Some of them have four legs, some have no legs at all. Not all the living beings in the average American classroom walk on two legs. With the new school year’s start just hours away, many school teachers will be introducing their human charges to a classroom pet for the first time.
Some children may already have a pet or two at home, for others the idea of taking care of an animal, fish or reptile as a pet hasn’t crossed their minds – yet.
And there may be students – and even teachers – whose allergic response to
pet dander, or even pet food, may rule out having a furry or feathered critter sharing air space with them for the 180-day school year.
That may still leave open the opportunity to enjoy an aquarium with fish, or hermit crabs.
One organization feels so strongly about the benefits of a pet in the classroom, it’s willing to support school teachers with the funds to keep a pet. On their website, Pets in the Classroom states, “Our goal is to establish healthy child-pet relationships at an early age by supporting responsible pet care in grammar and middle school classrooms across the country.” (www.petsintheclassroom.org) Funds furnished by the Pet Care Trust enable teachers to either purchase new pets, or pet environments, or pet food and supplies for classroom pets already in place.
The Pet Care Trust (PCT) is based in Bel Air, Maryland and has been operating as a non-profit organization since 1990. The group’s mission statement reads, in part, “To promote humane and responsible care and treatment of companion animals; to focus national attention on the important and vital role which responsible companion ownership places within society…” The outreach of the PCT enables teachers to enhance their students’ classroom experience – and prepare children for an opportunity to share an improved life with creatures other than themselves.
Teachers interested in applying for a grant for the 2010-2011 year may download an application form at petcaretrust.org (first be certain that your school district’s policies allow you to keep a classroom pet).
In the next few weeks, we’ll look at what animals are well-suited to be pets for children ages 7 years and up.