New Scholarship Raises Awareness of Pet Overpopulation

New Scholarship Raises Awareness of Pet Overpopulation

Samantha Roesler, Executive Editor

FGCU is partnering with non-profit organization For the Love of Cats by offering a scholarship to biology students that have the intent to go into veterinary practice in SWFL.

For the Love of Cats is a Marco Island-based organization with the goal of ending pet overpopulation in Collier County. The organization was founded by Jim and Jan Rich in 2002 when they realized the island was overrun with homeless and abandoned cats.

Debbie Lanham is the Program Specialist at For the Love of Cats, and she was the one who initiated the idea of a scholarship.

“There is a crisis of the wellbeing of our community, and we need to work together to overcome it,” Lanham said. “We tend to focus our beautiful beaches, but we have hotspots here in Collier County where you can see cat carcasses.”

Lanham is hoping that this scholarship will raise awareness of the importance of veterinary technicians in the area while educating all students on the problem of pet overpopulation.

“This is us investing in our future medical team that will be taking care of these animals,” Lanham said. “We would love for FGCU to partake more with vet techs and assistants, there is a big need so the more we can encourage animal lovers to go into that field the better.”

All students regardless of their major can volunteer their time with For the Love of Cats while also learning about pet overpopulation. During the peak of the pandemic, For the Love of Cats donated 30,000 pounds of pet food to the community so people wouldn’t displace their animals due to financial difficulties. When surrounding shelters shut down, For the Love of Cats stepped up and did more spay and neuter surgeries than they had done in past years.

“We only have so many boots on the ground, so the more we can collectively work together to solve this problem, the quicker we will overcome it,” Lanham said. “Collier County and some government positions “view” pets as wildlife. Lack of pet owner spay, neuter and vaccinations contribute majorly to the pet overpopulation.”

The For the Love of Cats Scholarship Program started in May, and the recipient will be announced in the fall. If you are interested in volunteering your time to this non-profit or finding out if you are eligible to apply for this scholarship, visit