Bringing more pets to more classrooms
As I’ve also said, it wouldn’t hurt to put one, or two, or three, in every prison, every facility for the elderly, every homeless shelter, every domestic abuse shelter, and any other place — from institution to group home to halfway house – where there are people who have lost hope, never learned empathy, aren’t feeling loved, need some friendship or could otherwise benefit from the curative power of dogs.
Of course, things don’t happen that quickly, or on that kind of scale. Obstacles get in the way, like bureaucracies, and liability concerns and the erroneous belief that only trained therapy dogs can provide therapy.
Considering that, a Washington DC-based non-profit organization is thinking pretty big: Within the next five years, the Pet Care Trust hopes to reach a point where it has introduced 5 million children in 100,000 classrooms to pets and the benefits they provide.
The new goal for the teacher grant program comes after the much quicker-than-anticipated growth of the program in the last couple of years.
In the 2010-11 school year, the Pet Care Trust provided 3,200 Pets in the Classroom grants. With support from Petsmart and Petco, along with rebate grants supported by independent pet stores, the number of grants increased to more than 6,000 for the 2011-12 school year. In the next five years, the trust plans to have provided 30,000 grants enabling teachers to bring pets into the classroom.
The goal of the Pet Care Trust — its board is made up mostly of representatives from the pet products industry, we should point out — is to help promote public understanding of the value of companion animals, to enhance knowledge about companion animals through research and education, and to promote professionalism among members of the companion animal community.
Pet Care Trust executive director Steve King says the Pets in the Classroom program, established in 1990, is already halfway to the new goal.
“We have reached the half-way point to this goal far sooner than any of us thought possible. It really is a remarkable achievement thanks to the Board’s foresight and the support of so many pet retailers and suppliers.”
More than 500,000 elementary and middle school students having already been given the opportunity to interact with pets on a daily basis in their classroom. and with more than 6,800 grants issued since August 1, the total since the program’s inception has risen to 15,500.
At the beginning of 2012, the program — initially available only to pre-k through 6th grade teachers — expanded to include 7th and 8th grade classrooms,
The Pets in the Classroom program benefits students by teaching them responsible, long-term pet care at an early age and providing the psychological and developmental benefits associated with the human-animal bond.
Studies have shown that caring for pets has a positive effect on children, improving school attendance and teaching children responsibility, as well as encouraging nurturing and building self esteem.
To learn more about the Pets in the Classroom grant program, visit www.petsintheclassroom.org.
(Photo: Ace, though it was done without a grant, visits a Baltimore school)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 29th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, compassion, dogs, elementary, empathy, grants, junior high, pet care trust, petco, pets, pets in the classroom, petsmart, responsibility, schools, self esteem, students, teachers