I feel that I’m preaching to the choir about animal welfare issues with this blog and my book’s Facebook page. We’re doing a great job of talking to each other but we’re not the audience that needs to be reached! I had the opportunity recently to speak to a large group of college kids. Now that’s where we need to be! This age group is engaged in the world and poised to make a difference.
I spoke with them about the issues of animal overpopulation, in particular, the stray cat problem and the need for spay and neuter, and the indiscriminate breeding of Pit Bulls who all too often end up in shelters. Of course, we discussed puppy mills. They were unaware that most puppies sold over the Internet come from puppy mills. And a few still didn’t know that most pet stores are supplied by puppy mills.
I was thrilled to hear that these young adults were anxious to help the animal shelters – by volunteering at the facilities or by organizing fundraisers. But I was surprised to learn that so many of them believe that the large national humane organizations such as the HSUS, Best Friends, and the ASPCA oversee and provide funding to local animal shelters. In reality, these organizations have no affiliation with any local animal shelters. It’s not the first time I’ve heard this. Many people hear “humane society” and they think that they are all part of the larger HSUS. Not so. I encouraged my audience to support their local shelters because most of them depend on donations and are hurting badly with this economy.
Reaching college-age kids with humane education is important because many of them are on the brink of becoming pet owners. But it’s also very urgent that we reach younger kids, as their belief systems are forming. It’s easy to assume that everyone thinks just like I do, treating my pets like family members with a lifetime commitment. Unfortunately, not everyone feels this way. Pets are not always loved and often are considered disposable. These attitudes are established at an early age, usually from family members and friends. If we can educate children when they are still impressionable, we stand a good chance of making an impact.
In 2008, I was asked to co-produce a documentary called Uncaged: Second Chances for Puppy Mill Breeder Dogs. I am happy to announce that the filmmaker and I have created a study guide to go along with the film. The Educator’s Edition includes a study guide with core and supplemental questions and activities, Internet resources, plus a DVD of the 25 minute movie, recommended for ages 11 and older. The cost is $20 and it’s available for purchase on my web site under the Videos tab.
I hope that anyone who has children or has the opportunity to educate them will purchase a copy and spread the word!