We have two dogs and two cats. They are an integral part of our family. For this reason, it breaks my heart when I see people mistreating animals. If children were taught to treat animals kindly, perhaps they would grow up to be adults who displayed empathy for furry friends. As a parent and animal-lover, I’m doing my best to teach my kids to have compassion for animals.
Encourage Kids to Help Take Care of Animals
At our house, we have several “special needs” animals who need a little extra care. Both of my kids like to help. Thus, sometimes they help pour the animals’ food in their dishes (remember to wash their hands afterwards). Or they might help hold the leash when we go on a walk. Having your kids help groom or give water to your animals are great ways for them to get involved. However, remember that animals are animals; for this reason, it’s important to monitor child-pet interactions at all times.
Volunteer with Animals
There are so many animals at the shelters. They need our help. Not everyone can have pets. However, there are still plenty of ways to volunteer. Paws is a wonderful organization that has special ways for kids to volunteer. Children can organize a drive for toys, food and other pet supplies. Kids who are 18 years of age and older can volunteer with the animals or your entire family can foster an animal.
Talk to Kids About Being Kind to Animals
I have seen kids shoot paintballs at dogs. It saddens me that they find hurting animals to be a fun, recreational activity. Even if you don’t have animals, you can read books that teach kids to act compassionately towards animals. In addition, young children may need verbal reminders to be gentle. My toddler can play rough but I constantly remind him to “be nice” to our cats and dogs.
Be Aware of What you are Supporting
I hate to be a party pooper. However, some “kid-friendly” activities support animal cruelty. It’s pretty well-known that circuses are cruel to animals. Yet, even pony rides can be harmful. According to PETA, ponies can suffer from hoof ailments and are often left sore and chafed from ill-fitting equipment. For years, we had a pass to a popular marine life amusement park. The kids really enjoyed it and so did I. However, when it was time to renew this year, my husband did a little research before saying yes to passes for Christmas gifts. He learned that many of the marine animals were treated badly. Thus, we “passed” on the passes. Although animal attractions are fun, I didn’t like the idea of supporting cruelty.
Animals are easy to love. Like anything, kids need guidance to show them the right way to treat animals.
More from Melissa:
Pets and Children: Do’s and Don’ts
How Safe is Your Canine’s Dog Treat?
Canine Amputation: Life with a Three-Legged Dog