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Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society: Build-A-Bear Youth Humane Education Grant Report

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

The $5,000 Build-A-Bear Youth Humane Education Grant was used for education programs.

There are two programs which we consider key to teaching responsible pet ownership and which are not funded in any way: school visits and student co-ops.

The first, school visits, builds upon the theme of Safety, Responsibility and Opportunity. We teach safety to the primary grades, responsibility to the middle grades, and opportunity to the senior grades. Our school visits reach 40% of the elementary schools in our region – public and Catholic. We have four part-time educators who, with their own trained canines, visit the schools on a rotation so that every child is exposed to our teaching in a graduated manner (for instance, typically, their first contact with our educator is when they are in grade one, the second would be in third grade, and so on).

Our humane-education program has twice been recognized by our peers in the animal welfare sector, winning Summit Awards in 2012 and 2014. (The KWHS won the Award of Excellence for nonprofits from our chamber of commerce in 2014).

Careers in animal welfare, with the exception of veterinarian, are not high on students’ lists of co-op placements or post-graduation employment. However, through our presentations to high school students, we are gradually changing this. Typically, we have at least four co-op students each school year. These young adults come in and work with our animal-care staff in all areas – cleaning, adoption, and health care. Because we have an on-site animal hospital, co-op students are exposed to veterinarians and vet technicians in addition to animal-care staff.

In the fall of 2015 we were invited by the Catholic Board of Waterloo Region to create and deliver a program within Ontario’s Specialized High Skills Major elective. We had schools from both Waterloo Region and Wellington County participate.

How many pets did this grant help?


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

Our humane education consists of a “bucket” of programs. Some, such as camps and clubs, are revenue-generating, although even for camps and clubs we hold spots for fee-assisted children. In the summer of 2015, for example, we worked closely with the local Family and Children’s Services and the women’s shelters to bring children to camp who would otherwise not have been able to financially afford it. Overall, we helped about 30 children (this includes two at our Stratford site who came to us through Big Sisters). I have attached three photos. The first is from our Junior Vet Club; the second is of a child reading in our March-break Tales for Tails; and the third is of a summer camper learning to handle a domestic pet bird.

Further Reading