Chapman University School of Law: Raising Funds and Awareness For Animals

This spotlight was submitted by Anne Card, president of the Animal Law Society, Chapman University School of Law.

Chapman’s Animal Law Society Raises Over $1,100 for Local Animal Welfare Group

This past April, the Animal Law Society of the Chapman University School of Law in Orange, California (a student chapter of the Animal Legal Defense Fund), raised an impressive $1,140 for the Orange County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OCSPCA) by deciding to reinstitute what was once an annual event at Chapman–the famed Pet Photo Contest. This event came at the end of a year that focused on political activism relating to Proposition 2 and Californians for Humane Farms, education through sending all three club officers to the 2008 “One Earth: Globalism and Animal Law” conference at Lewis and Clark Law School, and the hosting of a vegan lunch and seminar exploring the many health and environmental benefits of an animal-free diet. The decision to revive the Pet Photo Contest came about as an answer to a question the Animal Law Society had asked all year: how can we get more students, faculty, and staff personally involved with the organization and aware of the fact that our cause welcomes support from across the animal-friendly spectrum, from casual pet owner to full-fledged vegan activist?

Chapman Animal Law Society president at the pet photo contest tableThe Animal Law Society took the basic concept of the Pet Photo Contest and turned it into a competition to determine its 2009 “mascot”- a Chapman Law community member’s pet whose winning photo would grace the organization’s webpage. Photos of beloved pets of all kinds were collected from faculty, staff, and students and then displayed on a table in the law school lobby for three days. During this time, passers-by dropped money into the jar next to their favorite Chapman pet photo in hopes of having that pet garner the most donations and win the contest. In order to give the Animal Law Society and the law school visibility in the local Orange County animal rights and welfare community, the OCSPCA was chosen as the beneficiary of all the proceeds.

With either Animal Law Society President Anne Card or Vice President Alexandria Witte manning the donation table for six to eight hours per day for three days straight, hardly anyone was able to pass by without offering a donation.  Staff members and faculty reported that the contest was the “talk of the lunchroom,” and that mass emails sent by contest participants were spreading the buzz. By the third day, the spirits of competition and generosity had combined, as the most common question asked was “who’s winning?” followed by “how much has been raised for the OCSPCA so far?” The reassurance that the money was all going towards a good cause was all anyone needed to drop anywhere from $1 to $330 on one animal.

At the end of the third day, the money jars were full and the astonishing total of $1,140 raised for the OCSPCA was announced. Fittingly, it was Chapman Animal Law Professor Robert Newman’s Chihuahua “Ruben” who raised the highest donation total and took the coveted title of “2009 Animal Law Society Mascot.” While the incredible success of this event may be measured by its fundraising totals, it may also be judged by its effect of having raised awareness and started dialogues within the Chapman Law community as to the principles and goals of the animal law movement and the many ways each individual may choose to contribute. The Animal Law Society looks forward to hosting the event again next year and hopes that this time, the tradition of the Pet Photo Contest is here to stay.

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