On the first day of the New Year, Pups on the Plains announced the end of an era for their organization.
POP's vision of adopting animals from the humane shelter to rescue them from impending euthanasia will, by the end of this year, shift its focus. POP will transition from rehoming animals and will instead advocate for pre-existing animal welfare organizations, primarily the Lee County Humane Shelter.
When complete, this change will permanently impact the day to day operations of POP, especially for their current officers.
“It’s been sad. I personally didn’t want to have to transition, but then realistically when I thought about it, it was like, this is probably the best decision for us and for the animals too,” Kathryn Mussell, POP social media chair, said.
While POP is not currently a student organization, it is 100% led by students.
“We're full-time students, and it got to a point where, honestly, our president sat us down and said, 'Do any of y’all want to be president?” Mussell said. “We couldn’t realistically run this organization the way we’ve run it anymore."
POP does not have a central base to house animals until they are adoptable, which means they rely solely on volunteer members of their organization to foster animals at their own homes.
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Shelby Campbell, sophomore in animal sciences, says, “We house these dogs that we have no idea what kind of medical issues or past traumas they have to work through to be adoptable, you have to jump through all those hoops.”
Campbell and Mussell emphasized that officers in particular always have to be prepared to quickly respond to POP related needs, which became difficult to maintain.
Since 2017, various officers have contributed hours of their time and effort investing in the success of the organization. Even for the newer officers, the decision to transition was not easy.
“I’ve been looking forward to being a part of POP since before freshman year," Campbell said.
While plans for the future of POP are not finalized, officers hope to create more opportunities for students to become involved. With the current model, students are somewhat limited when pursuing involvement with POP, due to the time commitment.
With this transition, POP will have more options for becoming involved, such as volunteering with the humane shelter, assisting with events or creating social media content.
POP’s officers are hopeful for this new organizational model.
“In the long run it will allow us more freedoms and wont take such a toll on our officers," Campbell said.
The transition process has already begun and is projected to be finished within a year. Until the transition is complete, POP will continue to care for the animals currently being fostered but will no longer be taking more animals. While the structure of Pups on the Plains is changing forever, the vision to care for the animals of Lee County remains.
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