Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

Kisses—that is puppy kisses—were all around this past Valentine’s Day, as many students attended the “Date a Dog Event” which was held in Sykes from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The hosts of the event were the Brandywine Valley SPCA and the WCU Alternative Break Trips. For the small fee of $3, students and faculty alike were welcome to come play with puppies and spread love with everyone this Valentine’s Day. All proceeds earned at this event were split evenly between the two organizations.

Brandywine Valley SPCA is a nonprofit organization with a total of three campuses, one being close to campus, and the other two located in Delaware. It was founded in 1929 and is one of the largest no-kill and open admission shelters in the area. In 2017, they provided shelter and care to 13,000 animals.

“We do things with the university quite frequently. Students come out to the shelter and do service days for us, we come here and you guys pretty much fundraise for us all the time,” said Jackie McNeill, the community engagement coordinator at Brandywine Valley SPCA.

Eight football-sized puppies entered the Sykes Ballroom all ready to play, be loved and give some love to the students, in return. The puppies varied in breeds and were all available for adoption.

“Doing these events gets exposure for the animals, and the animals get to be socialized and stimulated so it helps them behaviorally, helps them get adopted and then also raises money for our shelter,” said McNeill.

“Luckily, we have tons of cute little puppies in the shelter so we brought them in and they’re killing it right now,” McNeill added.

Not only was this event about raising money and supporting the Brandywine Valley SPCA and WCU Alternative Breaks, but this event, along with many others, are done on campus to provide destressors for the students.

“I am always so excited when puppies are in Sykes. They are such a destressor and so cute to see,” said senior accounting and finance major Caroline McDonnell.

“I was visiting WCU for the day and I saw there would be puppies so of course I had to head over there. I agree with the values of the SPCA, so I was really happy to help out this cause and get to spend part of my day playing with puppies,” said Robert Rennie, a senior kinesiology major visiting from Temple University.

Even though the puppies stole the show at the event, many representatives from the WCU Alternative Break program were present to help ensure everything ran smoothly.

The WCU Alternative Break program is facilitated through the Office of Service-Learning and Volunteer Programs. During semester breaks at WCU, students involved in this organization travel to many different communities to spend their time off from school doing service. Typically, these service trips occur during spring break, however this year the organization is also adding two trips in the summer.

“The biggest thing we want to do is help address communities’ needs,” said Raymond LeChien, a trip leader and senior communication studies major at WCU.

To be able to assist others in the communities and go on these trips, the Alternative Break program relies on fundraising. They also offer scholarships to help students afford these trips. As such, the Alternative Break Program partners with many events on campus to promote their causes and raise money for the program.

“We wanted to do a puppy event because we knew how well-received the therapy dogs are because therapy dogs or not, there’s just something so great about seeing something so cute. It’s a Wednesday, the middle of the week, so this is just a good break for people,” said LeChien.

For anyone who missed this event or could not attend, fear not, because more four-legged friends will be making more appearances on campus this semester.

More information about the Brandywine Valley SPCA can be found at and more information about the WCU Alternative Breaks can be found at

Mackenzie Haverdink is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies. ✉

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