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Investing in Humane Education

Children are the future—and the future of our communities’ animals

“Lightbulb moments.” “Planting seeds.” These are expressions humane educators often use to describe their work, explain its rewards, and capture the essence of their commitment to the education of children as a vital component of the solution to animal homelessness, neglect, and cruelty.

  • Humane educators have a chance to reach kids with multiple animal-friendly messages, including the one about shelter adoptions. Sisters Karla and Teresa McNiece found Biggles at a cat adopt-a-thon in Florida. Branaman Photography

They think of moments like the one Carol Everett, a certified humane education specialist who volunteers at the Kauai Humane Society, recalls: A middle school student came up to her after a presentation on puppy mills, a spay/neuter activity, and a tour of an animal shelter and said, “We got a puppy from the pet shop last year and I am so sorry we didn’t get one from the humane society.” Carol told her, “Don’t be sorry. Love your puppy as much as you can. You will have many more opportunities in your life to get another dog here when the timing is right.”

Jennifer Self-Aulgur, humane education coordinator for the Humane Society of West Michigan, regularly presents programs at a juvenile detention center, where more than 60 percent of the youth have seen a dogfight. During a program she presented on dogfighting, one youth was initially combative, insisting there was nothing wrong with dogfighting and saying, “They’re just dogs.” A few weeks later, after he’d gone through more of Self-Aulgur’s program, the youth revealed during a counseling session that he had thought about the issue and realized how wrong dogfighting is. He was actually in tears because he felt bad about how he and his family had treated animals.

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