Kids get an education in pet care


A United Animal Nations program helps children develop empathy for animals.

Pet the cat gently. Make sure the dog is well fed. Handle the pet rabbit carefully. These are some of the lessons children are learning at an early age, thanks to the United Animal Nations (UAN).

The organization's Humane Education Ambassador Reader program was developed in response to an increasing number of animal cruelty cases, like puppy mill rescues. Rather than just react to these situations, UAN decided to take a proactive approach, teaching young children humane attitudes toward animals.

The program pairs volunteer readers with elementary school classes and is designed to fit in with specific curriculum standards for different states. The volunteers read carefully selected picture books about people and animals to help children understand the meaning of a pet's sounds and body language. These lessons are especially important for children who have no pets or who have had fearful experiences with animals.

The program has seen success in California; Washington, D.C.; and British Columbia, and UAN is preparing to expand to other cities. Click here for more information about the Humane Education Ambassador Reader program.

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