The Official Houston SPCA Humane Education Blog

Teaching us about our animal friends


Scout Programs are in full swing at the Houston SPCA

Scout Program Graphic

The Houston SPCA’s Scout Program offers scouts of all ages in the Houston area the opportunity to learn about animals and commit to helping animals at the Houston SPCA.

Looking for a tour?

We offer guided shelter tours to scout troops for free! Your troop can go on a tour of our shelter any day of the week – just schedule it with our Community Education department at least two weeks before you arrive. Booking for tours this fall has already started and weekends fill up fast. Please email or call the Community Education department (713-869-7722 ext. 143) to schedule your troop’s shelter tour today.

Calling all Cub and Boy Scouts!

Looking to earn that next belt-loop, pin or merit badge? If your answer is yes, the Houston SPCA can help you out!  For Boy Scouts who want to earn the Dog Care merit badge, the Houston SPCA is the perfect place to start. Book a tour for your troop and learn about responsible pet care, how the Houston SPCA helps animals in our community, and what types of careers the Houston SPCA offers in animal welfare. Cub scouts can fulfill many of the requirements for the Pet Care belt-loop and pin at the Houston SPCA including taking a tour of our animal shelter, scheduling a meet and greet with a veterinarian, and learning about how animals communicate with each other and humans.

Is your Girl Scout troop looking for their next fun patch? 

If you are a Girl Scout who loves animals and wants an exclusive patch for your sash or vest, this program is for you!

The Houston SPCA Paw Pals Patch Program focuses on teaching safety around stray animals with lessons adjusted to each troop’s age level. All Girl Scouts participating will receive a unique Houston SPCA Patch and a colorful Paw Print Patch for $3 per scout. Troop leaders can purchase patch sets for their scouts during the on-site portion of this program.

To receive the Houston SPCA Paw Pals Patch set, each scout must complete the activities in the appropriate troop leader’s guide (see below). As part of the Paw Pals Patch Program, each troop is required to visit to the Houston SPCA for a tour of our shelter.

Download your Leader’s Guide:  Daisy Level Requirements

Download your Leader’s Guide:  Brownie Level Requirements

Download your Leader’s Guide:  Junior Level Requirements

Download your Leader’s Guide:  Cadette-Senior Level Requirements

Is your troop ready to commit to the Houston SPCA? 

Looking for a service project to help you or your troop achieve your bronze award, silver award, gold award or Eagle Scout rank?  Click here to check out a list of pre-approved projects for the shelter and click here to fill out an application to get started! Would your troop like to hold a donation drive for the Houston SPCA? Be sure to see our wish list for the items we need most at our shelter.

To learn more about the Houston SPCA, check out our website – www.HoustonSPCA.org  today!

Advertisements


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.

 


Preparing Your Pets for Fourth of July Fireworks

Fourth of July weekend is here! Are you prepared to have a fun, safe holiday weekend with your pets? Here are five ways to keep your pets happy on this Independence Day weekend:

1. Keep your pet inside.

The easiest way to prevent your pets from getting lost this Independence Day is to keep them inside. If you are having a big party or just a small get-together with friends, make sure someone is always aware of where your pets are. If you know that your cat or dog likes to run out the door the first chance it gets, consider putting them into their kennel for the duration of the party or get-together.

2. Check your pet’s collar for accurate identification information.

Did you know that more pets get lost on the July 4th holiday than any other day of the year? Now is a great time to update your pet’s ID tags with accurate information. Include your name, your pet’s name and a current phone number on your pet’s ID tag. Even better, have your pet micro-chipped, which increases your chances of finding your pet if they become lost.

heat-safety-week3. Keep all alcoholic beverages away from your pets.

Independence day celebrations usually include the three B’s: BBQs, beach and booze. Keep alcoholic drinks out of reach from your pet at all times. Even a small amount of alcohol can do damage. If you suspect that your pet has ingested alcohol, call your vet immediately.

4. Keep all flammable objects away from your pets.

Charcoal from the BBQ pit. Sparklers for the kids. A fire to roast marshmallows. Keep your pets away from all types of open flames or heat sources, including BBQ pits, fire pits and even sparklers. Encourage your guests to play with your pets away from any flames.

5. Keep your pets distracted during the fireworks.

While fireworks can be fun to humans, these spectacles are just loud and sometimes scary noises to your pets. The best way to help your pets get through a night of fireworks is to distract them. Turn your television on low to help drown out any firework noise, and offer treats to help keep them busy, such as a squirrel dude stuffed with frozen pet-safe peanut butter. Give your cats a new toy to play with, or a new post to scratch.

From all of us at the Houston SPCA, we hope you have a fantastic Fourth of July weekend!

The information contained in this article is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any ailment or disease, and is provided for reference. Please consult with your veterinarian with questions or concerns related to heat safety.

Houston SPCA Summer Heat Safety Week

Founded in 1924, the Houston SPCA provides the most comprehensive array of animal adoption, shelter, rescue, rehabilitation and other programs and services in the Gulf Coast area. Check out all of our adoptable animals and consider the adoption option this summer.

Thank You for Supporting the Houston SPCA’s Mission – Make a Donation!


Summer’s here and so is the Houston SPCA’s Critter Camp!

Right about now the temperatures in Houston are rising and you know what that means – it’s time for Summer Critter Camp!

As the first week of Critter Camp comes to an end we thought we would take a look at all of the fun we had – check out all of the amazing activities we did below!

This session of Summer Critter Camp was in partnership with Easter Seals of Greater Houston – an organization that works with mentally and physically disabled children. Our partnership gives Easter Seals campers an opportunity to attend local summer camps that their parents might not feel comfortable sending them to without someone to help their camper out with all of the camp activities. During this special session of Critter Camp, Easter Seals volunteers, known as ‘buddies,’ are assigned to each Easter Seals camper to help them have the best experience at our Critter Camp.

All of our Critter Campers learned so much about animals this week and got to play with lots of adorable, adoptable pets from the Houston SPCA!

We have many different sessions of Critter Camp still available for your campers – see more info below:

2015 Camp Schedule 2015 Description Picture

 

To register, head over to www.HoustonSPCA.org today!


Brushing up on Your Pet’s Dental Health

donate button  adopt button  volunteer button  report abuse button

February is pet dental health awareness month. To celebrate we have some of our very own smiling pups here to tell you all about keeping your pet’s teeth healthy!

dogsmile3

You know your dentist’s orders: Brush and floss twice a day to keep your human teeth nice and healthy. But what about your pet’s teeth?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by age three! Dental care is not always a priority at a vet’s office, but as a pet owner you can make it one. Having your pet’s teeth cleaned properly by a veterinarian can help prevent infections and prolong your pet’s life.

dogsmile2

Let’s discuss ways to keep your pet’s teeth nice and healthy:

1. Take your pet to get a dental exam at your veterinarian’s office at least once a year.

2. Start a dental-care regimen at home – ask your vet for appropriate methods to help keep your pet’s teeth clean on a daily basis.

3. Schedule a yearly dental cleaning with your veterinarian. You have to go to the dentist once a year for a full dental cleaning – your pet should too!

dogsmile

Common signs of dental disease (if your pet exhibits any of these, please take them to your veterinarian):

  • Consistently stinky breath
  • Loose or discolored teeth or teeth covered in tartar
  • Your pet is not comfortable with you touching their mouth
  • Abnormal drooling or dropping food from the mouth
  • Bleeding from the gums
  • Loss of appetite or loss of weight

dogsmile4

To find out more about pet dental health, visit these sites:

https://www.avma.org/Events/pethealth/Pages/February-is-National-Pet-Dental-Health-Month.aspx

https://community.petco.com/t5/animal-care/How-to-Brush-Your-Dog-s-Teeth/ba-p/54644

http://www.vetstreet.com/care/dental-health

For more information about the Houston SPCA, visit our website: www.HoustonSPCA.org


Valentine’s Day Throwback: Houston SPCA tips for a pet safe Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is almost here and the Houston SPCA has the best tips on how to keep your pets safe during this loving holiday!

Head over to our Valentine’s Day pet tips by clicking here: https://houstonspca.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/houston-spca-tips-for-a-pet-safe-valentines-day/

If you want to add a little bit of extra love to your Valentine’s Day, take a trip to the Houston SPCA to find a new furry friend for your family.

You can see all of our adoptable animals by clicking this link: http://www.houstonspca.org/site/PageNavigator/adopt_main


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!