The best way to address the pet homeless issue is to start educating our children. They are our future and by creating programs and events that are educational and fun – they can learn how to improve the world for animals.
We know that there is an issue with shelters being overwhelmed and the sad reality is – many homeless pets may never get a chance to be in a loving home again.
We can – and need to change this! The best place to start with that change? Our next generation!
Teaching our children how to be good pet owners and helping them understand why the choices they make when it comes to our furry friends matters can be instrumental in the future. Imagine a world where every dog and cat find their forever home!
Below are some great ideas for events and activities that are both fun – and educational and will help build a relationship between animal shelters and their local communities.
Teddy Bear Clinic
This idea comes from my friend Jodi at Kol’s Notes and I absolutely love it – and know kids of all ages will too. Be sure to visit her website to get all the details about this event, what I have below is just a summary!
Invite children to your shelter, tell them about what you do and give them a grand tour. Use this time to explain why the animals are in the shelter and how we can all work together to help stop animals from winding up in shelters.
Invite them to also bring their favorite stuffed animal for a full vet checkup and grooming appointment. When they arrive for their appointment – having several “stations” setup to give the kids the full experience is a fun way to keep them engaged and help them learn how to care for their pet.
Some station ideas include:
- Registration area – let them fill out forms and sign in for their appointment
- Id tag station where kids can color and create an ID tag for their pet while waiting to visit the vet or groomer
- Vet station where the kids can enjoy watching their pet get a full checkup and find out if their pet is healthy and happy
- Groomers station will of course including a brushing – and maybe a “bath” where kids can make believe they are giving their pets all they need to be fresh and clean
- Finally, a photo station where the kids can enjoy a selfie with their best friend
The Downloadable Resources
Jodi created an amazing collection of printables for this event that you can download for free! So if you are looking to create a Teddy Bear Clinic – then head on over there to download what you need. Below are the available downloads.
- Teddy Bear Clinic Poster
- Registration Form
- Small and Large Collar Template
- Health Certificate
- Clinic Labels
Not only is this a great educational event – it is also a good marketing event. All the printables can be edited to add your logo in Adobe Acrobat. So when parents share the images from the event on social media – you know your brand is getting out there and you will be know as the shelter that cares!
Another way to host this event is as a fundraiser – charge a nominal fee for each child or see if you can find a corporate sponsor to donate some stuffed animals for your event.
Create A Club
Another creative idea is to start a club that focuses on helping kids learn more about how to treat animals humanely.
The Toledo Area Humane Society created the “C.H.A.T” club which stands for “Children for Humane Animal Treatment”. The education coordinator wanted kids to be able to walk away from the club not only learning about respecting and caring for animals, but also enjoying their time with them at the shelter.
It can be run as an after school program or on the weekends and can be for as long as you would like it to be.
Some of the ideas to implement include:
- Play animal related games
- Create an identify a breed contest
- Sing animal songs
- Read to the animals
- Shelter tours
- Let them wash and fill bowls to learn pet care
- Create a pet care “budget” worksheet
- Play our cat matching memory game – you can download the game for free
Another great reason to do this that you can be grooming your next generation of volunteers too! By allowing them to get to know you and have a place where they feel comfortable will make the choice to volunteer when they are of proper age that much easier.
Creating a read-a-book program at your shelter is a great way to engage children and provide some comfort to the dogs in your care.
This is a great program because it allows the children to see the impact they can make on comforting a dog just through the sound of their voice. It also lets them improve their reading and confidence skills – but shhh don’t tell them that!
Want to get a little more creative with your dog reading program?
- Create certificates that each child can get after reading to the dogs a certain amount of times. If they do 5 readings over 5 weeks – a certificate of their achievement will do wonders for their confidence and may encourage them to continue on!
- You can also create a “read to the dogs” competition for a more fun and community based event. See if you can get a local sponsor to give a kid-friendly prize and have the kids compete to see who can read to the most dogs. This is a great way to build some community engagement and get some social media outreach as parents and kids share their goals and successes.
Photo Art Project
Have a photographer come take pictures of the animals in your care. Reach out to a local elementary school and offer to work with the class to help educate them about the issues homeless animals face.
Bring actual pictures of the animals that the photographer took and ask the kids to do an art project around it using what they learned from your talk.
Then – you can host an “art show” for the kids at your facility which would help bring some exposure to the animals! If you do not have a facility ask if it can be held at the school.
The kids can sell their art, some baked goods and other things to help raise money for the rescue.