Playing with puppies and caring for kittens sounds like an ideal spring break trip for some college students, especially for those individuals who spend all day on Facebook and Twitter posting photos of animals with #cute. Professor Lisa Sardinia is offering a class called Companion Animal Science, which will allow students to work with dogs, cats, horses, pigs, birds and other animals in the real world instead of virtual ones.

For the first half of the semester, students will learn about the scientific method. They will then visit the Best Friends Animal Society in Southern Utah during spring break. After students return from the trip, they will be working on projects that reform some aspect of how our society treats or manages companion animals.

“I want to give students an understanding beyond ‘I love my puppy’ and have them really look at legal aspects behind companion animals,” said Sardinia.

The Best Friends Animal Society is a plot in Kanab, Utah that is run by volunteers. While at the animal shelter, students can pick which animals they’d like to work with. Students will have three-hour shifts in the morning and afternoon to help with exercising, socializing, cleaning and playing with the animals in the specific section of the shelter they choose to work in.

“I visited the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary a few years ago and thought it was a great place for students to do civic engagement,” said Sardinia.

This two-credit course is new to Pacific University and was created by Sardinia with the help of Director of Civic Engagement Stephanie Stokamer,  to give students an additional class that satisfied their civic engagement credit and also part of their natural sciences requirement. The class will focus on the application of the scientific method to propose ideas that may reform the way companion animals are managed in our society.

Sardinia explained that there is a lot of emotion behind the treatment and management of companion animals. She is a lawyer who is a member of the Oregon Bar Association and being an animal lover herself, Sardinia works with the animal law section.

Some topics of discussion in regard to companion animals are how to manage feral cats and the affect it has on the songbird population, the exemption of certain breeds of dogs in states such as the pit bull and the expansion of service animals.

“This class will allow students to take an issue that interests and possibly bothers them and write a proposal with solutions on how to reform it,” said Sardinia. “Basically we want to work to develop new laws to better manage and defend companion animals.”

Proposals in the class that are well developed will be presented to Oregon legislators who work in the animal law section.

The cost of the course is $950. The class will be at the Best Friends Animal Society March 22-30. Students who are interested can contact Sardinia at sardinil@pacificu.edu for more information.

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