The Official Houston SPCA Humane Education Blog

Teaching us about our animal friends


The Houston SPCA is heading back to school!

The heat of summer may be sticking around but all of the kids in Houston are headed back to school – and so is the Houston SPCA!

School webpage graphic

The Houston SPCA’s Community Education School Program focuses on teaching children the importance of empathy, kindness, compassion and caring for others while integrating necessary grade level state standards into each lesson plan created for the classroom. We also provide a broader scope of careers for students by relating many animal welfare working opportunities to them through our community education presentations. We frequently participate in school-wide events such as career days, health and safety fairs, environmental fairs and other community-related programs.

Storybook Reading Sessions:

For pre-K – 1st graders, we offer storybook reading sessions. Teachers can pick from our list of children’s books which includes stories about animals being rescued, how to interact with animals you just met and why animal shelters are important. Storybook reading sessions are between 20-30 minutes and can fit into any part of a teacher’s schedule.

Our current storybook collection for the classroom includes:

“Max Talks to Me” – Claire Buchwald.

Alex and his dog, Max, are true friends – the kind that share each other’s excitement, comfort each other when they are sad, wait together when parents are away, and have fun wherever they are. Alex is learning that every good relationship is a mutual one.

“Kamie Cat’s Terrible Night” – Sheila Hamanaka.

Oh no! Someone forgets to put the screen back and Kamie jumps out the window. During her misadventure, Kamie gets a glimpse of how other cats live and comes to appreciate life with kind Mr. Wong.

“Call the Horse Lucky” – Juanita Havill.

While visiting her grandmother in the country, Mel discovers a neglected horse. Moved by the sight of the rib-thin pinto, Mel starts a rescue process that results in the pinto’s being moved to a horse rescue ranch.

“May I Pet Your Dog?” – Stephanie Calmenson.

What’s the best way to meet a dog and make friends? In this book, a dachshund named Harry shows you. Harry’s advice begins with one simple rule: Always ask the owner, “May I pet your dog?”

“Buddy Unchained” – Daisy Bix.

Buddy, a lovable mixed-breed dog, is happy in a new home; he tells the story of his former life and how he was rescued and came to live with a caring family.

“KokoCat, Inside and Out” – Lynda Graham-Barber.

KokoCat, a well-loved house cat, has seen the world only from the safety of her window perch. One day, she takes advantage of an open door and runs away to explore. Once outside, she finds that life is more complicated and less enjoyable than she bargained for.

School Wide Assembly Presentations:

School-wide assemblies are best for multiple age groups and range in length from 45 minutes to 1 hour. Each presentation gives an inside look into the services the Houston SPCA offers the community.

Topics include:

“Career Day: Working with Animals” 

This program focuses on introducing students to the world of animal care and welfare. Students will learn about numerous animal-related careers, how those careers benefit animals, and what qualifications are needed for those positions.

“Animals Get Bullied, Too: There’s No Excuse for Abuse” 

This program introduces the concept of animal cruelty to students and how it relates to bullying between peers. Focusing on empathy and compassion, students will learn what animal cruelty is, what to do if they see an animal being mistreated, and how to spread the word about proper treatment of animals.

“What Are Animals Trying to Tell Us? A Look at Animal Behavior” 

This program describes what animal behavior is, how animals can communicate with each other and humans, and what to do in a variety of scenarios with animals you have just met. Students will learn the differences between animals that are safe to interact with and those that should be left alone.

“Houston SPCA at a Glance: How the Houston SPCA Helps Animals”

This program gives an overview of the Houston SPCA’s mission and services it provides to the Houston community. Students will learn how and why animals are brought to the Houston SPCA, why adopting an animal from a shelter is so important, as well as how they can help our animals from home!

In-Classroom Presentations:

In-classroom presentations are between 45 minutes to 1 hour and include full lesson plans for the teacher to use with their students. We have a variety of lessons available for 2nd – 12th grade that are either single-session lessons or project-based learning lessons.

Project-based learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem, or challenge. Students are given the opportunity to solve a real-world problem through extended research and solution-creating projects. Allowing students to learn through action increases the retention rate of taught information. Each PBL style program provided by the Houston SPCA has lesson plans for multiple sessions and a student project with grading rubrics available.

For the Houston SPCA’s full school program curriculum, please click here.

To book your presentation, please e-mail or call our Community Education department (713-869-7722 ext. 143) today.

To support the Houston SPCA’s mission of promoting commitment to and respect for all animals, please click here.

 

Advertisements


2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for us! We have grown over the past year and hope to keep growing as we continue our mission of humane education.

Have a great 2015 and Happy New Year!

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,100 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Avoiding the Back to School Blues – Pet Separation Anxiety

It is that time of year again when backpacks are packed, pencils are sharpened and lunches are ready to go! As students head into a brand new school year, let’s remember that you may still have some furry friends at home who will need your attention.

During the summer months, students who are able to stay at home with their pets can give them lots of love and attention. However, when those students go back to school, their pets may feel some separation anxiety or loneliness.

Some signs that your pet may be feeling a bit anxious or lonely include:

Excessive barking or meowing

Chewing or destructive behavior

Guilty dog chewing woman's shoes

Pacing 

Trying to escape from their home

Urinating or defecating inside the house (outside of the litter box!)

If your pet starts showing signs of separation anxiety, make sure to take them to your veterinarian! Your veterinarian will check to see if there are other issues that would be causing these behaviors.

To help your pets avoid the ‘back to school’ blues, here are a few tips to keep them happy and occupied:

Mental Stimulation

Cat Scratch DJ on Make A Gif

Keeping your pet mentally stimulated throughout the day is one of the best ways to overcome separation anxiety. For cats, cat trees, scratching posts and puzzle feeders with delicious goodies are great ways to keep busy. For dogs, there are many toys that will help keep them busy all day long. My favorite is the PetSafe Busy Buddy Squirrel Dude. I fill the Squirrel Dude with part of my dog’s diet (don’t want them getting too many extra treats!) and some peanut butter. I freeze this combination overnight then give the Squirrel Dude to my dog during the day. It takes a long time for the inside to thaw out and keeps my pup happy for hours. The more your pets are focused on puzzles and toys, the less they are focused on you being out of the house.

Reward Positive Behaviors

cute dog gif

When training your pets (Yes, you can train cats!), you always want to reward your pet for the behaviors you want them to learn. Try to avoid rewarding your cat or dog with attention or treats when they meow or bark at you. Instead, reward them when they are quiet and calm or have found something to keep themselves busy. More interactive training can be beneficial as well. Helping your pets learn how to ‘sit,’ ‘stay’ or ‘lay down’ can help when you are leaving for the day. Training with your pets every day helps to stimulate their minds and moves them toward being more confident in themselves.

Play with Your Pet Every Day

golden retriever life is good gif

One of the best parts of having a pet is getting to play with them! So why not play with them every day for at least 30 minutes? Everyone in the family will enjoying designated play time – your pets will have fun, your family will de-stress and everyone will bond a bit more with each other.

Exercise

Another way to help your pet be a little bit calmer while you are away is to make sure they have exercised before you leave. Taking your dog on a 30 minute walk each day before you head to school, or playing laser-tag with your cat for a while, will help them spend some of the energy they may have put toward being anxious on exercising. Exercising each day will also help keep their weight in check!

Do not Make a Big Deal Out of Leaving

If you think your dog or cat is going to be anxious after you leave for the day, try not to make the goodbye process too long. Animals can sense our emotions and the more upset you are about leaving them at home, the more upset your pets may become when you actually leave. Keep your goodbyes casual and your pet will be less worried about you being gone.

Doggie Daycare and Dog Walkers

Another option for your pet to help with anxiety is to not leave them at home – book them with your local doggie daycare! You can leave your dog in the capable hands of a doggie daycare where the staff will play with your dog, help them socialize with other dogs and feed them if needed. Another option is hiring a dog walker to come to your home and walk your dog once or twice a day. This will help your dog get some much needed exercise which can help reduce stress and anxiety.

Now your family is ready to keep your pet happy and busy all day long!

You aren’t the only ones going back to school this August – the Houston SPCA’s School Program is back in full swing with many brand new sessions available to Houston area schools. Sign-up today to enjoy a free presentation at your school from our Humane Education Instructor. For more information about the Houston SPCA visiting your school, please visit www.HoustonSPCA.org!


Animals adopted from the Houston SPCA helping students!

We just received an update from the KIPP Houston High School Art School about their recently added staff member to their faculty – an adorable bunny rabbit named Mr. Adams!

Mr. Adams was adopted from the Houston SPCA about a year ago to help the students learn about caring for animals responsibly and to have a fun friend in the classroom.

mr adams team captain

Here is an update from their art school teacher, Rebekah Tee:

“Mr. Adams has become a leader at school. He was captain of Onyx (because he has black spots) to earn points at the pumpkin carving contest for his team. Although, some teams were suspicious of his intentions (he started the “carving” early this morning while the pumpkins were on the floor).  As you can see, this bunny is beyond spoiled. He gets fresh veggies every day from staff and students and tons of freedom and love. Now, several students want to adopt a bunny and avoid breeders because there are so many unwanted animals at SPCA.

Seriously, your adopted bunny is quite famous. Thank you!!!”

Team captain supervising

We absolutely love that this classroom has decided to choose the adoption option for a class pet. Having a class pet can help students focus on their studies, open up to someone about issues they may not be comfortable talking about with teachers or friends, and just be there to be a friend when you need it. If you or a teacher you know wants to adopt a pet for their classroom, you can always check out the Houston SPCA to see if we have a furry friend for your students!

Thank you KIPP Houston High School for choosing the Houston SPCA!


Thank you Herrera Elementary and Nottingham Elementary!!

Today I want to give special thanks to a couple of amazing Houston-area elementary schools!

The Houston SPCA would like to thank the Herrera Elementary Green Goat after school program for their fantastic fundraising efforts and their donation of approximately $300 to the Houston SPCA!

From their teachers:

“The students planned and organized the fundraiser themselves. They learned a little bit about the Houston SPCA during their after school program and they had questions about what the animals need and how we could help them.

 The students created flyers and posters to hang around the school advertising a bake sale, and describing what the funds were going to. The students convinced their parents to donate baked goods (either homemade or store bought). After school, the kids sold baked goods all around the school campus. The parents had brought in so much food that we were able to sell for two days instead of just one as we had originally planned.

 The kids were really excited about raising so much money knowing that it would help the animals in need.”

The Herrera Elementary Green Goat after school program is brand new, beginning in September of this year. They focus on environmental and community issues. This is a wonderful group of kids and we appreciate them so much!

Thank you again, Herrera Elementary Green Goat program!

Herrera Elem

The Houston SPCA would also like to thank Nottingham Elementary school for their awesome donation to the Houston SPCA!

As part of their ‘Acts of Kindness Week,’ Nottingham Elementary had a wish-list drive throughout their entire school and donated two full cart loads of in-kind items such as newspapers, toys, treats, beds, and food. We are so proud of their efforts to help give our animals a second chance at life.

We cannot express how much we appreciate the efforts of the children at Nottingham Elementary school! Thank you!!

Nottingham Elementary 1Nottingham Elementary 2

Would you like to contribute to their efforts? Donate now at www.HoustonSPCA.org !

Want to start a donation drive at your school? Check out our wish-list of all the items our shelter needs:

http://hspca.convio.net/site/PageServer?pagename=donate_wish


Thank You Trinity Lutheran School Downtown 2nd Grade Class!

The Houston SPCA would like to thank the Trinity Lutheran School Downtown 2nd grade class for visiting our shelter. We are so proud to see so many students excited about learning how to take care of their pets!

For the past three weeks our humane education department has visited the 2nd grade class to teach them about the needs of living things, how to take care of pets, and how much pets cost through the Pets 101: Care and Ownership program.

In the final portion of this program the class had the opportunity to take a tour of the Houston SPCA shelter and present their Pet Care Project posters. Students chose any animals they wanted as a pet and created a poster listing 10 steps to taking care of that pet. You can see the posters below – don’t they look great!

0929 wm

0930 wm

0931 wm

If you are interested in participating in this program or any of the other educational programs the Houston SPCA offers please take a look at our brand new curriculum guide: http://hspca.convio.net/site/DocServer/Houston_SPCA_Humane_Education_Curriculum_Guide_2013-2014.pdf?docID=3281

You can contact the humane education department by e-mailing education@houstonspca.org or calling 713-869-7722 ext. 143.