Friday, February 10, 2012

Joseph O. Patton: Taking a bite out of animal education

  Read Montgomery Humane Society: The Bark, the bite and everything in between, the Capital City Free Press' comprehensive behind the scenes tour of the shelter.

  The Montgomery Humane's Society's efforts to find forever homes for homeless animals and care for and nurture them until that time only represent a portion of the MHS's goals and duties.

  The MHS' newest program empowers young people to learn about and assist shelter workers in caring for animals. Launched in the summer of 2010, the Junior Volunteer Program is open to ages 8 - 15 and includes parental involvement. Those volunteers meet monthly to learn about and develop new pet care skills. The young volunteers become shelter "helpers," assisting MHS workers with walking and bathing animals as well as various off-site activities.

  MHS Marketing and Development Director Lea Turbert says the program already boasts 112 participating families.

  A highly popular program which fosters an understand of animal needs and simultaneously helps boost literacy is Read To The Paw. Created by MHS Humane Education Coordinator Mary Hughes, the program utilizes dogs as a furry support group to help improve young people's reading skills.

  Harvey - a Golden Retriever and "graduate" of the Montgomery Humane Society - is taken to area schools and listens to schoollchidren as they read aloud to him. The lack of judgment and criticism from Harvey helps boost the children's self-esteem, Turbert says. Also, she says the program has enabled many students to make great strides in reading and help develop their communication skills.

  The success and popularity of the program has led to its expansion. Turbert says eight more pets and owners have joined Harvey in his efforts, allowing the program to reach a dozen area classrooms.

  The Humane Education Program offered by the MHS stresses the interdependence among people, animals and the environment and teaches compassion and respect for all. In addition to helping prevent violence, Turbert says the program also "works hand in hand with character education programs that have been embraced by many Montgomery elementary schools."

  As part of the Humane Education Program, the MHS visits classrooms, scout troops, YMCA branches and community fairs to educate young people on animal care. Turbert says from September 2010 to December of 2011, the MHS gave 165 program presentations at 49 locations.

  Programs include “Animals Have Feelings, Too,” “How Do Animals Talk to Us?” and “Way to Be Bite Free” for grades K-4; “Things You Need to Consider Before You Adopt” for grades 2-4; “Too Many Pets, Not Enough Homes” for grades 3-6; and “What is a Domesticated Animal?” for grades 4-6.

  For more information on these programs and other outreach and educational functions of the Montgomery Humane Society, visit the MHS online: or call 334.409.0622.

  About the author: Joseph O. Patton is the editor-in-chief and founder of the Capital City Free Press. He is a former news editor for the Coosa County News, lead reporter for the Montgomery Independent and editor-in-chief of the AUMnibus, the student newspaper of Auburn-Montgomery. Patton is also the creator of and writer for the satirical news radio segment "Goat Hill Gossip," which previously aired on WAUD in Auburn, Alabama and has appeared on several Central Alabama radio programs as a political analyst.

Copyright © Capital City Free Press

No comments:

Post a Comment