UHV biology major has soft spot for four-legged friends

Marissa Simon

University of Houston-Victoria student Marissa Simon knows a good night’s sleep is important. She also knows that, with space in her bed at a premium, it isn’t always easy.

Red, a copper-colored chow, enjoys calling the cozy space his own. Simon rescued Red, and he is living with her until she finds a permanent home for him.

“He’s spoiled,” Simon said with a laugh. “I don’t even let my own dogs sleep in my bed.”

The sophomore biology major said she has always had a soft spot for animals. Her family took in strays when she was a child, and she explained they had a virtual petting zoo of cats, dogs, hamsters and more. Simon kept up the habit as she grew.

One of her favorite rescue stories involves Red, whose owner had initially given up hope.

“When I took him in, he was thin and missing a lot of hair,” the 24-year-old said. “His owner was going to take him to the pound because they thought he had mange.”

The animal’s condition didn’t match the characteristics that go along with mange, however, and she delved further into the dog’s condition. As it turned out, he was simply suffering flea allergies.

“I’ve gotten attached to him now, and he’s a great dog,” she said. “It makes me smile to know that he didn’t go to the pound, where he might have wound up being euthanized.”

Red is one of two rescue dogs living with Simon as she works to find them homes.

Between her UHV course load, animal rescue work and pizza delivery job, Simon admits she doesn’t have much free time. When she does find a moment or two, she enjoys concerts and going to the movies.

Looking forward, she said she hopes to become a veterinarian. She’s doing everything she can to prepare since it’s a challenge to even get into veterinary school.

“Only one in three people get accepted,” she said. “It’s a little scary, but I’m getting as much experience as I can now.”

The Victoria resident recently joined Crossroads Pet Rescue, a new organization aimed at helping four-legged friends, and co-founded UHV’s Pre-Veterinary/Animal Career Student Organization.

“There are a lot of animals out there that need help,” Simon said. “It’s a big challenge. Obviously, I can’t do it all, but I want to help.”

The UHV Outstanding Student is an online feature highlighting the exceptional students who attend the University of Houston-Victoria. To nominate a student, contact UHV Communications Manager Paula Cobler or call 361-570-4350.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Allison Miles 361-570-4342