“This organization would not have started if it wasn’t for Alternative Spring Break,” Alyssa Shaw, the vice president of Rescue Animal Club said.
From March 24 to April 1, 2012, Alyssa and a group of young women spent their spring break in New Orleans, volunteering in the community.
“We went for a week and worked at Animal Rescue New Orleans, a no-kill animal shelter, for five days,” she said. The group worked from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day of the trip. ARNO is run and funded solely by volunteers.
“There were 12 participants on our trip and 13 volunteers at the shelter, including us,” she said. “If we didn’t go volunteer that week, one person would’ve had to do all of it by herself.”
Until Shaw’s trip to New Orleans, she had never volunteered at an animal shelter. However, her passion for animals started at a young age.
“I love the constant affection animals are able to give,” Shaw said. “It’s like they have this sense to help comfort you.”
The ASB trip allowed her to channel this lifetime passion and do something positive within the community. After her experience in New Orleans, Shaw and fellow volunteers from the trip decided to model their volunteer experience into a club that would help animals in the Columbia community.
“We all really missed it and decided to form a club that did exactly what we did on our spring break,” Shaw said. So they founded the Rescue Animal Club (RAC) that not only raises money for animal shelters in Boone County, but also has members working at D & D Family Farms, Central Missouri Humane Society, and Second Chance.
One of the problems shelters face is a lack of committed volunteers. RAC provides a consistent base of service that shelters in Columbia fail to achieve on a regular basis.
“There are no organizations on campus that work with all shelters,” Shaw said. “There is a club that works with the Humane Society, but we try to work with all shelters.”
At the Central Missouri Humane Society, RAC members are involved with their new program called “leash on life.” Volunteers practice leash training with the dogs as well as work on their social skills to ease the transition from the shelter to their adoptive family’s home. At Second Chance, RAC members clean the pens the cat’s are kept in as well as socialize with them to ease their transition from shelter to home. Since D & D Family Farms has many exotic animals that members are unable to work with, they are able to work on maintenance around the farm.
When members of RAC are not volunteering at one of the three animal shelters, they do other service projects to continue helping these animals in need. The humane society needs heating pads for animals to rest on once they come out of surgery, and RAC is helping fill this need by filling rice in socks and then sewing the holes shut. It’s an easy and effective way to keep animals warm.
RAC member Caroline Emde commented, “Growing up with my dog, I’ve missed having that unconditional love. I needed a way to fill that void. So RAC has been a great way to play with some pups and meet new friends who care about animals as much as I do.”
Rescue Animal Club currently has eight active members, but is looking forward to involving more MU students with their mission.
“We’ve struggled recruiting new members for our organization. We need people who want to go out into the community, just dedicating a couple ours of their time, to help a worthy cause.”