UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 7 | May
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
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
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
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