In an article in the Montreal Gazette on May 14th, “City to Strengthen Animal Bylaws“, Richard Deschamps, Executive Committee member in charge of citizen services, said “Montreal will not tolerate cruelty towards animals,” and “educating people is a huge part of the system.”
These two statements really stuck with me because I am a really big believer in education and early education. Over the years, I have had the pleasure and privilege to go into elementary and high schools to teach students about compassion/respect towards animals. My latest visit was last week with a group of wonderful grade 2s and great 4s eager to learn, eager to listen, and eager to embrace all I had to say.
I feel blessed when I have the opportunity to transfer knowledge to open hearts and open minds…Humane Education is all about responsible pet ownership. Educating kids beyond algebra and language, is in my mind, a MUST! It is the same when I talk about the environment – there is much more resistance to change when I deliver a message to people already set in their ways…thinking their methods work ..so who am I to try and change them?
In my lesson to the kids, I talked about kindness and compassion, diversity and differences, what makes a happy pet and how being kind to animals can make one feel really good inside. I talked about feelings that animals experience and how they would feel if someone hits them. I asked the students how they would feel if they had not eaten this morning? By the end of the lesson, they could feel and understand that animals have many things in common with humans – I saw their mood change, their demeanor change – even their body language change – it was a lesson in sensitization which I can size up in one word – WONDERFUL!
To make it even more effective, this time I brought Punky; a little disabled dog from Taiwan, to the class to discuss her jouney of love and how a little dog discarded like garbage at the local market, found her way to Montreal through the love and kindness of a variety of people who thought she deserved a better life! The interaction was incredible and the concern for her continued well-being was evident.
My belief is that prevention is key. Time and time again, research has shown that aggression and abuse towards animals ( who can not speak out) leads to other acts of violence; bullying, meanness, and even further aggression in adulthood. If we as parents, advocates, teachers, and just basically caring human beings, take the time to send the right message – we can all lend a hand in fostering a generation of kind, thoughtful and caring individuals – by simply teaching kindness and compassion towards animals from an early age. Teaching a child how to put an animal’s needs first to discussing the larger social issues, wel send the RIGHT message – encouraging children to look upon animals, with whom we share this planet with, in a respectul and loving manner.
“Be the change you want to see in the world” -Gandhi