Words For Change

We have been thinking about Animal Rights and why we are here for FYSOP. Here are the words of other people and what they have to say. We hope this makes you think and inspires you to make a change.

“The question is not, “Can they reason?” nor, “Can they talk?” but rather, “Can they suffer?”
~Jeremy Bentham

“I care not much for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it”.
~Abraham Lincoln

“Hunting is not a sport.  In a sport, both sides should know they’re in the game.”
~Paul Rodriguez

“I ask people why they have deer heads on their walls.  They always say because it’s such a beautiful animal.  There you go.  I think my mother is attractive, but I have photographs of her.”
~Ellen DeGeneres

“The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to the other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creatures that cannot.”
~Mark Twain, What Is Man, 1906

“Vivisection is a social evil because if it advances human knowledge, it does so at the expense of human character.”
~George Bernard Shaw

“The basis of all animal rights should be the Golden Rule:  we should treat them as we would wish them to treat us, were any other species in our dominant position”.
~Christine Stevens


Collar Check: Animal Abuse and Neglect

Very often, we talk about how human actions have affected wildlife. Encroachment in environments all around the world has taken away the homes of many animals and can lead to extinction. It is fairly easy to wrap our minds around this idea.

What about the animals in our backyards and in our homes?

According to the City of Boston, “setting tails on fire, putting rubber bands around limbs, choking, kicking, drowning, animal fighting – these are all definite forms of abuse.” Just as domestic abuse for people are kept behind closed doors, animal abuse can be hidden as well. Approximately 13% of animal abuse cases involve domestic violence.

Dog fighting has physical and psychological effects.

An obvious form of abuse is animal fighting. Animal fighting is an underground activity as it is illegal in Massachusetts and in 41 other states. Dogs are raised to fight each other for entertainment purposes, but the cost for the animals is too high. These dogs grow up extremely aggressive and have attack behaviors, tend to mask their emotions, and are often subjected to thick and heavy chains for collars and leashes. Furthermore, these dogs have excessive wounds and scars, also shown by mangled and torn ears.

Abuse is a conscious action. Neglect can be unconscious, but is just as harmful. It is more than forgetting to feed your pet. It can kill.

Something really disturbing that we came across this week is animal collars. But before we discuss this further, imagine this: you put a bracelet on at the young age of 5 and it fits like a glove. Two years later, it’s starting to feel a little tight, but you don’t do anything about it. 5 years later, you’re a teenager and the bracelet is still on. Except now the bracelet causes you serious pain, but it’s too late to take it off. Your wrist has grown around the bracelet and the doctors say that it needs to be surgically removed. Now imagine the same thing happening with a necklace and it is exposing your neck: the part of you that is essential for breathing and eating.

Leaving pets in cars is illegal and can kill an animal. Temperatures can rise up to 160 degrees in a matter of minutes, causing severe brain damage or death.

This is happening to dogs and cats. Owners who do not check collars regularly could be suffocating and killing their pets. Pictures of the effects of unchecked collars are extremely disturbing, so we have not posted any with this blog post.

So let’s do our part. Report cases of abuse to animal control in your town and check the collars on your pets.

For more information on animal abuse and neglect, check out the City of Boston Animal Control website.



Picture Story: Drumlin Farm!

This week we visited Drumlin Farm in Lincoln! While Drumlin is indeed a farm, full of cows, goats, sheep, pigs, horses, and chickens, it is also a wildlife sanctuary. We are thrilled to be sending out volunteers to Drumlin this year and believe it has a lot of great talking points for Animals. In addition, it is a site full of FYSOP Fusion. We see obvious impacts on Environment at Drumlin and even through their sustainable efforts involving solar energy. With a teaching garden, a camp and a pre-school, Drumlin also reaches out to the community’s Children to introduce them to all aspects of farming. Inevitably, we see overlaps with Hunger as well–Drumlin participates in Community Supported Agriculture. To recap our trip further, check out some photos!

This is a fisher! A relative of the weasel. She is quite lively and always running around. Make sure to cut through Bird Hill and visit her! Drumlin acts a sanctuary for wildlife that have been imprinted or injured and could no longer survive in the wild. An interesting fact about Drumlin Farm is that they try to refrain from naming their animals.

These piglets were born a few weeks ago! Look at the cute little piglets!

This is Bart! Bart is a goat in one of Drumlin’s newer barns. As you can see, Bart is super friendly and loves to be pet. Now king of the pen, he was once a young kid struggling to reproduce.

Bart is actually housed with some sheep. Here we saw a sheep give herself a thorough post massage. Quite innovative animals! Volunteers will participate in some sheep skirting while at Drumlin.

Drumlin raises free range chickens! Did you know: Chickens only need to have 15 minutes of cage-less outdoor activity to be considered “free range.” Pictured here is a description of Drumlin’s Egg Mobiles. The egg mobiles are designed to give the chickens a greater range of land for more access to fresh nutrients and bugs.

Pictured here are solar powered birds. The exhibit is designed to educate about solar power energy and how it works. If you approach the solar panels and cover them to block the sun, the birds will stop flapping their wings!

Here is Drumlin’s main building and their largest concentration of solar panels that power the farm.



Consider this: Animals-Children-People Living with Disabilities FUSION

The article above talks about the therapeutic effect that animals can have on children, especially those who are suffering from neglect or are struggling with emotional disabilities. According to their research, it is not only your traditional pets that can help in therapy, but farm animals and wildlife as well.

Animals of all shapes and sizes work together to stay healthy and survive.

It is incredible how the world works and how organisms of all shapes and sizes work together to form an ecosystem. Every living thing has its role to play in the greater scope of the environment that it lives in. However, environments are only sustainable if the interactions between the organisms balance each other out.

A key word that we should consider is “symbiosis.” It is defined as “the living together in more or less intimate association or close union of two dissimilar organisms” (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary). An example of this is the clownfish and the anemone. The clownfish cleans and maintains the anemone, and the anemone protects the clownfish from pretators and provides a home. We benefit so much from animals, but do we truly live in symbiosis with other animals?

In terms of food, animals play a huge role in the production of food. Not only do we eat animals, but we use them to help with farming to grow staple crops and such. Without the influence of animals, our diets would differ from what they are today.

However, as shown in this article, we also benefit from them emotionally. When we trust animals and they trust us back, we are able to build confidence and promote positive group collaboration and cooperation. Do we do the same for them?

In terms of pets, there is the question of putting them on leashes. For farm animals, do we treat them in a humane manner? In terms of wildlife, we encroach on their natural habitats and often destroy their homes. We should really think about symbiosis. Are we promoting a symbiotic relationship with all animals?

Over the years, there has been more movement to reduce human encroachment on environments and more humane treatment of animals. Some zoos are working to reintroduce species that would be otherwise extinct for reasons caused by humans. All of this is great, but quite a bit of it is to try to right the wrongs of the past. What more can we do to help other animals since they help us so much?

Check out some of the links and articles below and let us know what you think!


Former TV writer fatally punches poodle in face

List of Red List endangered species

Merriam-Webster Definition

Britannica article about service animals

Go Blue!

Using Goats to Clean Up!

An opinion article about animal protection


Meet Our Wonderful FYStaff!

Some of the most important people of the First-Year Student Outreach Project are the dedicated student leaders that make up the FYSOP Staff, lovingly referred to as the FYStaff. We would love for you all to have an opportunity to get to know a little bit about them before FYSOP begins. This year, Animals has 24 staff members who are just as excited as we are for FYSOP 23! You can find their mini-bios under the “About” tab.

Rachel with her Disabilities co-staff at FYSOP 22 Closing Ceremonies.

The FYSOP staff are a wonderful group of volunteers who are interested in making a difference and are excellent role models for our incoming first-years. FYStaff go with the first-year volunteers to our various service sites throughout the week of FYSOP and are there for the social events as well. These staff members have an effect that outlasts the week of FYSOP: the connections that the new Terriers make with the staff can last throughout the entire BU experience.

Jack with his Human Rights co-staff in Marsh Plaza for the volunteer welcoming before FYSOP 22 Opening Ceremonies.

Take a moment to meet our staff. Our Animals issue area is lucky to have such wonderful people who are passionate about animals and our community!


A Site Dedicated Entirely to CATS!

A few weeks ago we visited the Ellen Gifford Cat Shelter in Brighton, MA. According to their webpage “The Gifford Shelter is a cageless, no-kill facility founded in 1884 and sponsored by Ellen Gifford. The shelter is a pioneer in creating an environment that does not confine cats to small, movement-restricting cages.”

While on our site visit to the shelter our site contact, Karen, gave us a tour of the facility and gave us an overview of the basic functions of their organization. The property is split into two separate buildings. The main housing for the cats is lovingly referred to as “the Brick.” This building houses many of the cats that need basic attention and care and are waiting to be adopted, but it also houses—in a separate area—cats who are shy and need to be introduced or reintroduced to human contact. They’re the less “social” cats of the bunch, however, just as adorable. In the second building, where the main office is located, the upstairs has been turned into a safe place for cats with special needs. This is where we met Franklin, a cat who had recently been attacked outdoors and was left with several wounds and needing to have an eye removed. Post-surgery, the shelter has provided a comfortable space for him to be quarantined while he recovers.

Learn more about feral cats and TNR by clicking this cute little kitty’s face.

We learned that the Ellen Gifford Cat Shelter participates in the trap-neuter-return program. TNR is a process by which feral cats are captured, spayed or neutered, and then returned to live in their outdoor habitat. The idea of the trap-neuter-return program is to reduce the feral cat population so that these cats may live longer and healthier lives in an environment where they are not fully supported by humans. It also contributes to reducing cat fights and competition for resources. The ASPCA’s website outlines many of the questions surrounding the TNR process here.

Some activities our volunteers may get to participate in while at the Ellen Gifford Cat Shelter are: restoration of scratching posts and living spaces, yard work and upkeep for the facility, painting a sanctuary room for cats with special needs, and cat therapy (playing with the cuties).

The Ellen Gifford Cat Shelter, along with many of our other sites, is a 501(c)3 organization. They are tax exempt and function primarily off of donations and sponsors. If you love cats feel free to visit their site and donate!


Zoo: to be or not to be?

Hi friends! We have been confirming sites for Animals and we’re having a lot of fun. We would like to update you on what we have been up to.

One site that we visited on Wednesday was Stone Zoo. There were a few concerns as we were not sure what to expect from a zoo and we were talking about morality and ethics in terms of zoos. Today, we would like to discuss the argument for and against zoos as we really emphasize education during FYSOP.

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary definition of “zoo” is “a garden or park where wild animals are kept for exhibition.” These sorts of definitions and ideas are what boost the arguments of animal activists. Why should animals be kept for entertainment purposes? Scientifically, humans are animals too. An interesting idea would be to imagine if a different animal, say lions, were in our position and we were the ones enclosed in these spaces. How would you feel? Animals in zoos are in spaces that are not their natural environments and as much as zoos can try to recreate these environment, these animals still have limited space.

In terms of the ethical implications of zoos, the Captive Animals’ Protections Society (CAPS) make a good argument: “We believe that the keeping of animals in zoos sends a damaging message to the general public, and particularly children and young people, by the implication that animals can be maintained in captivity to satisfy our own curiosity, despite the animal gaining no benefit from the practice. The practice implies that the animals’ own lives hold no inherent value in their own right; the keeping of animals in zoos therefore have negative educational impact.” This argument is interesting because it says that despite our curiosity about the other flora and fauna in our world, observing these animals in this way is detrimental for our own education. In trying to learn about these animals, we are taking them out of their natural habitats and observing their habits which are affected by the limited spaces and taking these observations as fact.


A tiger in a zoo may not show all of its natural habits; however, accredited zoos such as Stone Zoo work to maintain the animals’ senses.

As part of our research, we have been looking at the mission statements of a few zoos. Some words that we look for include “research,” “entertainment,” “appreciation,” “education,” etc. Do some of your own research and check out these mission statements. What do you notice? What should a good mission statement be for a zoo?

On the other hand, one thing that we talked about at Stone Zoo was the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The AZA has a group of experts that check zoos’ standards, policies, and practices. Zoos accredited by the AZA have high standards of animal care. Unfortunately, less that 10% of zoos and aquariums are AZA accredited. To be AZA accredited, an institution must have certain standards, as well as have programs implemented to help conservation efforts for animals. All zoos in the United States must follow regulations by the US Department of Agriculture, but the AZA has more regulations above those standards. Below is a set of links to learn more, including two for the AZA, one being a set of statistics. Stone Zoo and Franklin Park Zoo are both accredited through AZA.

Although CAPS makes an argument against zoos in terms of education, education can also be an argument for zoos. This is the only way that people may see some of these animals. Zoos provide a place for the public to be exposed to animals and to learn about what human encroachment is doing to these animals and their natural environments. Accredited zoos have conservation programs to help maintain populations of species as hunting and destroyed environments have compromised the animals’ survival.

Zoos are a tricky subject and it is important to be informed. Use the links below to read articles or learn more about the subject and make up your own mind as to whether or not you support zoos. If you have any appropriate comments, questions, or concerns, feel free to post below.

The First-Year Student Outreach Project is excited to add on the Animals issue area to our programming and would like to educate ourselves and our volunteers.


Zookeeper killed by wolves in Sweden

US Department

Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary Definition of “Zoo”

Zoo New England (Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo)

Captive Animals’ Protection Society