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Humane Society of Utah: Build-A-Bear Youth Humane Education Grant Report

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

Funding from the Petfinder Foundation was used to support the salaries of our full-time Humane Education Director and full-time Humane Education Coordinator. From the time funding was received from the Petfinder Foundation in August until today's date (11/6/17), the director and coordinator have been able to give humane education presentations to a total of 3,668 children through our annual H.E.R.O. Summer Camp, classroom visits, and birthday parties. Additionally, our Humane Education staff have already begun preparations for 2018 summer camp and plan to extend it from four weeks to eight. The purpose is to engage and cater to children from first through eighth grades on their individual grade levels.

These presentations offer stimulating perspectives and invite discussions about animal welfare and advocacy in a variety of ways. They teach children about the importance of spaying and neutering to decrease the number of homeless animals, proper pet care, the importance of adopting rather than buying, understanding animal behavior, and how to interact with animals.

Through our year-round education program and our summer camp, we have seen children become more empathetic and gain a deeper and more profound understanding of animal behaviors and needs. We have observed that, as the community learns more about the humane treatment of animals as well as adoptable pets from the HSU, they look to us as a resource for these issues and are more likely to adopt from us. This type of education immediately affects how children interact with the animals they meet and has led to more pet adoptions from our shelter.

We have noticed a tremendous impact over the two years since we started visiting schools. At the beginning, most, if not all, of the students, particularly kindergarten through sixth grade, did not know the definition of spaying or neutering. Now when we visit, at least 1/3 of the students can state not just what it means but why it's important. In general, students seem much more aware of how to meet a dog properly and what animals need in order to be happy, healthy and safe. We have also noticed an increase in teachers implementing animal curricula into their syllabus and requesting monthly visits to their classrooms to teach humane education lessons.

We have had reports from teachers stating that students who normally display behavior issues are calm and improve when we visit. They listen and seem happier than at any other time during the school day. We have also observed that students we visit monthly are much more kind and respectful of each other when animals are present. When we come into a noisy room, the students immediately change their noise level to make the animals feel safe and comfortable. They are gentle with the animals, and many students state that they would like to work or volunteer with animals when they are old enough. These behaviors improve with each visit, and we see that the students are eager to learn.

We've even learned that some of the students' families have recently adopted from shelters rather than purchasing as a direct result of our visits to their classroom. The grant from the Petfinder Foundation has allowed us to continue offering these presentations and services to families. As a result, the animals have benefited.

How many pets did this grant help?

To date, we have found positive outcomes for 8,500 animals. Education promotes general advocacy of all animals in our care, so all animals who come through our shelter benefit from this grant.

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

Several children who attended summer camp adopted pets from the Humane Society of Utah as a direct result of attending camp. One camp attendee fell in love with Ginger, a 4-year-old Dachshund mix, during her week at camp. She introduced Ginger to her mother, who had no intention of adopting a new pet. This sweet girl, however, stole her heart and they made the decision to make her a part of their family. Ginger is thriving in her new home with her canine sister, Pepper! Please see the attached photos of Ginger with her family. The second photo is the day Ginger was discovered and adopted during camp. The third is of GInger with her sister, Pepper. Also, the first photo is the screenshot of the Facebook post we put up thanking the Petfinder Foundation for their support.

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