UQ Business School Honours student Christilene du Plessis has been awarded a $25,000 RSPCA Qld Scholarship to help in the search for an ethical way to find homes for Queensland shelter animals.
The one-off scholarship, financed by the Petcare Information Advisory Service (PIAS), will fund Ms du Plessis' market research as part of RSPCA Qld's one-year trial selling refuge animals through commercial pet shops.
Ms du Plessis, 22, of Annerley, said she was extremely excited to be the scholarship recipient as it allowed her to make a contribution to the community while also fulfilling her marketing Honours thesis requirements.
"I'm very interested in corporate social responsibility and how that relates to marketing and I just thought this was a wonderful opportunity to make a positive difference as part of my studies," Ms du Plessis said.
RSPCA Qld's novel trial began last month, with cats and dogs from its shelters now on sale at Petbarn in Lawnton and the RSPCA's World for Pets Superstore at Springwood.
RSPCA Qld Scientific Research Officer Mandy Symons said the animals were de-sexed, vaccinated, wormed and micro-chipped and RSPCA staff and volunteers were responsible for the care and sale of the pets.
"We need to find ways to successfully re-home more animals because at the moment the sad truth is that we are putting thousands of animals, especially kittens, to sleep every year," Dr Symons said.
She said it was decided to offer a student the chance to undertake the market research for this trial because the end product would be value for money and of a high standard.
PIAS Director Tim Adams agreed: "We prefer to work with universities because you get very high quality investigation done with a lot of transparency and we find that everyone stands to benefit from it, including the student doing the work".
UQBS academic supervisor for the Honours thesis Associate Professor Frank Alpert said the scholarship, possibly the largest ever UQBS scholarship awarded, represented a win-win situation for all involved.
"The project will use state-of-the-art methodology to address a market research need and, because it is not simply a consulting project but will also result in an original contribution to the marketing literature, it will produce an Honours thesis that is academically rigorous," Associate Professor Alpert said.
Representatives from RSPCA Qld and the PIAS will officially present Ms du Plessis with the letter of award of the scholarship on February 26 at the Honours Orientation event to be held at the Rooftop Terrace of the Colin Clark building.