My son Stefin and I went to the public library on Saturday to check out a few books on bearded dragons. He has been asking to get one for his birthday. There was a dragon at the shelter that had come in as a stray. It was under treatment for being dehydrated and underweight. Stefin’s tenth birthday was around the corner, and I thought the time might be right to adopt one that needed a home. I told Stefin I would consider adopting the bearded dragon if, and only if, he did the research on its needs. The next few hours were spent watching videos and checking out books on lizard care. More to come on the adoption of Einstein in the future (yes, he named him even though he does not even have him yet!).
While we were at the library we noticed paper paw prints on the ground leading to a sign that said, “Come one, come all to the pet fair.” Curious what this was about, we asked the librarian. She shared that it was an event being put on by a local Girl Scout Troop. The pet fair was just starting so we decided to head in.
“Look, Mom,” my son said as he was tugging on my shirt. “This is a Kids for Animals event. They are helping to support the animals at the shelter.” Kids for Animals is a community engagement program for kids of all ages to get involved and learn about animals. It encompasses children’s classes and programs at the shelter like Critter Camp, a week-long summer camp for kids ages 8-12, as well as activities children can do at home and in the community. I smiled as I looked around. It was clear that this group of girls had read the Kids for Animals handbook and were proactively working to make a difference.
The girls had really thought out what they wanted visitors to do and learn. As soon as you entered, you were given a passport to get signed at each of the four stations. If you went to all of them you would get a prize. One station was a puppet show about staying safe around wild animals when you go for a walk. Another was bingo where you were asked questions about the animal shelter. There was a quiz on wild animal habitats. One was an interactive game on animal care. Later, the Girl Scouts were making pet toys to donate to the shelter. I was very impressed with how much work they put into their event. As we left, I knew that their event was going to help a lot of other kids learn about animals, how to be safe around them, and ways they can get involved. Those Scouts really earned their pet care badge that day!
The Kids for Animals program has many goals. It’s about teaching kids the connection between humans and animals. It’s about instilling empathy, kindness, understanding and respect towards animals and the environment. It’s about giving young people tools to have a voice to make a difference in their community. It encourages volunteerism. It helps kids read, write, and critically think by giving them something they are interested in as a catalyst for their learning. It encourages friendships with other kids who have similar interests.
The Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA is offering many Kids for Animals activities this summer. Attend an Animal Adventurers workshop on a weekend or Critter Camp during the week. Sign your group up to come for a tour or ask for a presentation to come to you. You and your child can sign up for a shelter-based volunteer activity during one of our Sunday Helpers programs or at the Wiggle Waggle Walk coming up in the fall. There are many ways to get involved. To learn more about the Kids for Animals program, download the booklet or register for an event at pasadenahumane.org.