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FGCU Student Project Helps Promote Pet Licensing and Vaccinations
5/19/2004

NEWS RELEASE

MEDIA CONTACT:
Ria Brown
Lee County Animal Services
(239) 432-2090 ext. 241

Courtney Dwyer
Florida Gulf Coast University
(239) 357-7924

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FGCU Student Project Helps Promote Pet Licensing and Vaccinations

Fort Myers, Florida, 5/12/04-Students in Dr. Maria Rocca's Foundations of Civic Engagement class at Florida Gulf Coast University recently took on a variety of projects to address community problems by working with local agencies. Courtney Dwyer, Ashley Elliott, Kristin Foelgner, Kristin Grover and Alyssa Hazelbaker-Buell felt they needed to make a difference for the animals in Lee County through their project.

The students began their assignment by working with Lee County Animal Services to define a problem of concern for the agency. The students then took on the task of educating pet owners about animal laws pertaining to licensing and rabies vaccinations.

The agency expressed concern that many pet owners were unaware of human and pet health problems related to unvaccinated pets. Animal Services advised the students that a means of relaying information about Lee County's licensing laws and penalties for non-compliance was needed. After researching the problem and the law, the students developed an informational brochure for pet owners. They also included a section clarifying common misconceptions and answering frequently asked questions.

However, the students did more than just produce the brochure. To become actively involved in the solution to the problem, they distributed the brochure throughout Lee County in locations such as Publix, Target, and Wal-Mart stores, and in various malls. Lee County Animal Services' staff also utilizes the brochure in public information programs.

Developers of the course felt that real civic engagement was essential to teach students about the concepts of citizenship. "No text can teach a student as much about the power of community than a real-world, hands-on experience can," says Dr. Rocca. She also feels the most important thing her students walked away with was "an understanding of the power of community . . . and a sense of just how much they are capable of accomplishing."

Lee County Animal Services provides animal control services throughout Lee County and operates an animal shelter to house stray and abandoned domestic animals. It also administers low-cost spay and neuter programs, educational initiatives, rabies and bite case control programs, and humane euthanasia when appropriate. It employs 37 and has an annual operating budget of $2.4 million.

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