The Cambridge and District Humane Society is attempting to reach as many school-age children as possible to teach them the importance of humane treatment of all living things. A very close link has been shown between animal abuse and family violence. Hopefully, by teaching young children about the proper treatment of household pets and animals in general, we will be sending information home which may eventually help the child's family relationships, or in some cases even prevent some negative situations from developing.
Many young children do not have pets in their families and have no idea how to approach or treat an animal. By introducing the children to healthy, happy animals in the classroom, we can help to show them the importance of being kind to these animals. Children who do have pets at home will be taught the proper care of these pets and the importance of making the pet a part of their family. It is also important that they realize the responsibility they have as pet owners, both to their animals and within the community.
Teachers may request a visit from the Humane Educator at any time during the school year by contacting Chris Spencer. Presentations are age-appropriate and may be enhanced by a short video related to the topic. Some of the topics, which have been designed and presented this year, are:
Dog Bite Prevention
With the help of the video, "Bite Free" students are made aware of some of the dangers of stray or unattended dogs. It is pointed out that some dogs will protect things and they should not try to touch a strange dog. They are also taught to stand still and not run from a dog. With a live dog as a demonstration, children are taught how to approach a dog on a leash, to ask permission to touch the dog and the procedure for petting a dog.
Wild Animals vs. Pets
Coloured pictures are used to help students understand the differences between wild animals and pet animals. It is stressed that wild animals should be left alone. The dangers of approaching wild animals or allowing a wild animal to contact a pet are outlined. The children are taught which animals make good pets and what those pets need to make them happy.
Children are taught that animals have feelings, in some ways very similar to the feelings that humans have. Ways in which animals show their feelings for one another and for their human companions are discussed. A video "Share the World" is used to demonstrate how some animals show their feelings.
How Animals Communicate
Various methods of communication between animals are shown. A video, "Share the World" is used to demonstrate how animals communicate with each other. It is also pointed out that animals, especially pets, communicate with humans quite well. Examples of how a pet dog or a pet cat is able to tell you that it is happy, angry, afraid, etc. or has to go outside are shown using pictures and group discussion.
Making Human Choices
Again, another part of the video, "Share the World" is used to demonstrate choices that humans can make to make the world a more humane place for both pets and for wild animals. It is pointed out that by cleaning up our garbage from fields and rivers that we remove some dangers for wild animals, such as plastic bags, six-pack rings, fishing line, hooks, etc. It is also emphasized that smaller, weaker individuals should not be "picked on" or made fun of in any way.
Animals and Humans
The similarities in the needs of humans and other animals are discussed, including relationships with other individuals. Food, water, shelter, etc. are compared as well as love and companionship. Differences between humans and other animals are also pointed out, especially the unique abilities and habits of some types of animals. The ways in which humans use animals, both in a positive way and a negative way are discussed within the group.
Responsible Pet Ownership
The children are taught that when they choose to have a pet that it is a major responsibility. Gerbils, Hamsters and Guinea Pigs are discussed and the importance of keeping the cages clean is emphasized. The social relationship of wild dogs (wolves) and wild cats (lions) is discussed, with the intent of showing the children that the dog and cat are social animals and need to be part of a family. The topic of responsibilities for dog and cat owners is discussed and the by-laws are mentioned for those that do not conform to these responsibilities.
Dogs and Humans
The history of man's relationships with dogs is introduced. Breeds of dogs and the uses of these breeds is outlined. The uses of dogs by man in everyday life are also discussed. Coloured transparencies are used to demonstrate these topics. Proper care of a dog is also reviewed.
Cats and Humans
The history of man's relationships with the cat is introduced. Common habits and care of the cat are outlined. Breeds of cats are described and the importance of cats In the everyday lives of humans is discussed. The amazing capabilities of cats are described, with examples given. A live cat is often taken to the class, on harness, for students to enjoy.
Food chains are defined and described. Students are encouraged to give examples to emphasize the natural tendencies for wild animals to prey upon each other. The importance of leaving wild animals alone is re-emphasized and different methods of improving the environment are examined.
The reasons for animals becoming endangered are examined. Students are asked to consider ways to help the endangered animals. A list of endangered species in Canada is provided, along with the habitats and the reasons for being endangered.
The unfortunate destinies of many performing animals is outlined. With the use of the video "Inside the Bigtop", harsh training methods and severe living conditions of circus animals is discussed. Marine mammals, such as dolphins are examined, as to how they cope or fail to cope in captivity. This topic is mainly for Secondary Students.
NOTE: Students are also made aware of the role of the Humane Society in the Community and are given ample time to ask any questions, which they may have, relating to any of the topics presented. In some cases, two or three topics may be combined and other games and activities can be used for added interest and enthusiasm.