Laura Hobgood-Oster, professor of religion and environmental studies at Southwestern University in Georgetown, spent her childhood summers admiring wild ponies on Assateague Island in Virginia. At a young age, she volunteered to care for rats in biology experiments for school, and her parents, both animal lovers, encouraged a Christian love that included animals, she said.
Since the 1990s, Hobgood-Oster, 46, has been studying the divinity in animals that humans sometimes ignore or take for granted. But she said that in the past decade, religious attention on the environment, increasing attention on consumption of animals as food and our emotional connection to pets have led to a surge of interest in what used to be considered a rather esoteric field. Hobgood-Oster has worked in churches and colleges, but she seems most at home in animal shelters. When she is not teaching seminars like “Going to the Dogs” — dogs are sometimes allowed to attend — she works as the dog rescue coordinator at the Georgetown Animal Shelter.
Laurie led us to adopt Jazz, a Katrina rescue dog, from the Georgetown Animal Shelter.
Read about Jazz in chapter one of Laurie’s new book, The Friends We Keep: Unleashing Christianity’s Compassion for Animals. Unleash your compassion.