RSPCA launches new programme for parents and children to learn about animals at home
Families can get extra help and advice preparing for a pet thanks to a new programme from the RSPCA.
Compassionate Family is a new education programme for parents to teach their children about animal welfare at home.
The new programme which has launched this month focuses on the welfare of dogs, cats and rabbits and provides parents with information and activities they can do with their children.
During the pandemic, there has been a huge surge in pet ownership and these activities can help prepare those families who are thinking about getting a pet, or help those who have recently bought or adopted a pet, to learn more about their animal’s needs and behaviour.
David Allen, Head of Education and Prevention at the RSPCA, said: “We are so pleased to have launched Compassionate Family which provides parents with the resources they need to learn about animal welfare with their children at home.
"We already run Compassionate Class which provides teaching plans and resources for schools to use with Key Stage 2 pupils but we wanted something that was specifically for families.
“With the huge surge in pet ownership over the last 12 months, many children may be getting a pet for the very first time so we saw this as an ideal opportunity for children to learn about their pets’ needs and behaviour, such as how to understand and read their body language, and inspire children to do something good for animals.”
The programme begins by introducing the concept of compassion and outlining an animal’s needs, there are then a range of activities focusing on dogs, cats and rabbits for parents and children to complete.
The final section talks about advocacy, which brings together their learning and encourages the family to champion animal welfare in a creative and imaginative way such as doing a litter pick, creating a wildlife friendly garden, or keeping an eye out for higher welfare labels like RSPCA Assured when out shopping.
The RSPCA has concerns that some people may be buying a pet, after the last year of lockdown, on impulse rather than considering whether they have the time, money and resources to care for a pet for the rest of their lives.
It is hoped the programme will help families plan and prepare for bringing a pet home and owners are fully prepared for the commitment it entails.
Dave added: “Whilst adults should always be ultimately responsible for pets, caring for them can involve the whole family. Children can help with things like cleaning small animal enclosures, preparing a pet’s food and enjoying going out for walks with the dog - all as part of regular supervised family activities.
"Helping to care for pets can encourage children to become more responsible and increase their empathy and compassion to others.”
For more information or to get involved with Compassionate Family visit: https://education.rspca.org.uk/education/family