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UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 7 | May 2, 2002

A Pal for Pooches Everywhere

Homeless animals find a champion in Agricultural Science graduate.

By Michelle Cook

From the local dog pound to the coast of Africa, Animal Science major Michelle Nelson has a habit of adopting strays wherever she goes.

Grommit, the gregarious Chinese pug at her feet, is one example. He's a foster pet from the B.C. SPCA. Nelson, who is graduating with a Bachelor of Science from the Agricultural Sciences Faculty, has two foster cats at home, and she cared for several homeless felines during field studies in Kenya last year.

"Seeing the homeless cats and dogs in Africa, hungry and diseased, just broke my heart," Nelson says. "For me, even just a few weeks of interaction made their life better because someone loved them."

Nelson has been passionate about animal welfare since she was five years old, and has volunteered with animals since she was 12. She and the attention-loving Grommit even strutted their stuff on the catwalk recently at a dog fashion show fundraiser for the Vancouver City Pound.

When she arrived at UBC in 1997, Nelson was eager to get involved in and outside of class. She was active in the Agricultural Sciences Undergraduate Society, serving in various positions including vice-president and newsletter editor. She also focused her considerable energy and enthusiasm on organizing an undergraduate career fair, recruiting high school students to study agricultural sciences, getting fellow students involved in the UBC Farm initiative, and volunteering for the Imagine UBC first-year student orientation.

"Agriculture is an applied science, so I think it's important to get the practical experience," Nelson says. "Also, for a well-rounded education, you really have to get involved outside your academic discipline."

Nelson relished the challenge of her undergraduate honours thesis with the Animal Welfare Program at UBC, as well as a research project with the B.C. SPCA. Next year, she wants to pursue graduate research focusing on the control, care and rehabilitation of feral cats.

Then, Nelson is off to veterinary school to gain a background in the medical care of companion animals. Eventually she would like to develop a traveling Trap, Neuter and Release program for treating feral animals in developing nations, with a strong local consultation-education component.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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