By Bhriana Smith | Posted on April 26, 2016
When Kean students take Group Communication, a course required by the Communications Department, students must form groups and find a way to give back to their community together.
Students from Professor Allison Edgely’s course hosted an event titled KUPLAYFURPAWS on Thursday, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Miron Student Center game room.
KUPLAYFURPAWS was hosted as a charity game night to raise money for the Union Township Animal Shelter. The event was planned and executed in its entirety by the class.
Edgely, an adjunct communication professor at Kean, has had group communication classes plan events akin to this one in the past.
“This event –due to the logistics and the contributions –is definitely my favorite,” said Edgely.
The charity game night consisted of a Family Feud tournament, pool tournaments and a myriad of board games. The class asked for 3 dollar donations, animal food and/or anything pertaining to animal welfare for entry.
A bake sale commenced in the hall of the Miron Student Center as the game night was underway in the game room.
Some of the prizes that were distributed throughout the night were gift cards for Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Applebee’s and the European Wax Center.
“We’ve been planning this event since the beginning of the semester,” said Sarah Pearson, a senior communication studies major.
To spread the word of the event, some of the classmates created a social media hashtag #KUPLAYFURPAWS. In conjunction with the social media hashtag was a photobooth, where participants could use props and post their pictures to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook using the hashtag.
“We’ve started promoting this event via social media in February,” said Ashley Young, a senior communication major. “I’m extremely happy with the turnout.”
Another station the students set up was an adoption station, run by junior communication major Yasmeen Lake.
“I’m giving out pictures and descriptions of animals that are up for adoption,” said Lake. “If people are interested, I take their information and then they’ll be contacted by the shelter.
He continued: “There are all kinds of dogs up for adoption. Some were abandoned, and others are like pits [bulls] that have a negative stigma for fighting and being aggressive–but all of them deserve a loving, forever home.”
Joe Eckenrode, the supervising animal patrol officer of the shelter, along with his family, attended the charity event.
“We get a lot of girls scouts and organizations like that who come in to do volunteer work, but when this class reached out to me it completely shocked me,” said Eckenrode. “I’ve never done an event like this at another university.”
Eckenrode, originally from Linden, N.J., has been working for the shelter for three years and has worked in animal patrol for eight years. Once given the supervisor position, he expressed his intentions to better the shelter.
“We’re trying to renovate the shelter now,” said Eckenrode. “Its been there for close to 20 years. Unfortunately, we’re too well hidden.”
The “hiding” Eckenrode refers to is the shelter’s location behind two big corporations –Walmart and Home Depot.
“Before the Home Depot was there, there was a huge shelter in that lot,” explained Eckenrode. “Home Depot and Walmart teamed up and bought that whole property, but the shelter decided it didn’t want to move. The companies demoed the previous shelter and built a new one, which is where we are now.”
The Union Township Animal Shelter, which patrols the Union and Kenilworth areas, is located off Route 22. The shelter is home to many animals, including a few pit bull mixes, which Eckenrode expressed is the hardest breed to adopt out.
“Pit bull mixes are the most difficult to adopt, even though they can be some of the greatest dogs out there,” he said. “People aren’t going to hear the good stories about pits, they’re going to hear the bad.”
Eckenrode stated the easy accessibility of pit bulls is part of the reason their reputation is so low.
“They [pit bulls] are overbred, and too often they fall into the hands of the wrong people due to their easy accessibility,” Eckenrode said. “If you go to Newark or Elizabeth, and say ‘hey, I’m looking for a pit bull puppy’, I guarantee you in earshot there is going to be somebody who knows somebody with puppies that they’re just trying to get rid of.”
One pit bull mix who is close to Eckenrode’s heart is a black and white, female named Batgirl. Her name was given to her because the shape of her ears.
“Her ears do this weird flop thing,” Eckenrode joked as imitated the movement with his hands. “It almost looks like a weird bat symbol.”
Batgirl was found roaming the streets of Vauxhall, N.J. about eight months ago. She is projected to be a approximately a year-and-a-half to two years old.
“We believe that she was dumped, and it appeared like she had puppies,” he said. “My speculation is that they kept her liter and abandoned her.
While that is just a speculation, Eckenrode is pretty certain that his presumptions of Batgirl’s past is correct.
“I’ve been doing animal patrol for eight years,” he said. I’ve seen this same situation way too many times.”
The shelter is home to many animals like Batgirl, and it is those animals that push Eckenrode’s drive to quickly renovate the shelter.
“Our conditions are good,” he said. “It’s just an old shelter that needs a little bit of love, and until recently we haven’t been getting that.”
One of the projects Eckenrode is trying to update are the dog runs. Dog runs, also known as kennels, also happened to be what Edgely’s group communication class wanted to raise money for.
“We want to raise money for at least two or three kennels,” said Edgely.
As of Friday, April 22, the class raised $700 for the Union Township Animal Shelter.
The shelter has a Facebook Page Union Township Animal Shelter, the is updated daily with information regarding animals that are up for adoption. The official page of the shelter is here.
To contact the shelter, call 908-851-5230. The hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adoption hours, in which the shelter is open to the public, are Monday through Friday 12 p.m. to 3p.m., and Saturday 1p.m. to 3 p.m. The shelter is closed on Sundays.