Companions In The Community

Prior to teaching at Texas Tech, Protopopova (right) studied at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Florida, where she acquired degrees in neuroscience, pre-vet science, behavior analysis and a Ph.D. in behavior analysis.

The Texas Tech University Department of Animal and Food Sciences is using its new animal shelter management course to create a invaluable connection between its students and the Lubbock community.

The animal shelter management course is a service learning component of the new companion animal science option with the animal science major. The course provides students with an in-depth understanding of the animal shelter industry and hands-on experience working in Lubbock’s shelters.

Michael Orth, Ph.D., chair and professor of the Department of Animal and Food Science, said the idea of the course is what the title of the course suggests.

“The importance of the course is getting out and working with the community,” Orth said. “It is getting students experiential learning opportunities with the animals and a better appreciation of what actually takes place in shelters.”

Each week, classes consist of a lecture and related activity, such as a demo, field trip, vaccination practice, temperament testing, or observing medical procedures. Students are also required to complete individual service assignments at the local shelters.

In the course narrative, Sasha Protopopova, Ph.D., stated the importance of her students learning inside and outside of the classroom due to the community engagement and service involved in animal sheltering.

“Aside from learning husbandry, medical, and management procedures to care for companion animals,” Protopopova stated in the narrative, “students entering the world of animal shelters also need to have a strong understanding of government policies, ethics, community relations, and cultivate a desire for public service.”

The course is partnered with the Lubbock Animal Shelter and the Haven Animal Care Shelter. Protopopova said she feels a great deal of gratitude for the course’s community partners and the integral role they play in the students’ learning experience.

“Without them, the course would not have been developed in such a meaningful way,” Protopopova said. “Animal shelters are a progressive community, and with their transparency, welcome environment, and progressive thinking we can really make something like this happen. That’s not something you could say in a lot of other communities, so we are very privileged to be in such a good community.”