Savannah Mary Verdon
Master’s in Animals and Public Policy (MAPP) Candidate 2017
B.S., Animal Science, Specialization in Animal Behavior, University of California, Davis, 2015
What were you doing before entering the MAPP program?
After graduating, I kept my position in doggie daycare (Lead daycare attendant, Grateful Dog Daycare) because I wanted a low-stress job that gave me time to explore internship and volunteer opportunities. I knew I still wanted a career with animals, but I wasn’t quite sure what it would be. I continued to volunteer with my local animal shelter and found an internship as a program coordinator for a monthly mobile veterinary clinic for homeless residents of San Francisco. This opened to my eyes to animal-related issues in local communities, and how volunteer effort can address them. In my spare time, I got heavily involved in cycling because where I’m from in California there are miles upon miles of beautiful bike trails that follow along the American River. I also made a point to spend as much time with my aging dogs as possible.
What aspects of MAPP led to your decision to join the program?
I fell in love with the MAPP program the moment I came across it. Finally there was an advanced degree relevant to animals that wasn’t veterinary medicine or animal behavior research. It focuses primarily on the human-animal bond, which has long been my passion. It was a relief to know that passion could be translated into advanced education and a career.
Interests in and experience with animals
My interests in and experience with animals is too far reaching to list here, but in particular I am interested in how humans and animals can have mutually beneficial and respectful relationships in local communities.
What do you want to focus on at MAPP? What drew you to this?
While a part of the MAPP program, I would like to learn more about animal-assisted therapy in special education classrooms and how this can be made a widespread reality through volunteer networks and classroom infrastructure. I believe this can do a lot to both keep students calm and focused in the classroom, as well as reduce stigma for these students and expand their social horizons. Furthermore, anything that fosters empathy between children and animals is beautiful to me because it means we are raising a generation of people to think and act compassionately toward animals. It was a long road to get to this idea, but for every volunteer position or internship I’ve ever had, it has always been apparent to me that a personal relationship with animals can enrich even the most trying of circumstances.
What are your career goals?
My goal is to be a pioneer in incorporating animal-assisted therapy into special education classrooms, as mentioned previously. Whether this means I work within school districts to provide funding and support for this goal, or manage a volunteer network of therapy animals and their handlers, I am not yet sure.
What are your outside interests?
I enjoy cycling, hiking, going to punk shows, drinking iced lattes, playing with my dogs, reading modern literature, and listening to records, often all in the same weekend!
Number of pets? What?
I am the proud caregiver to two aging dogs, a chubby and happy corgi named Tank and a thin and seemingly wise Irish terrier mix named Jack. While they will be staying behind with my family in California, they are with me every step of the way, leaving a trail of hair and drool.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I am incredibly grateful to be a part of this program and to learn from like-minded peers.
MS in Animals and Public Policy
The MS in Animals and Public Policy (MAPP) is an intensive, 12-to-16-month graduate degree program that focuses on human-animal relationships and their implications for policy and community action.
Center for Animals and Public Policy
The mission of the Tufts Center for Animals and Public Policy (CAPP) is to conduct and encourage scholarly evaluation and understanding of the complex societal issues and public policy dimensions of the changing role and impact of animals in society. Work conducted by the Center is based on the tenets that animal well-being matters, that animal and human well-being are linked, and that both are enhanced through improved understanding of human-animal relationships.