We went to an animal shelter (spca.org) to learn more about being responsible for animals and to learn how we could help the shelter. I consider this a great awareness activity as it teaches the boys about what shelters do and the importance of taking care of animals. Visiting the animal shelter can be done in 15-20 minutes and provides many opportunities to have meaningful conversations with your children about helping animals and organizations that help abused or abandoned animals.
Little Brother said,”Awesome!!!” as soon as we got out of the car, and he saw a guy bringing in his dogs to meet their new “brother.” The boys really liked the meeting rooms and hearing (from me) how the shelter worked. We talked about how they take care of animals like we would at home and what that means. We watched a volunteer working with a cat and being kind. We saw another worker helping someone find a good dog for her family. We oooo’ed and aaaawww’ed over the bunny and the cats.
I wanted them to see the dogs in their kennels to talk about what happens when there are problems with keeping an animal. Most of the dogs available for adoption were there (at least on that day) because of moving, divorce, barking, or “too active.” We saw happy dogs, active dogs, sad dogs, calm dogs, and injured dogs. (It was very loud in that room.) It was a good experience to start teaching them about being “committed” and to help them understand what it means to be in charge of an animal.
We talked to an employee about why we were there and how we could help. She directed us to a wish list which had some surprising things like: old newspaper. Once kids turn 12, they can volunteer and provide more direct service at the shelter. For smaller children, though, she said that it was just best to talk about what it means to have a pet, how to take care of a pet, and to understand that when you get a pet you should be prepared to take care of it forever.
(We had already done those things. So, we left feeling pretty pleased with ourselves.) We now have the wish list and are working towards putting a donation box together.
Big Brother, in the end, thought that it was good to go there because he had no idea “that a place did that and that those things happened to animals.”