FMU Animal Rights Advocates seek new members

Johnathan Rainey, Staff Writer

A new organization at Francis Marion University is attempting to get off the ground.  The FMU Animal Rights Advocates are focused on serving needs locally as well as statewide to help the domestic animal population in South Carolina.

Founding members and FMU students Nicole Veneroso and Christopher Elmquist said that the purpose of the organization is to get students more involved with animals through volunteering and fundraising for the Florence Area Humane Society as well as other animal rights organizations.

A main objective of the group is to start a webpage focusing specifically on local animals with special needs.

According to Veneroso, the idea is to have “pictures and profiles of animals that have special conditions that were abused or have medical needs outside of the usual spay and neuter type of stuff.”

She also said that she would like to get some help with this area of the project from FMU students, such as gathering pictures and information about the animals.

Another goal of the group is to start taking initiative to reduce the feral cat population on campus.  Veneroso wants to work with a local spay/neuter clinic to begin a catch and release program.

Veneroso also had some ideas for getting students involved who may be less inclined to work directly with the animals. According to Veneroso, the legal side is another way students can help in cooperation with the Southern Animal Welfare League.

“They do a whole lot of lobbying and a whole lot of the legislation in South Carolina regarding animal laws and [animal] abuse laws,” Veneroso said. “They are interested in working with us, and that might be a place for people who are interested in more of the legal side of things to get involved.”

While Veneroso is spearheading the direct volunteer connections with local organizations such as the Florence Area Humane Society, Elmquist is in charge of the group administration.

In addition to the managerial side of things, he is also interested in working closely with organizations like the Southern Animal Welfare League.

“Animal legislation is a subject that’s very dear to my heart and personal life, so I’m definitely 100 percent in,” Elmquist said.

Although both Veneroso and Elmquist are ardent supporters of animal rights, their purpose for the FMU Animal Rights Advocates does not go beyond serving a need within the community.

“We’re not looking to push any political or dietary agenda,” Veneroso said. “If anyone wants to do anything positive – go for it.”

Veneroso said that her purpose for the group is involvement.

“My goal is not to take up a whole lot of people’s time, but to have people just get involved – even if it’s just signing petitions,” Veneroso said.

Information about the next group meeting as well as upcoming projects can currently be found on the FMU Animal Rights Advocates Facebook page at