Humane education and outreach help end pet homelessness
The Dumb Friends League believes that humane education plays an essential role in ending pet homelessness and animal suffering, and our small yet mighty team of three is sharing our message throughout communities each month.
Our Humane Education department offers 18 programs at our shelter and throughout the Denver metro and Aurora, Adams, Arapahoe, Douglas and Jefferson County communities on various animal welfare topics. Classes are year-round and divided into day, extended and community programs for students in grades kindergarten through 12 and community groups of all ages. Except for youth camps, clubs and junior volunteering, which have a minimal fee, most programs have no charge.
The League’s Humane Education team had to rethink what education looked like as soon as schools moved to virtual environments last year, and they worked with parents and teachers to navigate animal welfare education questions and needs. Since COVID-19 began, the Humane Education team:
- Recorded and shared 18 lessons in the form of short videos. All videos are free and offer adults and children virtual engagement and learning opportunities. Check out ddfl.org/humane-education/virtual-lessons—and for the special pups in your life, don’t miss the Barks and Biscuits recipe. It’s a tail-wagging treat!
- Created a six-week summer challenge that kept children and families engaged with creating chalk art, making posters, ridding neighborhoods of trash and painting our longest stay animals at our shelters. Not only did participants have fun, they learned and helped the animals in our care when they needed extra love.
- Modified our Tales for Tails lessons, which provided young learners with the opportunity to read to shelter cats at the Leslie A. Malone Center in Denver in a socially distanced manner and respecting guidelines.
- Offered Junior Volunteer Club sessions that allowed teenagers to volunteer at our shelters alongside a paired adult volunteer (again in a socially distanced way and respecting guidelines).
- Produced a heartwarming video of children reading to their pets to share with senior center residents to lift their spirits and ward off loneliness until we’re able to meet face to face.
- Developed a plan to expand the Tales for Tails reading program to the Harmony Equine Center so that kids in first through twelfth grades have the opportunity to tour Harmony, learn about horses and practice their reading skills while spending time with equines.
The COVID-19 crisis remained a concern when the 2020/2021 school year began, with many students enrolled in online learning programs for the full academic year and others following a hybrid approach. As a result, our Humane Education team approached the school year differently and offered two options for lessons:
- In-person lessons offered outdoors in a socially distanced manner with all participants wearing masks and following health protocols, including a temperature check. These lessons are approximately 20 minutes in length to accommodate tighter school schedules and weather variability.
- Virtual lessons offered via Google Meet, Zoom or FaceTime. These lessons are 30 minutes in length and can be customized to meet teachers’ needs.
While humane education never stopped, that doesn’t mean it was business as usual, but the League’s team adapted with every challenge and continues to meet our community’s needs. Just imagine how many new stories our humane educators will have to make their lessons come alive!
Whether you’re a teacher looking to schedule a classroom visit, a scout troop hoping to earn requirements toward pet-related badges or a community organization interested in knowing how to stay safe around dogs, we’ve got a program to meet your needs. As part of our humane education program, we also offer camps and teen volunteer opportunities. For more information about our programs, visit ddfl.org/community-education/ or call 720.241.7132 to schedule a lesson.