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Sonoma Humane Society: Build-A-Bear Youth Humane Education Grant Report

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

The funds from this grant were used for general operating costs for our Humane Education program.

This grant supports our therapeutic humane-education program, which teaches empathy and caring to children at risk of animal abuse. The number of animals in our care is about 45, but the education to the children allows a much broader outreach.

How many pets did this grant help?

In addition to the residents in our program, we helped 23 farm animals who were displaced or burned out during the recent Wine Country wildfires.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

On Oct. 8, 2017, our community was ravaged by wildfires. Although the fire did not burn our facility, it certainly impacted it. Our regular humane-education classes were stopped for about two weeks as many of the child participants were evacuated because of fire or bad air quality. During that time, we were able to open our doors to rescue farm animals that were in danger from the fires. We rescued 23 farm/barnyard animals and transported them to our farm site.

Once there, we opened our doors for volunteers to come and help and also for respite for fire victims and first responders. More than 25 firefighters from the state of Washington came for respite and to help care for the animals. Some children who had lost their homes and their pets also came for the therapeutic setting and interaction with our resident animals. Moving new animals into a small setting with existing animals was very educational for all involved, as it showed what can be done with limited resources. When our children returned to the program, they were involved in the care and feeding of the visiting animals.

To date, all have been reunited with their guardians, with one exception: a badly burned chicken named Autumn. Autumn has been housed with staff and comes to the shelter every day for care from our veterinary hospital and from the children in the program. Her recovery is slow and it will be a while before she can walk again. She is a great example of how every animal deserves to be cared for. The children are learning a lot from her, but their most important lesson is that every living being deserves a chance. Autumn still has a long way to go before she can be integrated into our existing chicken flock.

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