"Why is humane education needed? We
never needed it before…."
We have spent almost twenty years listening to thousands of adults
explain why they had to get rid of their ‘beloved’ pets: "They no
longer match the interior of my living room," “she gained too much
weight and we don't want a fat dog,” “it's not housebroken”, “it
barks”. In almost every case, the “owner” of the pet is the one at
fault. Many people simply begin by adopting the wrong type of pet
for the family and lifestyle they have. Some people will spend more
time researching a new automobile than examining the attributes of
the living soul with which they plan to spend the next 15 years. Yet
few will consider taking home a mixed breed. Everyone wants a
designer pet, and everyone wants a puppy or so they can “train it to
be like we want it to be". Too often, they lose patience, give up
and take the poor creature to the pound. See
We accept the fact that sometimes one must part with a pet for
reasons more legitimate than a change in household décor. Still, it
is appalling that most pet owners don’t know how to give up a pet
responsibly, and that they think the pound is the only option. Even
worse, they think it is an entirely acceptable solution. Many
believe their pets will find new homes at the pound. And many also
believe that a “good home” is anyone with a backyard, a smile and a
promise to love the animal – no background check or agreement
necessary. We, of course, no better – and so should they! See
As disheartening as it is to acknowledge that adult Americans are
currently responsible for the abuse, overpopulation and subsequent
euthanasia of millions of animals each year, we stand firm in our
belief that if they understood the consequences of their actions, or
knew how simple and easy it is to do the right thing, most of them
would do it. Nobody has a litter of puppies or kittens just so they
can be abused or later put to sleep. The problem is ignorance and
apathy, not deliberate cruelty or lack of empathy. This is good
news, because ignorance and apathy are easily overcome with a little
We adults simply never had an opportunity to participate in a humane
education program. We learned societal responsibility informally,
from our parents at the dinner table. Now that our families are more
pseudo-assembled than ever, the topic of how best to care for Spot
and Muffy is often lost in the shuffle, with very dire consequences.
Yet what used to be simple…still is. We just need to begin where we
left off - with the kids.
21st Century C.A.R.E.S. delivers humane education programs to
children of all ages. The presentation is usually given at the
children’s schools, but it is also possible to have groups or
individuals visit the sanctuary and participate in the program
In addition to delivering presentations, the organization helps
others establish humane education clubs in their areas, and trains
Our school presentations are tailored to suit the age(s) of the
attendees. When possible, we work with the teachers ahead of time to
determine which topics to address and how deeply to explore them.
The topics for discussion and suggestions listed below are quite
broad. Some are more applicable for younger children and some for
teenagers. Personally, I would not even consider giving one of these
without being accompanied by my five dogs. MOST schools tell me
they can't allow them, yet, as I approach the front door with the
five dogs on leash and wearing bow ties, I've been greeted with huge
smiles, a welcoming hand shake and a personal escort to the
appropriate location to give the presentation - receiving large
amounts of favorable attention all along the way. For more details
of the actual presentation, see these two pages:
The program usually lasts about 45 minutes, depending on the length
of the question and answer session at the end. A separate discussion
of the possible formation of a local humane education club or the
launching of another community-based organization can follow this
short program and may last about an hour. It could also take place
at another time and place with an adult advisor, so the participants
don’t miss additional class time. That adult advisor would, of
course, be able to call on us for support. See
Discussion Topics For the
complete listing of humane education topics in full see
www.21stcenturycares.org/he/humaneed.htm divided into various
1. The benefits of community involvement: how not to stand idly
by and allow abuse, neglect or perpetual ignorance; how to spread
the word throughout the community.and to recognize the potential
that everyone has to actually make the necessary changes to prevent
an epidemic of apathy
2. The need for everyone with a pet to have some form of access
to proper training and guidance.
3. The importance of becoming the 'guardian' of the proper pet
for you, your family and your lifestyle.
4. The problem of overpopulation: why not to let your pets have
puppies or kittens; the need for timely spaying/neutering.
5. The importance of providing the appropriate things for your
pet , not the things your ego decides are best for it.
6. How to help senior citizens and low income families by
providing occasional vet trips or a few bags of dog food so their
pets don’t have to be relinquished unnecessarily.
7. The benefits of adopting an adult dog from the dog pound as
opposed to assuming the tremendous responsibility of raising a
8. The proven benefits of providing indoor sleeping arrangements
9. The true definition of “guard dog” and the problems that arise
when a pet is expected to perform duties for which it is not trained
10. Why to consider adopting a second compatible dog or cat as a
companion for the first one.
11. The absolute necessity of licensing and having proper
identification on your pet at all times.
12. The proven links between animal abuse and future adult
13. How to give up a pet if it is really necessary and why not to
unless there really is no other way!
Suggested Projects For Those Interested
(with much more detailed information and assistance from 21st
Century Cares, of course):
14. Form a permanent humane education club for the school.See
15. Prepare a program for visiting other local schools to share
this information and help others form humane education clubs in
16. Bring in other speakers like vets, dog trainers, animal
control officers and people from local humane organizations to share
their work and ideas and specific issues with the students.
17. Offer training tips and other assistance to senior citizens
and low-income families and their pets.
18. Promote the proper identification for all pets either through
collar tags or micro-chipping.
19. Arrange an off-site adoption program for those pets who face
certain death at a local facility.
20. Open a dog park where pets and guardians can meet, run and
play with each other in a secure area.
21. Write articles or otherwise gain coverage in the school
newspaper about animal welfare issues.
22. Start letter-writing campaigns, neighborhood “reach” programs
and other efforts to help the community better care for their pets.
23. Making sure that everyone knows the importance
of voting the issues and for candidates who share similar views -
and to holld them to it. See