To kick-off "Be Kind to Animals" week on May 1st, PAWS opened its doors to local children eager to help animals. Helping the animals by volunteering at the PAWS campus and viewing the behind-the-scenes operations was a unique experience for them. People under the age of 18 cannot work directly with the animals so they choose to get involved in other ways, such as raising much-needed funds and collecting food and supplies for the animals.
The children were divided into teams for the day and volunteer educators assisted by teaching classes, supervising activities, guiding tours, and providing refreshments. The kids and the parents who accompanied them were treated to an animal-friendly lunch and rewarded with certificates and gift bags full of PAWS’ goodies.
The children were able to experience first-hand the administrative work involved in operating a companion animal shelter by assembling animal adoption packets, which are given to each family taking an animal home from PAWS and are full of important animal care information. The children also visited the Spay and Neuter Clinic and learned about companion animal over-population issues. Visiting with the shelter animals and reading about their individual histories and personalities helped the kids realize the importance of learning the responsibilities of animal care before adopting a new family member. The children seemed particularly moved by animals that were surrendered due to families moving or not having the time to care for them.
By working with Cosmo, a dog that had been adopted from PAWS, the kids were able to practice dog safety. Classes were also provided on responsible animal care and living with wildlife. Although families could not view the wild animal patients at the Wildlife Center, the kids learned about wildlife rehabilitation and protecting wildlife habitat, contributed by planting vegetables and flowers for wild animal food, and created homes for local wildlife by planting trees.
At the end of the day, exhausted but knowing they had made a difference in the lives of animals, the children left for home. In the words of one of the young women, as she climbed into her family’s car, "Thanks so much. I had a great time and would love to come back next year!" We agree! It was a great opportunity to reach children and we hope to host another Kids Who Care Day next spring.