June 1, 2016
Categories: Evolution of the No-Kill Movement

What’s better than summer vacation for kids? Summer vacation spending time with and helping animals!

If your kids are crazy about animals, and you want to encourage the development of empathy and compassion, summer programs working with homeless pets should be at the top of your family to-do list. Consider these possibilities.

Reading programs are becoming more and more popular among younger kids who are learning how to read, and for good reason.  Along with building confidence in the child’s ability to read, it tends to have a calming effect on shelter pets. It also provides the animal with socialization and human interaction. The Humane Society of Missouri made headlines earlier this year with their Shelter Buddies Reading Program. Check to see if any of your local groups have a similar program, or simply ask if they would allow your child to come read to the animals.

Pet handling programs teach skills such as how to greet a pet. Learning how to interact with pets at a young age will help keep your child and the animals safe. KC Pet Project’s Operation Breakthrough does just that, running what Tori Fugate describes as “an urban youth education group where we work with young students to talk about how to properly greet pets, how to care for them, etc.”

Group tours, whether with a soccer team, Eagle Scout group, or youth group, can be a great way to open children’s eyes to the world of animal welfare and show them what they can do to help. Fearless Kitty Rescue in Phoenix may not have specific programs yet, but have had their fair share of tours. “We’ve had quite a few scout troops and youth church groups raise funds for us, do special projects and tour our facility,” said Kim Kamins. “It’s always great when the kids come by because they really take an interest in rescue.”

Fundraisers are an easy way for your child to get involved and help raise money or supplies to save animals. They can do it by themselves or with a group, and the fundraising ideas are endless. Whether they donate their birthday to the cause, sell something,  host a car-wash, or simply reach out to friends and family for supplies, the animals will benefit as will your child from the experience. Muttville Senior Dog Rescue of San Francisco, has a lot of girl scout troops who run donation drives for them. Here’s the story of a recent one!

Maddie’s® Tail Wag Activity Book is something your child can do right from home, or on the go. It’s a collection of activities and coloring pages for animal lovers of all ages, especially those six years old and under. These fun and educational pages are intended to help children develop skills necessary for entrance into kindergarten. Learn more and download the PDF in either English or Spanish. Don’t forget to share photos of their drawings with us!

Fostering a pet may be the most important item on this list. While kids can’t technically foster a dog or cat on their own, fostering a pet as a family can be a great experience for everyone. Summer is often a good time to foster – especially for the first time  –  as kids are out of school and have more time to help care for it. Fostering programs place pets in a home environment and also makes room for others in a shelter or rescue. Your whole family benefits from it, too. Don’t believe us? Check out this adorable article from Barkpost, and then check with your local shelter or rescue organizations about finding the right foster fit for your family.

Volunteering is for kids! While your child might not be old enough to perform certain volunteer duties, there are likely some non-traditional roles they could help with. “Currently we have a young man working on his Eagle Scout badge and he’s building TNR traps for us, this does not require him to be at the rescue center under the guidance of a volunteer,” said Kamins. KC Pet Project has a number of programs targeting youth and is expanding to older students.  Fugate said, “We have a number of things in development for youth right now including a new Youth Leadership Board of high school students for the 2016-17 school year.”

There are so many ways for your child to get involved, and every organization is different. We recommend reaching out to your local groups to see what they offer, and determine if it sounds like a good fit.

Remember, even if they don’t have a set program in place, don’t be afraid to ask about how your child can get involved, and even offer up one of the above activities or others. Are they a good writer? Ask if they can help write pet bios. Same for photography if they love taking photos. No matter how they get involved, it will be an experience to remember for your child – and the animals they help!

Don’t miss more innovative ideas for pet fostering, adoption, shelter medicine and stories about how pets make our lives better and happier — sign up here!