Teaching children to treat animals with respect can turn into a
valuable lesson about compassion and caring. Whether you're a pet owner
or not, talk about animals when you visit an animal shelter or walk
through your local park. What might scare them? What are their needs?
For some firsthand experience, you might volunteer with animals-either
formally at the local shelter, or by helping out your elderly neighbor
with pet care. Or, if your family is ready for an even bigger
commitment, read on!
Jenny Friedman, Executive Director
||Nurture an Animal that needs a Home
Make a Difference...
Can't get enough cuddling and petting in your day? You may want to
consider becoming foster parents for animals. Your family would provide
a temporary (a few days to a few months) home for animals that require
special attention because they are very young, sick, or because the
shelter has limited space. This job requires time, energy and patience,
but the rewards are enormous (read our Family Story ). Be sure to ask
which supplies and services (food, vet care, etc.) the shelter provides
and which you will need to contribute. And always remember to supervise
interactions between foster animals and young children. Call your local
shelter to learn more about this rewarding activity.
Photo: Pets 911
||Share the World
Talk About It...
Teaching children about kindness to animals can help develop empathy.
It can encourage kids to think about another living being's feelings
and to consider the effects of their actions. Here are ideas from Share
the World, a program that educates children to better understand
Talk about the importance of showing respect for all living
creatures. Speak out when you see animal cruelty.
Share with your children some of the amazing characteristics
that animals possess. For some fun facts, visit the
National Geographic Kids
Discuss the many wordless ways animals show their feelings -
pain, hunger, excitement, loneliness. Ask your children how those
emotions and responses are similar to their own.
Learn About It...
the World offers a sweet video
with fascinating footage of animals in the wild, from
beavers to snow monkeys. The video emphasizes what these creatures have
in common with us, but also the complex characteristics that surpass
our human abilities. The video is available to watch free online with
Photo: National Geographic Kids
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be
judged by the way its animals are treated.
||Family Story- Furry, Feathery Foster Friends
When the family dog died, the Laurence family went to the
Animal Humane Society in search of a new pet. You might say they found
several. In the last nine years, Judi and Roger Laurence and their
three daughters have been a volunteer foster family to some 300
animals, including birds, rabbits, guinea pigs and rats. (This past
April, the now-teenage daughters Robin, Diane and Cara had their hands
full caring for three mother rats with their 30 babies.)
Typically, the Laurences' main responsibility is to handle
and cuddle the animals frequently so they may become well-socialized
pets for families that eventually adopt them. In addition, they help
care for mother and baby animals from gestation to delivery. Besides
great fun, this may also involve hand-feeding the babies. Multiple
times, Judi and the girls have taken turns nursing new kittens every
two hours, even through the night. Similar dedication is required when
a foster animal is recovering from an illness.
Photo: The Laurence family
||News From DGT
DGT is now working with the St. Paul Pioneer Press to offer
weekly family volunteer opportunities through its new website for Twin
www.minnmoms.com. Check it out!