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Bethany DeZolt

M.S. in Animals and Public Policy (MAPP) Candidate 2022

B.A., International Affairs, The George Washington University, 2020

Cummings School News article 2/28/2022, Bethany DeZolt VG22 is on the Path to a Career in Animal Advocacy

What were you doing before entering the M.S. in Animals and Public Policy (MAPP) program?
During the pandemic, I created my own non-profit organization to help people adopt their fur-ever best friend called Buddy’s Besties, aptly named after my best friend Buddy. I developed this organization to assist those looking to adopt dogs and educate them on not only the puppy mill pipeline but also the human-animal bond.

What aspects of MAPP led to your decision to join the program?
As I was watching the Animal Matters Seminar by Gregory S. Berns, I came to the realization that there is a lot of research and different areas of study that I have yet to discover. When MAPP alumna, Julia Seeley, described the program as “life changing” I thought she was being cordial, but now I understand. The opportunities with the MAPP program are endless and I am thrilled to see where MAPP propels my future endeavors.

Interests in and experience with animals
For as long as I can remember, I have always loved dogs. Not only do I admire the unconditional love animals provide and the happiness they exude but am in constant astonishment of their outlook towards life. They are extremely resilient and forgive humanity despite the abuse they suffer. I believe we have a lot to learn from animals and society should acknowledge what they bring to the world.
I began my animal welfare journey by volunteering and fundraising for my local humane society. It was not until college that I learned about the diverse careers for people like myself who wish to dedicate their lives to ultimately ending animal cruelty. As a sophomore, I interned with the ASPCA’s government relations team and was able to gain in-depth knowledge of the operations of legislative affairs, and specifically how strategic campaigning can influence the public’s perception on animal welfare initiatives. Since then, I have continued to advocate against puppy mills and find rescue dogs their forever homes.

What do you want to focus on at MAPP?
At MAPP, I would like to concentrate on the ways animals can impact a person’s physical and mental well-being. Through social media, I learned about prison reform programs that allowed inmates to gain vocational skills while giving both inmates and rescue dogs a second chance. Initiatives such as the Pawsitive Change Program help individuals form a connection to animals who were thrown away and allow them to open up about their past trauma. If schools provided children with security and an outlet to discuss their past trauma, would they be able to find that power within to choose a better path for themselves? I would like to explore these questions with the help of the MAPP community and discover how animals can hinder the spiral of conflict.

What are your career goals?
In my career, I would like to utilize the energy and emotional support animals provide to help children dealing with trauma. Additionally, I aspire to use my passion for animal welfare to teach others about the human-animal bond and how important it truly is.

What are your outside interests?
During my free time I enjoy reading, watching the Great British Baking Show and searching for new coffee shops (hoping to see as many dogs as I can).

Number of pets? What type?
I have one perfect Shih Tzu named Buddy! He has been my best friend and muse for 14 years.

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