How I Became an Animal Advocate

I have been passionate about animals ever since I was young. I’ve always been interested in their care such as, feeding them, giving them exercise and making sure that they’re loved. For me, animals are the best: they give unconditional love and are like “partners in crime.” I believe that animals have just as much value as humans; they are not inferior. They can’t talk like we do but they communicate with their bodies – and their bodies say everything!

Compassion in action

The first time I visited the Montreal SPCA was two years ago when we were looking to adopt a new cat. I immediately wanted to volunteer at this great animal-care centre but the minimum age was 18, and I was too young. So when my mom saw a Facebook post about a youth program at the shelter, she knew it was for me. My participation in the ENGAGE: Animal Welfare Education program is one of the best experiences I have ever had. I loved working with the shelter animals and found it very exciting.

After being in the program, I’m more passionate about animals than ever. I feel that this program connected me with animals in ways I had never experienced before. It also changed my mind about what career I see for myself in the future: I wanted to be a surgeon but now I’m pretty sure I want to be a vet!

I think the most important thing I learned from this program is how to understand the behaviour of animals. I now know how to tell what cats and dogs are feeling based on the way they behave and the signals they send. If I could, I would take the program over again and again and again.

Spreading awareness about breed bans

I have come to believe that there are things I can now do to improve animal welfare in Québec. I can spread the word and talk about it to my friends, I can put up posters in the street, and share information on social media.

In fact, for my English class this semester, I had to choose a controversial topic for a presentation. My teacher gave us many choices but I chose to speak about the by-law banning “pitbull-type dogs” in Montréal.

I felt that dogs that could be affected by the breed ban  needed my help because the by-law wasn’t being talked about enough among people my age and many of my classmates had never heard about it. I think these dogs need people representing them—standing up for them and defending them.

I really think projects like the one I did on “pitbull-type” dogs can influence younger generations to speak up. After my presentation, my teacher did a class survey to find out who was for or against the by-law, and everybody had changed their minds: they were all against it! So I think projects like these educate younger people about our treatment of animals and help them imagine what our relationship with animals could be like.

 

ENGAGE: Animal Welfare Education is a non-profit organization dedicated to building empathy among youth. Through experiential learning with companion animals, ENGAGE encourages youth to practice the values of respect, compassion, responsibility and civic engagement.

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Mahe-Gougne-bioMahé Gougne

Mahé Gougne is a Secondary IV student at Collège Stanislas. She has three cats and one dog. Her cats are named Spottey, Safira and Zelda and her dog is called Java.