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Tag: students

There’s more than one way to skin a frog

frog dissection

Holy Formaldehyde! Times are changing. As of this fall, thousands of Catholic school students in the Philadelphia area can opt out of that once mandatory, highly stinky rite of passage — dissecting a frog in biology class.

The  Archdiocese of Philadelphia has established a policy under which students in its 20 high schools who have concerns about traditional animal dissection are allowed to use alternatives to frogs, cats and other actual animals.

As an increasing number of high schools and universities are realizing, there are plenty of options to cutting up an animal, and students can learn just as much about biology through models and computer graphics.

“As the 21st century evolves, greater use of virtual dissection experiences will be encouraged and eventually replace the use of scientifically preserved animals,” said Mary E. Rochford, Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. “With the availability of virtual lab experiences and other Internet instructional tools, students can arrive at the same learning.”

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s policy is modeled after the Pennsylvania Students Rights Option, a law established in 1992, which enables public and non-public students from grades K-12 who do not want to harm animals as part of their coursework to use an alternative instead.

You can learn more about the Pennsylvania law here.

“The Archdiocese’s student choice policy can serve as a model for other schools in the state of Pennsylvania, in addition to other dioceses across the U.S,” said Laura Ducceschi, Director of Animalearn, a project of the American Anti-Vivisection Society.

Tens of thousands of cats, frogs, and other animals are killed annually, specifically for dissection and other educational purposes, despite available alternatives and studies showing that students learn as well or better by using virtual dissection and other humane alternatives, according to Animalearn.

Animalearn’s website offers a searchable database of over 450 alternatives to dissection, downloadable software, and other humane science tools. A free resource to students and teachers nationwide, The Science Bank offers interactive models, videos, and virtual dissection CD-ROMs and DVDs.

“Dog Days” help ease campus homesickness

susquehannaAt Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania, faculty and staff bring their dogs to school every Tuesday during September, gather on a grassy field and allow students to have their homesickness washed away by spending an hour with the hounds.

The events are aimed at helping students overcome their homesickness, which often includes a longing for the family dog, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The “Dog Days” have been held on campus for five years.

They were started by former counseling director Kathy Bradley, now executive director of health and counseling at Gettysburg College. Bradley has started a similar program there. A few times a semester, Bucknell University in Lewisburg, which heard about Susquehanna’s program, brings trained therapy dogs – some owned by staff members – to campus to visit with students.

“The fact is that students miss their pets, sometimes more than they miss their families,” said Anna Beth Payne, associate dean of student life and director of Susquehanna’s counseling center.

Professors especially like the opportunity for the informal gatherings, saying they break the ice and can help make the campus, and the professors, seem less intimidating to students.

Nine dogs showed up on a recent Tuesday, a typical turnout, and dozens of students stopped to play with them, one of whom said she missed her dog, Babe, back home in Maine — at leas as much as she missed her mother.

“It’s a close tie between the dog and my mom,” she said.

(Philadelphia Inquirer photo by Robert Landry)

Vick addresses students in Philadelphia

Michael Vick spoke to a group of Philadelphia high school students Tuesday, warning them against the dangers of peer pressure and urging them to make the right choices and resist the temptation to follow the crowd.

The Philadelphia Eagles quarterback addressed 200 freshmen on their first day at Nueva Esperanza Academy, a North Philadelphia charter school.

“I didn’t choose to go the right way, which led to 18 months in prison, which was the toughest time of my life,” he said. “Being away from my family, being away from my kids who I adore dearly, and being away from the game of football, doing something so foolish, and I wish I could take it all back.

“I was influenced by so many people when I should have been a leader, not a follower.”

The 10-minute talk marked Vick’s first anti-dogfighting public appearance in Philadelphia since he signed a one-year, $1.6 million deal with the Eagles on Aug. 13, the Associated Press reported.

“My future was promising … at some point, I got sidetracked. I started listening to my friends and doing some things that were not ethical and not right.”

Vick visited the school with Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. Pacelle met with Vick in prison at the quarterback’s request and agreed to allow him help in the organization’s anti-dogfighting campaign.

Once the highest paid player in the NFL, Vick was suspended from the league following his conviction in August 2007 on charges of conspiracy and organizing the dogfighting ring. He was released from federal custody in July and was signed by the Eagles in August.

Vick is suspended for the first two games of the regular season and is eligible to play beginning Sept. 27.

Illinois schools seek to ban autistic kids’ dogs

Over the objections of school officials, Kaleb Drew went to first grade on Tuesday with his Labrador retriever, Chewey, and his family says they’re optimistic they’ll win a court battle to keep the dog in class.

Chewey, trained to help the autistic boy deal with his disabilities, did “just as he’s supposed to” in keeping Kaleb safe and calm during his first full day back at school, said the boy’s mother, Nichelle Drew.

A Douglas County judge allowed the dog to accompany Kaleb until the family’s lawsuit against Villa Grove Elementary School in east-central Illinois goes to trial in November, according to the Associated Press.

Kaleb’s case is one of two challenging an Illinois law allowing service animals in schools.

“I hope as time goes by that maybe they’ll see that it’s not causing a problem, and they’ll let the fight go,” Nichelle Drew said. Regardless, she added, “We’re in it for the long haul.”

Read more »

Bolted down dog art disappears in Indiana

Two of the 41 decorated dog sculptures that have been placed in and around Purdue University as part of a community art project were stolen before the exhibit officially started, and a third was almost stolen early Sunday.

A student was arrested, but Purdue University police don’t believe he was responsible for the earlier two thefts, the Journal and Courier reported. Police said Adam Sachs, 20, a sophomore engineering major, was carrying a toolbox when an officer saw him at 3:30 a.m. attempting to steal one of the sculptures.

The decorated, life-sized dog statues, bolted to 600-pound concrete bases, have been placed throughout  Lafayette, West Lafayette and on the Purdue campus as part of a community art project and fundraiser sponsored by the Purdue School of Veterinary Medicine and the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette.

The “Dog Days of Summer” exhibit officially opened Saturday. Artists from Indiana and other areas decorated the fiberglass dog forms, and the works will be auctioned when the exhibit ends in October.

The two stolen statues were entitled, ”Give a Dog a Bone,” located outside the Veterinary school’s Lynn Hall and “Alfie the Alpha Dog,” which was in front of the West Lafayette Public Library. Whoever took the initial two statues loosened all but one bolt, breaking a leg off on “Give a Dog a Bone.”

Kevie Doerr, director of alumni relations and public affairs with the School of Veterinary Medicine and a member of the Dog Days of Summer committee, said they will offer a reward of up to $250 for safe return of the artwork.

(Photo: One of the dog sculptures is bolted down, prior to exhibit opening; courtesy Dog Days of Summer Committee)

Now parents can get drug-sniffing dogs

Just in time for school — and just a little bit creepy  — a New Jersey company has announced what it says is the first enterprise of its kind: making drug-sniffing dogs available to parents concerned their children might be using drugs.

Launching to coincide with the back-to-school season, Sniff Dogs, LLC offers a confidential drug detection service — police aren’t involved at all – in which dogs specially trained to locate drugs discreetly sniff out Junior’s room or workplace.

The company’s website explains how it works.

“You set up an appointment with Sniff Dogs when you’re going to be home by yourself. A search performed while the party-of-concern is not present is a critical success factor — as not only does it reduce conflict and anxiety, it also helps to retain discretion, should a subsequent search be warranted.”

The website says the dog doesn’t actually locate the drugs, or specify what type, but just gives a sign that they are present.

It’s up to parents to ransack Junior’s room after that.

Founded by a Union County woman, Sniff Dogs uses dogs trained to locate marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methadone, xanax and ecstasy –- “as a private service with no law enforcement or government affiliation.”

In a press release, the company says the discovery of drugs can lead to a “fact-based conversation with their loved ones regarding drug use, allowing for early intervention.”

Sniff Dogs was founded by a Summit, N.J. mother, who thought other means of drug detection were “extremely limited and universally intrusive,” and that drug-sniffing dogs “fosters a more supportive and family-friendly solution for intervention.

Branches in Ohio and New Jersey have already been established and additional Sniff Dogs operations will be launching soon, the press release says.