Remember during finals week when everyone was freaking out about UHS “puppies” (a.k.a. regular dogs, still pretty cool but come on, that’s false advertising). Well, what if I told you that you could spend your Wednesday evenings cuddling with REAL puppies and kittens, too? Look no further than Penn State’s Small and Exotic Animals Club, also known as SEAC.
Originally named Students for the Responsible Use of Animals, SEAC adopted its new name four years ago. Its mission is to promote responsible pet ownership, increase education about small and exotic animal topics in the community, and to provide students with animal-oriented volunteer opportunities throughout the area.
So why should you join? Well, puppies, of course.
“What’s a better way to come and de-stress every other week than by coming to play with kittens, puppies, or some other type of animal at our meetings?” asked President Christine Crawford.
A typical meeting usually includes a speaker with topics varying from wildlife rehabilitation, canine police work, reptiles, and rescue centers for cats, dogs, ferrets, etc. SEAC also does a lot of outreach during the year with animal-related initiatives.
“We do a lot of volunteering with local shelters and try to let our members know when there are dates available to train as a volunteer for the local animal shelter, PAWS,” Crawford said. “We have become very involved with another local rescue, Beagle 911, and bring some animals from the shelter to nursing homes for pet meet and greets just to interact with the residents and do a bit of community service on the weeks we do not have meetings.”
Puppies AND the elderly? So much cuteness, so little time. But if there’s anything cooler than small and exotic animals, it’s big and exotic animals.
“We try to take a spring trip every year to zoos and aquariums as well as a service project every year at T&D Cats of the World, a large cat rescue about an hour and a half from State College,” Crawford said.
While most members are Pre-Veterinary, Animal Science, or Wildlife & Fisheries majors, everyone is welcome. And attention boys: SEAC is mainly girls, and what girl doesn’t love a boy holding a puppy? SEAC also hosts a Halloween party every fall where members come dressed as their favorite animal. If anyone wants to join me in making a giraffe costume, we can start planning now.
As we all know, animals are unpredictable and Crawford had a few stories to share, aside from the occasional dog doing his business in the middle of a nursing home.
“We’ve had some funny things happen like a ferret crawling into someone’s book-bag and falling asleep during a meeting or dogs getting too excited by all the attention they get and try to jump up on the tables and chairs,” she said.
This spring break, SEAC will travel to Tampa and Clearwaterto visit some of the country’s most prominent wildlife conservations. Stops include the Big Cat Rescue, the largest accredited sanctuary in the world dedicated entirely to abused and abandoned big cats; Clearwater Marine Aquarium, a marine rescue, rehabilitate, and release center that also is home to a multitude of animals that cannot be released back into the ocean; Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, the largest wild bird hospital and bird sanctuary in the U.S; and On the Wings of Angels Rescue, a rescue center for abandoned dogs to rehabilitate and readopt them out.
So maybe the animals aren’t always that exotic, but you still get to play with adorable puppies and kittens, and ferrets are kinda cool, right?