Best Practices: Humane Education

What is humane education, and is a rescue organization obligated to engage in it? Shereen Raucci of Mile High Weimaraner Rescue located some great resources for those of us who feel called to raise awareness:

Shereen’s Take:

A humane person is one who shows great compassion, tenderness, and caring for others, including animals, and who tries whenever possible to alleviate another’s suffering

The idea of being humane is linked to a higher level of a person’s character. While the word is derived from the word human, the sad fact is that a person can be human without being humane.

 

Humane Education starts with us! We can continue to save dogs but along with that it is imperative that we educate others about responsible pet ownership, to hopefully cut the chain of abuse, and lessen the number of homeless pets. Together we can show others that they can help animals and make a real difference in the world.

 

Humane Education is a growing movement. From small animal advocate groups to nationally broadcast shows, there is more focus on teaching society about responsible pet care & stopping abuse. These groups target everyone from children & teens, to adults. They provide programs for schools, camps, community and even in prisons, all of which we’ll talk more about later on. For now, let’s talk about what the “Hot Topics” are.

Educating society about breeds. Many breeds are misunderstood & often used for abusive & inappropriate behaviors

Show how irresponsible owners help create negative perceptions & how society can change that perception

Educate adopters/owners on how to choose the right breed, age, temperament, etc

Talk about realistic expectations such as time commitment, financial obligation, proper feeding, vet care, exercise, etc

Encourage the benefits of professional training; most times it’s the person that needs training!

Teach them how to understand the dog & its needs & how it can positively impact their everyday life

Spay/Neuter!

Teach the importance of spay/neuter. We know there are not enough homes for all the dogs and cats born each year, but does the general public know that?

Work in the community to provide low-cost spay/neuters

Pet First Aid

What would you do if you were hiking and your dog got bit by a rattlesnake? Or if they cut their paw on a fence? Or stopped breathing? Had a seizure?

Help prepare pet first aid kits to have on hand, be prepared!

The saying “Don’t buy while shelter pets die” sums up a lot!

Support awareness about puppy mills, backyard breeders & how the cute puppies in the pet stores get there (and where they came from)

Prevent animal abuse

Many groups target children in hopes of breaking that chain of abuse

Media and large organizations have been beneficial in promoting prevention of animal abuse, shutting down dog-fighting rings, closing in on puppy mills and more.

Support stricter enforcement and punishment for those suspected or convicted of animal cruelty

 

How do we Get the Message Across?

With today’s technology we can share the message all across the country! Have you been on Facebook or Twitter and seen how these link rescue groups to one another? With these two simple tools we can reach thousands of people.

In most communities there are radio and local television stations that allow rescue groups to promote adoptable pets, and also giving a chance to educate viewers. Regardless of the group or the breed they rescue, this brings awareness to rescue.

Attend events and talk with everyone! If allowed bring dogs that tell a story, for example, not only is it good socialization to bring a shy, puppy mill rescue to a public event, but it also makes people question why your dog is cowering and looking petrified. If you can’t bring pets, bring flyers with pictures and short stories to grab people’s attention.

Talk with other rescuers. I’ve met so many new people at events, some that have helped me find local radio stations to appear on, or ideas for a community event, or even the chance to pair up and do a fundraiser.

Local newspapers – most want $ to place an ad but recently I met a local reporter who didn’t even know about dog rescue. After talking and then emailing back and forth, she convinced a senior reporter to write a story & place a photo for our group at no cost.

Check out blogs – you’ll be surprised how many people you meet who share the same passion for rescue.

For all of us that have been asked to participate in writing the Best Practices Manual, we are a huge part of Kyla’s mission to support rescue and Humane Education. Organizations like Up For Pups, can be found popping up all over the country now. Be a part of these groups, support the mission, and it can only help spread the word of stopping abuse and promoting responsible pet ownership.

Very simply, talk to your neighbors, friends, co-workers, and family members.

 

Yes, humane education starts with us, but where else can we find resources to help?

 

Below are several websites to check out & if you don’t find what you’re looking for here, google and you will find plenty more!

http://www.unchainyourdog.org/Teachers.htm

http://www.forpitssake.org/

http://www.bestfriends.org/atthesanctuary/humaneeducation/classroomresources.cfm

http://www.bestfriends.org/atthesanctuary/humaneeducation/startinghe.cfm

http://www.petstation.com/

http://www.artforpaws.net/humaneeducation.html

Check with the Humane Society in your area. Most do presentations at schools, for employer groups, and at community events. Some offer programs and tours at the shelter. For example, Larimer Humane Society in Fort Collins, CO offers a week long class for kids 8-13 where they learn hands-on, they also offer a class for younger kids, read to pets, and more!

There are many community programs that target kids. Here are some of the benefits:

Builds Moral Character. Helps our kids develop compassion, empathy and ethics and, most importantly, it reinforces the Golden Rule.

Creates Responsible and Caring Citizens.  Helps our kids examine and understand the consequences of their behaviors and choices through discussions of proper and improper treatment of pets.

Reduces Violence.  Children who display violence to animals often go on to engage in violent acts toward their peers and sometimes even carry these behaviors into adulthood.

Cultivates Empathy for Animals. Helps children understand that animals are living, feeling beings that deserve to be treated with respect and compassion.

Empowers Youth to Make a Difference. Helps children develop a sense of control within their environment and learn ways in which they can help solve problems rather than to create them.

There are animal advocate groups of all sizes dedicated to Humane Education. While researching this I found the Institute for Humane Education in Maine that offers long-distance graduate degrees; Humane Society of the U.S Youth has been publishing a humane education publication, called KIND News for over 25 years and it reaches 1 million kids from kindergarten to sixth grade; Safe Humane Chicago has volunteers that spend over 1500 hours a year in at-risk neighborhoods;

We can teach young children to care for animals, teach them empathy, & responsibility. One of the ways that we can help older children is to rekindle their interest by showing how animals basic needs relate to our own. We can teach adults that adopting a pet is a lifetime commitment. How to properly socialize a dog, providing a clean environment, good food, fresh water, preventative vet care, care for injured or ill pets, etc.

I could go on and on as there are endless lessons to teach, and learn, and there are numerous ways to teach others, whether as an individual, a small group, or a large organization. As I researched this topic, I found myself learning more, and realizing that although I do teach these lessons in my daily life, I want to do more. I need to do more and I will. I hope you will share this too!

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