemical engineering. Rykalla lives with her bull mastiff, Bruce.
“At first it was because I lived by myself and I just wanted company. Then I just ended up keeping him with me here because I grew attached over the summer,” Rykalla said.
Although many animals find loving homes because of those off-campus residents, those who become pet owners but are unaware of the necessity, or even the cost, of spaying and neutering their pets can lead to an increase in the stray animal population.
According to Srembo, the large number of farms in Athens County also contributes to the stray population.
“This leads many stray cats wandering off and becoming homeless,” Srembo said.
Srembo also pointed out that when one stray cat gets pregnant, it means about nine new kittens won’t have homes.
“Just walk down the bike bath to Walmart,” Srembo said. “I’m sure you will see around five colonies of stray kittens.”
This year, Animal Advocates plans to tackle the issue of the feral cat population in the Athens community. By raising money for spaying and neutering, they hope to begin to lower the number of stray cats in Athens.
By providing statistics and collecting data, Animal Advocates is making efforts during the school year to inform the university and community of the importance of spaying and neutering pets. Along with offering the spaying and neutering workshop this year, future plans involve possibly opening a cat shelter in Athens County.
Animal Advocates is always looking for new members. Check out its Facebook page for more information, or pop into one of its meetings held every Wednesday in Baker.