Savannah Aanderud, a junior medical biology major, is the president and founder of the Care for Critters organization at USD.
Molly Sperlich: Why did you start this organization and when was it founded?
Savannah Aanderud: We started it in spring of last year. I have always had a huge love for animals and I knew that Vermillion did not have a Humane Society. Also, I had just gotten a cat and having to take him to the vet here I realized there aren’t many resources available to animals. There are so many animals in this community especially, that need help.
MS: What are you hoping to accomplish through this organization?
SA: Helping animals in need who don’t get the care they deserve. Our main goal is to help the animals in this community, but then we also do a lot with Heartland Humane Society because they serve Vermillion. We do a lot with TNR, or trap, neuter, release.
MS: How does trap, neuter, release work?
SA: Every once and a while, Heartland Humane Society will come to Vermillion and set up live traps to trap cats and fix them, then they will be released back into the wild. So, when we do fundraising events that is what a lot of our money goes to.
MS: What sort of events do you hold to fundraise?
SA: Last fall we had a 5k, it wasn’t huge since it was the first semester we were a student organization, but we did end up raising over $300. We also had a DIY dog toy meeting where members of our organizations made homemade dog and cat toys and we donated them to Heartland.
MS: How many members are in Care for Critters?
SA: I think on USD Involved for actual approved members on the roster we have about 70. But, we also partner with the community and we have a Facebook page with over 200 members.
MS: What are your goals for this organization and how do you hope it will grow?
SA: I hope that more people want to get involved on our executive team. I want to continue growing and become involved in more things. When we talked about our long-term goals we talked about maybe getting Vermillion its own Humane Society.
MS: Since Vermillion is a smaller community, why do you think there is such a big problem with Verm Cats and why hasn’t there been more of an effort to control it?
SA: A big thing is if you have one male cat and one female cat, they can reproduce at extremely fast rates. We have a chart that shows how many kittens can come from one couple and it’s an astounding number. So, when you don’t have a Humane Society or any way to control it, a small feral cat population can just blow up.
MS: How can students get involved in your organization?
SA: The easiest way is to just join our Facebook page, otherwise you can just email me or email Care for Critters. We are always looking for suggestions.