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Animal Advocacy Wonk

Photo: Alyssia Alexandria, CAS/BS '90

Alyssia Alexandria, CAS/BS '90

American University's wonks come in all shapes, sizes, and disciplines. Here's Alyssia Alexandria's, CAS/BS '90, story — in her own words. Alexandria is the founder of the My Darling Theo Foundation.

My mom was a visiting nurse in New York and she brought home everything with a broken wing or leg, so I’ve been involved with animals all my life. I’ve personally rescued 10 animals, all cats, and now have a little puppy. My cat Theo was number one. When he died, I decided that I was going to found a nonprofit in his name. I wanted to create the first “superfund” for animal shelters — and to go after organized dog fighting. We have to say no, we’re not going to tolerate it. The cost of ignorance regarding animals is very high because we share the world with them.

One of my biggest passions is to break the cycle of domestic violence, child abuse, and animal cruelty: The father abuses the mother, the mother abuses the child, the child abuses the animal. It’s a big circle. I’m gathering data on juvenile crime against animals. I’m going to create a juvenile crime map with the hope that the message will reach people who can influence policy and provide funding. MDT is trying to focus the message so people who are not part of the “movement” can understand and get on board.

At this point, the focus of the organization is educating the public so we can promote humane treatment of animals. If we can get to kids when they’re young, we can prevent them from doing bad things to animals.

I think that wonks are pioneers, people who follow their own star, who aim for the moon. Everybody wants to steer the ship when the sea is calm; when the sea is not calm, you have to be brave and steer the ship.