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LIU Global Student's Research Shows Healthy Pets Improve Outlook for the Homeless


Alka Gupta,Assistant Director of Public Relations
LIU Brooklyn,
Long Island University

LIU Global Student Emma Newton in Bklakuppe IndiaBrooklyn, N.Y. – Emma Newton knows her purpose in life.

The 21-year-old LIU Global senior wants to create global awareness about the link between animal and human welfare.

"The world we live in is like a giant web," said the Portland, Ore. native, who graduates this May with a bachelor's degree in global studies. "You pull on one string, and it will have an effect half a world away.

The human-animal relationship epitomizes this, and I want to explore how animals fit into our emotional and physical health."

Newton's passion for her subject has been solidified through her education at LIU Global, a leader in international experiential learning. Through her travels across the globe with the college, she has focused her research on pet owners who are rendered homeless by economics, natural disaster and domestic violence.

"In any emergency in which evacuation is required, it has been found that people who are separated from their pets are more traumatized," Newton said. "Keeping them together is an important part of the healing process."

During the fall semester, she conducted a study of displaced people and their companion animals at Portland Animal Welfare Team (PAW Team), a non-profit organization that provides free services to homeless pets. Through fieldwork, surveys and observation of PAW Team clientele, Newton found that when a pet is healthy, its owner reported higher satisfaction with their stress levels, in employment and with their situation living at a shelter.

"What makes a family? Companion animals may be considered part of the family socially, but they are not considered so legally," she said. "Social services aren't available to the homeless with pets. There needs to be better understanding and communication between animal welfare and social service organizations."

Newton, interning this semester at the Staten Island Zoo, will present her findings at The International Society for Anthrozoology Conference in Chicago in July. After graduation, she will continue her research at PAW Team, while pursuing a master's program in Anthrozoology at Canisius College, with the eventual goal of veterinary school.

At LIU Global, Newton has amassed extensive global experience working with homeless animals. As a research volunteer with Dharmsala Dog Rescue in India, she took part in animal birth control and rabies vaccination programs for stray dogs. In an animal sanctuary in Cusco, Peru, she helped care for endangered, trafficked wild animals, such as pumas, condors and macaws. She volunteered with the Elephant Nature Park in Chang Mai, Thailand, and Lanna Dog Welfare. She now co-curates an exhibit on the homeless and their companion animals at the National Museum of Animals and Society in Los Angeles, entitled "My Dog is My Home."

At LIU, Newton is the recipient of LIU's Morris Mitchell Scholarship and the Dean's Lead-Serve Scholarship for outstanding leadership and service experience. For Newton, her ultimate goal is to help people to understand that "the success of animals and humans is dependent on the success of each. We can't separate one from the other."

LIU Brooklyn is distinguished by...
dynamic curricula reflecting the great urban community it serves. Distinctive programs encompass the arts and media, the natural sciences, business, social policy, urban education, the health professions and pharmacy, and include the Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, the Ph.D. in Pharmaceutics, the D.P.T. in Physical Therapy and the Pharm.D. in Pharmacy. A vibrant urban oasis in downtown Brooklyn, this diverse and thriving campus offers academic excellence, personalized attention, small class size and flexible course schedules. In 2006, a $45-million Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center was opened to serve the Campus and the surrounding community. In 2007, the Cyber Café was launched, providing a high-tech hot spot for students and faculty members to meet and eat.

Posted 04/16/2013

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