UCLA Spotlight


Michelle Kelly, Slavic Languages and Literature

  • By Judy Lin Eftekhar
  • Published Dec 1, 2001 8:00 AM

Michelle Kelly, a graduate student in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, wants to complete her dissertation within a year. But she is also on a nearly full-time mission to save the lives of abandoned rabbits.

"I was raised in the country and love animals," says Kelly. Soon after moving from Rochester, N.Y., to Los Angeles two years ago, Kelly headed to the West Los Angeles Animal Shelter to "see what I could do to help." She has since almost single-handedly saved scores of rabbits from almost-certain euthanasia.

In the beginning, Kelly recalls, "I had no special affinity for rabbits." But she noticed that, compared to the shelter's cats and dogs, "the rabbits' plight was more desperate," living in stacked cages in a cramped hallway. Using her own money and contributions from others, Kelly bought new cages and improved the storage area.

She visits the shelter daily to clean the cages and feed, groom and pet her furry charges, and drives the rabbits to and from a veterinarian for neutering, a procedure she often pays for herself.

Kelly also finds new homes for her rabbits, a daunting task. "For every one rabbit somebody wants," she explains, "five other people want to dump theirs." This year, Kelly has managed to find homes for an unheard-of 100% of the shelter's healthy rabbits.

"Animals are like children, very innocent," she says. "We have a moral responsibility to take care of them."