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Why do we need to teach modern children to handle pets

Western experience and new culture in Ukrainian realities

Kateryna Kovaliuk, Chief Reputation Officer of Kormotech and the founder of the course of humane education for Ukrainian schools

Somewhere in a friendly conversation, I heard an interesting idea: the country's level of civilization determines how its citizens honor the dead and treat homeless animals. It is hard to argue. A few years ago, the Washington Post included Ukraine in countries with the most significant number of homeless four-legged animals. The bad news is that most of them had owners or were born to pets before they found themselves on the streets. The good news is that we can influence the situation humanely. This method includes catching stray dogs and cats, sterilization, and relocation to new families. This approach has been working successfully in Lviv for several years.

However, to solve the problem systematically, it is necessary to work ahead and teach social responsibility. Humane education for children is something that can radically change our future.  

 

European experience 

A civilized culture of treating pets is not something "fashionable" or "new." Western European countries have been practiced it for a long time and regulate humane treatment at the legislative level. In addition to promoting the comfortable life of pets, it involves educational work, namely - the development of appropriate educational programs. More than 20 countries, including Ukraine, have signed the Convention for the Protection of Pets.

For more than 20 years, animal welfare lessons have been part of the school curriculum in Germany. There is a Center for Environmental Education in Fulda, which organizes special classes for children and conducts seminars for teachers. This country was the first to protect animal rights at the constitutional level. Now they have virtually no problem with stray cats and dogs.

Switzerland was one of the first to recognize animals as members of society with special rights and dignity. Before buying a dog, future owners took special courses to care for their pets.

Such lessons are a common practice in Austria as well. Several organizations develop and promote educational materials for harmonious coexistence with animals for children of all ages.

 

Lviv experience 

For the fifth year in a row, Lviv seventh-graders studied the culture of behavior with pets. Within the framework of the well-known subject "Biology", they are taking an innovative course of humane education, "Club 4 paws" (formerly "Little Prince. Lviv, that loves pets"). These are four lessons in the classroom and one activity in the company that catches, sterilizes, and adapts cats and dogs. The project was initiated by Kormotech together with the city education department. The idea is to teach children to perceive animals as equals.

 

Education of empathy and responsibility

Lessons are based on specially designed textbooks and notebooks. In addition to theoretical knowledge: the impact of animals on humans, the needs of pets, legal rules of content - there are many practical tips and tasks. For example, children calculate how much money it takes to keep a dog, what to do if the animal is lost, what should be in the pet's first aid kit, and try to understand their emotions and learn the rules of communication with them.

The course includes creative exercises and discussions of everyday situations. All to maximally interest and involve students in learning. Such training, in particular, is the key to solving the problem of homeless four-legged animals in Ukraine. In the complex, it changes the perception of animals in children. They understand that a puppy or kitten is not only a joy but a great responsibility.

 

Why this is important

Educating children to treat animals well and respect their lives forms the basic principles of humanity. When a child learns to empathize with pets, pay attention to their boundaries, and take care of their well-being, they will transfer this experience to the relationship with the environment and other people. Our goal is the generation of young people for whom such norms will be familiar.

This program has helped me rethink many aspects of interacting with animals. I sincerely regret that I did not have such a subject. However, I am sincerely glad that my children will study it at school. Now premium pet food brand CLUB 4 PAWS is ready to expand the regional boundaries of the project and bring it to the national level. However, this requires the support of local communities and the willingness of city education departments to cooperate systematically.