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PAWS Panhandle Animal Welfare Society: Build-A-Bear Youth Humane Education Grant Report

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

To support our existing humane education programs for kids ages 6-14. We hosted bite-prevention and responsible pet care and ownership classes throughout our county and offered hand-outs at all of our events. We hosted puppy-palooza at the shelter, where kids got to kiss a puppy, and learned how to approach and hold a puppy/dog the proper way.

We give away "Doggie Dos and Dont's" coloring and activity books, "What You Should Know About Bite Prevention," Pawsitive stickers, "A Children's Guide to Pet Care," "Maddie's Tail Wag" and "The Importance of Spay/Neuter for Your Pet's Health" at the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Department Kids' Summer Camp Day, Construction Junction (county children's day in which they bring out all the giant equipment and support vehicles -- fire trucks, tanks, ambulances and animal-control vehicles -- and children get to go inside all the equipment), the Latin Festival, Dog Days at Bass Pro Shops, Barnes & Noble Children's Book Fair, Pet Supermarket, PetSmart, and the local YMCAs.

We spoke to several of the local Boys and Girls Clubs, taking dogs to visit with them and demonstrate proper care for pets. We loved those sessions because the kids were so proud and excited to have the opportunity to tell everyone about their pets and to help the shelter by building recycled-t-shirt chew toys for the dogs.

Any time we are able to educate children and families about caring for an animal, we help to reduce the number of animals returned or surrendered to our own and other shelters. We teach the importance of spaying/neutering all pets to keep animal overpopulation down. Once parents, grandparents and children understand how to handle animals, care for and treat them, the number of surrenders due to bite and behavioral issues are reduced. We also have seen an increase in our number of adoptions because we help educate the children and families prior to adoption about proper pet care and ownership.

After one of the educational sessions with the Boys and Girls Clubs, the children had learned that we are an unlimited-intake shelter and they raised money and purchased Kuranda beds for the entire shelter. They also hosted their own adoption event at our local Pet Supermarket.

If we had not had the opportunity to offer the Youth Education Program to this group of children, our shelter would not have had received all the wonderful new beds and benefited from the additional adoption event.

How many pets did this grant help?

We feel that we have helped a minimum of 500 pets with this grant.

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

Kylo has a beautiful story that gave PAWS its first “viral” post. A police officer (Officer Montgomery) was in our office on an unrelated issue. While he was getting a response from our ACO manager, one of our kennel techs walked in with an adorable tiny black-and-white bulldog puppy and told our manager that someone had left this handsome little baby behind our offices on one of the coldest evenings of the year.

Officer Montgomery held the little dog up to his chest, and it was love at first sight. The next step was to see if his fiancee would let him adopt the puppy. So we took a photo of him holding the puppy and sent it to his fiancee; we also posted the photo on our Facebook page at the same time. The photo went viral overnight: Officer Montgomery’s photo was on Good Morning America, Huffington Post, ABC, BarkPost, Buzzfeed, several police websites and even Time magazine.

We had Officer Montgomery and Kylo come to our Barnes & Noble Children’s Book Fair as one of our Community Readers. At the same time that the children in attendance got to see a local police officer as a loving pet owner, they got to see how to greet a new animal correctly and they were educated about bite prevention and spay/neuter.

Kylo had not only found a new home, he became a “spokes-dog” for proper pet ownership, care and bite prevention.

Further Reading