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Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS): Build-A-Bear Youth Humane Education Grant Report

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

The grant is supporting our Humane Education program by covering expenses associated with personnel, printing of educational materials, supplies, and transportation. In doing so, it is helping us increase the number of educational sessions we are able to hold and students we are able to reach, and will continue to do so as we head into the new year. PAWS launched our humane education program in 2009 in an effort to instill in young people an understanding of the homeless pet epidemic, the importance of treating pets with kindness and compassion, and the ability to identify and curtail animal cruelty in their communities.

PAWS' Humane Education program brings PAWS staff and volunteers to Philadelphia public-school classrooms in communities experiencing high rates of poverty and pet homelessness. We offer sessions to K-12 audiences, and most of our sessions (more than half) are held in middle-school classrooms (age 11-14). We cover topics including how animal shelters work, the compassionate treatment of animals, how to safely interact with an animal, the importance and availability of spay/neuter and veterinary care, the benefits of adopting, how to identify, report, and prevent animal cruelty, and more.

Our Humane Education program is having a meaningful, clear impact on the students we reach, and it is also positively affecting pets in students' homes and communities. In our education sessions, we pay special attention to increasing awareness of the availability of our low-cost spay/neuter and wellness clinics, which provide basic veterinary care for struggling pet owners who could not otherwise afford or access it. These services have proven essential to preventing unwanted litters and keeping pets in their homes instead of landing in shelters, particularly in high-need communities.

We consider the most important markers of our programs' success to be the intake and live-release rates at the city's animal-control shelter. In the years since PAWS began providing humane education and providing services to low-income pet owners, annual intake to the city shelter has gone from a high of 30,000 animals (2010) to a record low of under 24,000 (2015). 2016 is expected to follow these trends and be the most successful year yet: The city shelter is on track to receive 22,500 dogs and cats and post a 79% live-release rate, indicating that Philadelphia is two years away from achieving no-kill status. The coming year will be crucial to reaching this milestone, and our Humane Education program will continue to play a role in making progress toward our goal.

How many pets did this grant help?


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

Emmy is a rescued former stray who visits classrooms as part of PAWS’ Humane Education program. A repeat resident at the shelter, Emmy was adopted and returned five times — more than any dog in PAWS’ history — each time through no fault of her own. She found her forever home with our community outreach coordinator, who leads PAWS’ Humane Education program. Together they visit classrooms to teach lessons on animal shelters, the prevention of animal abuse, and interacting with pets. Emmy helps demonstrate friendly behavior and interacts with kids — her favorite people! Now around 16 years old, Emmy recently “retired” as a humane educator and now happily spends her days napping and spending time with her human family.

Further Reading