‘Dollars for Delilah’s’ fundraiser inspires animal rights group

RAW educates organization raising money for pet shop after November fire

POSTED AT 12:17 AM ON Dec. 10, 2008 


When Courtney Wennerstrom found out about the fire at Delilah’s Pet Shop and the subsequent fundraising efforts from a class campaign called Dollars for Delilah’s, she said she felt awful.

And not just for the 20 animals that were killed in the Nov. 4 blaze – Wennerstrom felt bad for the students leading the fundraising.

After a Dec. 3 article in the Indiana Daily Student about the group trying to help the pet shop, several animal rights activists in the IU community expressed anger that the money would go to a for-profit pet shop rather than an animal shelter.

Wennerstrom, a Ph.D. candidate, is one of the co-founders of Revitalizing Animal Well-Being, a student group that focuses on positive animal rights activism. Her group decided to reach out to the students of Dollars for Delilah’s.

“What we realized is that this well-meaning class wanted to help,” Wennerstrom said. “(Animal advocates) have good reason to be furious but didn’t realize these college students had the best intentions.”

Kara Kendall-Morwick, Ph.D. candidate and another member of RAW who worked closely with members of the class, added it is important to keep in mind that RAW is not accusing Delilah’s of anything but is just expressing concerns about the practice of selling animals.

“We have no doubt that they do treat their animals humanely but are a bit misguided in selling ... puppies and kittens,” Kendall-Morwick said.

Wennerstrom, Kendall-Morwick and other members of RAW worked with the students to explain that “purchasing an animal from a for-profit business is full of ethical quandaries.”

Kendall-Morwick said the students she talked to were responsive to the animal advocacy concerns, even after hearing some of the harsh criticism leveled at them.

“I felt like there were some issues that the students were not so aware of,” Kendall-Morwick said.

Senior Michael Kurth, who serves as the president of Dollars for Delilah’s, said that of all of the people who contacted them with criticism, the letters from RAW members stood out.

“Some of the people from RAW wrote very tactful and diplomatic letters,” Kurth said. “It made sense to talk to them and ease things out from the troubles.”

To this end, RAW is also sponsoring an animal adoption drive this week called “Adoption RAWks.” From now until Thursday, members of RAW will be in the Indiana Memorial Union from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. asking people to sign pledges to adopt rather than purchase animals.

The pledges will be turned into a “love letter” that will be sent to both Delilah’s and Anthony’s Pets at the College Mall, urging them to stop selling animals, Wennerstrom said.

“If we can get the IU community to stop buying pets, we can make a big difference,” Wennerstrom said.


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