Some of the saddest goodbyes when leaving for college aren’t to people at all, but to our beloved pets. USC’s dog walking club, called Give a Dog a Bone, was started so students can foster a pet for a day and help the community through volunteering at a local shelter.
Give a Dog a Bone specializes in helping dogs at local shelters while also mutually benefitting student volunteers through improving mental health and facilitating relationship building.
Give a Dog a Bone was created in 2018 when founder Mac Chapman walked around campus with a dog and flyers promoting the organization. The club partners with Final Victory Animal Rescue to help the animals in the shelter. According to President Maddie Romanski, the club has grown monumentally since.
Romanski said the club is still recovering from the pandemic and that it is working on growing more as things open back up. The club's plans for growth include asking other organizations to help them volunteer because they have more people joining and a need for supplies.
Volunteering doesn’t only help the dogs, Romanski said. It is fulfilling and allows students to see and interact with animals again after moving to college where pets are more scarce.
“Personally, freshman year I missed my dog so much. I’ve grown up with dogs, so because we lived in a dorm, it was really nice to be able to go to the shelter, pet a cat or pet a dog and spend time with them,” Romanski said.
Vice President of Recruitment and Events Anaiah Kenas said this helps the dogs by getting them out of the shelter and giving them interaction.
“Isolation can be really bad for animals and being in the shelter for a really long period of time can be really unhealthy, so having people come in and just socialize them and make them feel loved … is really, really great,” Kenas said.
The organization has hosted “bark sales,” which involve selling baked goods around campus to fundraise for the shelter, Kenas said. It also has held events like “Suds and Buds,” where volunteers come and bathe the dogs in the facility.
Volunteer Maddi McLean said getting out and serving one’s community is rewarding, especially when it comes to helping dogs. She also said it aids in mental health.
“Going to help out at Final Victory, volunteering and just being around animals I found is so relaxing for me and it just takes your mind off of it,” McLean said.
McLean suggested joining the club as a way to not only get out and meet new people but to help the dogs as well. The organization has a “foster for a day” program where students can choose a dog that they want to spend more time with and foster them for the day. Students can take the dog on walks or even back to their house to help socialize the dog and give it a good time.
“I think volunteering at Final Victory is really special because you get to have a closer, kind of, connection with some of their dogs," McLean said. "Just going and giving back and helping out always feels good to me.”