Presbyterian College Psychology Professor Brooke Spatta, refers to a Mahatma Gandhi quote when asked about her passion for animal welfare: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
PC colleague Jill Mechling and Spatta serve as director and assistant director, respectively, of the Laurens County Humane Society. When not working at PC or spending time with their families, the duo serve as relentless advocates for the four-legged citizens of Laurens.
“If there is a problem in Laurens County, it is a problem that affects all of us and that we are all responsible for addressing,” said Spatta.
The problem that she is referring to is the explosive pet population in the area – one that resulted in the euthanasia of 786 dogs in 2013 due to the overcrowding of the county’s animal control facility.
“This heartbreaking situation has been going on for too long. I feel a responsibility to serve as an advocate for these animals who need help and cannot speak for themselves,” said Spatta. “Our pets rely on us to take care of them and as a county, we have let them down in the most cruel and inhumane way. This has to change.”
In addition to running a very successful low-cost spay neuter transport, the LCHS board of directors is spearheading a campaign to raise funds for an animal shelter that will house both dogs and cats (currently there is no place for homeless cats in Laurens County). This new facility will be located on a donated 5-acre plot of land off Charlotte’s Road in Clinton and construction will begin in the fall of this year. A generous donation from the estate of Miriam Hite will partially fund the construction of “phase one” of the shelter and the group will rely on donations and volunteers to furnish and maintain the facility.
Mechling, administrative assistant to the Dean of Student Development and Student Health Services, is known around campus as the go-to person for rescuing stray cats. She has been instrumental in reducing the feral cat population on PC’s campus during the past several years through spaying and neutering, and has aided in the rescue of a broad range of animals including deer and owls.
For Spatta, a developmental psychologist, the importance of educating people of all ages about animal rights is clear both in and out of the classroom. Her research focuses on adolescent development and she is currently studying the students in the CHAMPS program along with two undergraduate researchers in the PC Summer Fellows program.
“It is my hope that our PC family will join us in our efforts to improve the lives of homeless animals in our county. As a center of higher education, we have the ability, and ultimately the responsibility, to serve the community that so graciously sustains us. If we teach others about responsible pet ownership and provide ways that our alumni and current students can make a difference in our local community, we would be honoring our beloved motto “dum vivimus servimus,” Spatta said.
Both Mechling and Spatta look forward to having PC students involved with the new animal shelter.
“We will need countless volunteers to help with fundraising events, construction and maintenance of the facility, and caring for the animals,” added Spatta, who serves as faculty advisor for the ZTA sorority and is a faculty representative on the Student Life Council. “We also hope to work with local schools, scouting groups, senior centers and special needs facilities to include as many people as possible in this effort. Everyone has something to contribute,” she said.
Both women see this animal shelter as a fantastic opportunity for PC to give back to the community. “Really, the possibilities are endless in this partnership. It makes me so excited to think of all the ways that PC and the LCHS can work together to make a huge difference in Laurens County,” explains Spatta.
For more information about volunteering, contact Dr. Spatta at firstname.lastname@example.org or Mechling at email@example.com. Donations may be made to the Laurens County Humane Society, P.O. Box 964, Laurens, SC 29360