"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 www.21stcenturycares.org/importance.htm

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 www.21stcenturycares.org/intro2.htm

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 education.  www.21stcenturycares.org/americasabuse.htm

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 there.

In addition to delivering presentations, the organization helps others establish humane education clubs in their areas, and trains humane educators.

Our Presentation:

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: www.21stcenturycares.org/edpresentation.htm and www.21stcenturycares.org/spayn.htm

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 www.21stcenturycares.org/midwesttour.htm

Discussion Topics    For the complete listing of humane education topics in full see www.21stcenturycares.org/he/humaneed.htm   divided into various categories.
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 www.21stcenturycares.org/potential.htm
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. www.21stcenturycares.org/guardian.htm  
4.    The problem of overpopulation: why not to let your pets have puppies or kittens; the need for timely spaying/neutering.  www.21stcenturycares.org/spayn.htm
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. www.21stcenturycares.org/seniors.htm and www.21stcenturycares.org/landtenn.htm and www.21stcenturycares.org/renters.htm
7.    The benefits of adopting an adult dog from the dog pound as opposed to assuming the tremendous responsibility of raising a puppy. www.21stcenturycares.org/yournextpet.htm
8.    The proven benefits of providing indoor sleeping arrangements for pets. www.21stcenturycares.org/inorout.htm
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 or well-suited.
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 criminal activity.   www.21stcenturycares.org/links.htm
13.    How to give up a pet if it is really necessary and why not to unless there really is no other way!  www.21stcenturycares.org/freetohomes.htm

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 www.21stcenturycares.org/formingclubs.htm
15.    Prepare a program for visiting other local schools to share this information and help others form humane education clubs in their schools.
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 www.21stcenturycares.org/voting.htm