When Kris Foote wrote on her volunteer application that she loved animals and kids, it immediately piqued the interest of the humane education chairperson at the Heaven Can Wait Animal Society in Las Vegas, NV. One month later the new volunteer was teaching five different second and third grade classes about animal abuse, pet overpopulation and treating animals with kindness.
Twelve states have passed laws recognizing the importance of teaching humane education to children. It raises their level of empathy for other living creatures and can stop the link between cruelty to animals and domestic violence.
Most programs require the classroom teacher to do the work of learning the lessons and teaching it to the students. Heaven Can Wait’s Angels for Animals program was no different. There were great materials, but with the heavy workload of teachers only the most motivated took time to download and implement the program.
So when Kris Foote volunteered to take Angels for Animals directly into the class, there were leaps of joy from the rescue group and the schools. Five second and third grade classes immediately scooped her up.
During the next four weeks Kris gave lessons that included:
- Pets R Part Of Our Family – responsible pet guardianship
- Please Don’t Litter – pet overpopulation and the spay and neuter solution
- Animal Cruelty – breaking the chain of animal abuse
- Feral Cats – the tragedy of stray cats
Kris had a wonderful time working with the kids. “The children were very bright and very interested in the lessons,” said Kris. “They asked good questions. I felt like I helped instill empathy about animals in the students. It was very rewarding.”
Here are a few examples of the students’ reactions to the lessons they learned:
1.”If everyone had their cats and dogs spayed and neutered, wouldn’t cats and dogs become extinct?”
2. During the Please Don’t Litter class, Kris put up pictures of houses with velcro dots on them and the kids placed animals on the velcro dots (2 per house). When the houses were full, the students put 4 animals in a shelter. When the shelter was full, there were animals left over.
“We were talking about what happens to those animals who do not have a home or a shelter to go to, and that they may need to be put to sleep and go to heaven,” said Kris. “Right after the exercise, one student asked what if everyone was rich. In further talking to him, he was thinking if everyone was rich, all of the animals would have homes, or additional shelters could be built so there would be no homeless animals.”
3. During another session, Kris asked for a volunteer to come up and read a book out loud to the rest of the class. One second grade girl raised her hand for the job. When she walked up to Kris she said, “I can’t read very well, but I really want to do this.”
During the program the students wrote stories about pets becoming part of a family, they completed math problems that taught about pet overpopulation and they came up with ideas on how to stop animal abuse. They also put together toys for the dogs rescued by Heaven Can Wait. They wanted the to canines to have a toy to take with them to their new adopted homes.
Angels for Animals was created by Kim Yates, who is a teacher and board member for Heaven Can Wait. It can be downloaded “free of charge” by every teacher that would like to make use of it.
Photo credit: Heaven Can Wait Animal Society