Pets help people. They help children and adults with disabilities. They comfort the sick in hospitals. They improve their owners’ physical and emotional well-being. For some people dogs, in particular, make their lives better. This was the essay topic of Animal Behavior College’s (ABC) 2017 Coastal Pet Products, Inc. Scholarship contest.
People also help pets. Some choose to help them by volunteering or working in rescues and shelters. Some become professional dog or cat trainers who help build harmonious human-animal bonds between pets and their owners. Others join the world of veterinary medicine to treat their illnesses and ensure their health and overall well-being is the best it can be. This latter group was the topic for ABC’s 2017 Sleepypod Scholarship contest “What do you hope to achieve as a veterinary assistant.”
Both contests awarded three winners full-ride scholarships. Coastal Pet Products, Inc. sponsored the two Dog Obedience Program scholarships that were awarded to Angel Ribolla (pictured here) and Charlie Curtis, and Sleepypod sponsored a Veterinary Assistant scholarship that was awarded to Douglas “DJ” Mann (pictured here).
“Promoting education through scholarship is important to Coastal Pet Products,” said Marcy Ream, director of marketing for the Alliance, Ohio-based pet products manufacturer. “It supports our industry and the people in it who invest time and resources in enriching the relationships between pets and people.”
“Veterinary assistants perform a remarkable and integral role in the veterinary care process,” said Michael Leung, co-founder and lead product designer for Sleepypod, a Pasadena, California-based company recognized for reinventing pet products through innovative design. “Sleepypod is honored to work with Animal Behavior College to provide resources to an aspiring veterinary assistant. We look forward to all that Douglas Mann will accomplish as a veterinary team member.”
“We appreciate Coastal Pet Products and Sleepypod’s commitment and support of professional dog trainer and veterinary assistant education,” said Steven Appelbaum, president and CEO of Animal Behavior College. “This year’s scholarship winners shared touching stories of how dogs made their lives better and expressed a sincere commitment to helping owners build strong and dynamic relationships with their pets. Together we are working toward turning these award recipients’ dreams into reality.”
After being advised to evacuate for hurricane Irma, Angel Ribolla of Pensacola, Florida, began gathering up her son, two dogs and cats.
“Scrambling through my house to pack, I picked out the things that meant the most to me,” Ribolla wrote. “It really was just my animals. I was willing to sacrifice all of my material possessions and everything that I have worked hard for, just to make sure I had room to pack dog food and supplies for them. In a moment where I was escaping and saving the few things that I could, my animals are what mattered because they could never be replaced.”
Faced with a parent’s most difficult challenge, Charlie Curtis of Ventura, California, was brokenhearted after receiving her 2-year-old daughter’s cancer diagnosis. The treatments caused her daughter to frequently cry out in heart-wrenching pain. One afternoon, a woman brought her beautiful white dog to her daughter’s room and asked her if the dog could visit.
“I just sobbed and nodded, yes,” Curtis wrote. “The dog was a true angel, bringing unconditional love and for just a brief moment through her [daughter’s] pain, my 2-year-old stopped crying and smiled. My daughter has now been battling cancer for over 5 years and through each hospitalization, I have learned firsthand just how needed these dogs are.”
For Douglas Mann of Bronx, New York, his goal is to make a difference in the lives of animals especially those who are abused.
“As a veterinary assistant, I plan to help animals, veterinarians and pet owners that love and care for them,” he wrote. “I also want to help abused and neglected animals by identifying signs. There are too many animals being hurt, and I feel it’s my duty to help stop it.”
The essay contest provides financial assistance and support for future student pet professionals enrolled in ABC’s dog training and veterinary assistant programs. To qualify, applicants needed to demonstrate a financial need and submit an essay. Judges reviewed each entry and selected three applicants who communicated their goals best.