Paws and Claws club provides students with animal awareness education during the pandemic

The student-run organization advocates for animal welfare and education among the university.


Photo courtesy of Jeshoots on Unsplash

Darlene Antoine, Features Editor

Paws and Claws club is driven by its mission to promote education about pet ownership, animal welfare, and provide students with the opportunity to participate in animal-oriented volunteer opportunities throughout the Boca Raton area and university.

The student-run organization was founded in 2017 and club President Lucas Topper, Vice President Sabrina Baenen, and member Julia Byrne still uphold its value of animal advocacy and an emphasis on “adopt don’t shop.”

“Due to concerns with COVID-19 and the graduation of most members, we were on a brief hiatus for the fall semester. We have been in talks with local humane societies, pet rescues, and are working on planning some Zoom meetings with them, along with organizing volunteer experience with these shelters. Something that has also come up is the potential of helping the stray cats on campus,” Topper said.

Paws and Claws have had monthly events and volunteer opportunities for students to bond and learn more about animal advocacy. From discussions with guest speakers such as the Broward Humane Society to fun bonding events such as pumpkin painting, they aim to increase animal awareness and have students make connections.

“The most memorable part of being a member of this organization would be the one meeting [two years ago] where we had the FAU police dog come in. The officer gave us a demonstration of how the dog finds the drugs. It was an amazing experience,” Byrne said.

A notable impact of the pandemic on the animal community was the increase of vulnerability for animals in shelters as reported by the WSAVA Global Veterinary Community: “The major impacts on animal shelters from the COVID-19 outbreak are higher numbers of animals being taken in and fewer adoptions and rescue options. Staff shortages are also likely because of illness or self-isolation. Shelters must balance the public health of their community and of their staff with their goal of saving animals’ lives.”

When asked why animal awareness was important amid the challenges of the pandemic, Baenen explained that the initiatives the club takes help to raise awareness of animal welfare.

“It is so important to be a part of animal awareness initiatives during this time because there are many animals that are also being impacted by this pandemic. Not only shelters but family pets can be impacted due to the lack of money that is available to go towards their needs. If we can improve and shed more light on animal awareness, it will help in many ways because anything helps to save these animals,” Baenen said.

If students want to find more information about Paws and Claws, they can go to their Instagram @pawsandclawsfau. The organization has a link in the bio where students can sign up to become a member and join the group chat.

Darlene Antoine is the Features Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].