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Humane Education : Circle of Compassion

Humane Education is key to creating a just, compassionate, healthy world for all.

A caring society ensures good animal welfare standards. It promotes responsible animal care and use, and helps ensure animal welfare standards meet public expectations. People expect animals to enjoy reasonable standards of welfare.

We must take steps to create a compassionate ethic and improve the relationship between people and companion animals.

In the Circle of Compassion, schools, families and communities take responsibility for teaching respect and compassion for animals, and responsible pet guardianship.


Five Freedoms

The internationally-recognised ´Five Freedoms´ provide valuable guidance on animal welfare:

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst : ready access to water and a diet to maintain
    health and vigour
  • Freedom from discomfort : by providing an appropriate environment including
    shelter and a comfortable resting area
  • Freedom from pain, injury and disease : by prevention or rapid diagnosis and
  • Freedom to express normal behaviour : by providing sufficient space, proper
    facilities and company of the animals own kind
  • Freedom from fear and distress : by ensuring conditions and treatment which
    avoid mental suffering

SCHOOL : Teaching Compassion & Care

Children trained to extend justice, kindness and compassion to animals become more just, kind and considerate in their relationships with one another. A strong correlation between childhood cruelty to animals and future antisocial and aggressive behaviour has been confirmed in numerous psychological studies. See the Resources section for references.

Humane education is needed to develop an enlightened society that has empathy and respect for life, thus breaking the cycle of abuse. The aim is to create a culture of caring where individuals have the foundation upon which to base their actions.

Classroom Curriculum & Activities
Many organizations have produced curriculum material which they provide for free. Here are just a few examples, more will be added to the Resources section when available. (US-based curriculum and activities can easily be modified for Canadian requirements.)

Teacher resources include Lesson Plans and the BC SPCA e-Teacher newsletter.

»» Dumb Friends League
An excellent collection of free, downloadable lesson plans for Kindergarten to High School.

»» Best Friends NextGen Education in Action
A complete website dedicated to helping kids learn about animals, with activities, videos and resources.

»» Institute for Humane Education
Animal Protection Humane Education Activities feature lesson plans & activities that explore issues related to the protection and welfare of nonhuman animals and our connection to them as individuals and species. Activity topics include the connections between animal and human oppression, the inconsistencies in how we make choices about how we treat others, and more. Elementary to College level.

»» TEACHkind
TeachKind, the humane-education division of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is a resource for teachers, administrators, and librarians who want to help students become kinder, more compassionate individuals. Place orders for free curricum material for a class or a whole school!

»» Do Something
"Powering offline action. Using the power of online to get teens to do good stuff offline". Do Something offers resources and activity ideas for youth to learn about animal welfare issues.

»» Animal Welfare Institute
Free to download humane education activities and very reasonable resources such as books and games are provided by the Animal Welfare Institute.

All One Community
By practicing compassion and empathy, to humans and non-humans alike, students learn how their choices affect others and the world around them; they learn about the power of their actions and how to use that power responsibly; they learn to be active, problem-solving members of society; they learn we are All One Community.

»» Humane Education Activities for Pre-K & Kindergarten

»» Humane Education Activities for Language Arts & Literacy, Grades 1-2

»» Humane Education Activities for Language Arts & Literacy, Grades 3-5

Check out the website created by The Humane Society of the US for teens to get them involved in speaking up for the humane treatment of animals. Download their Mission: Humane Action Guide to read about the program, or visit

Humane Education Presentations
Humane Educators are available in many cities to come into your classroom to teach lessons on empathy, pet care and safety.

Summer Camps for Kids & Animals
A great way to keep children engaged with animal care and safety activities.

See also:
»» Dog Safety & Bite Prevention

FAMILY : One of the Family

The foundation of a creating a compassionate and caring society is established in the lessons we learn in our homes. Strategies and skills to help your child be a caring citizen in a humane world begin when the decision is made to bring a companion animal into the family.

Demonstrating that the decision itself is a key factor for a successful relationship with your family pet, tells your family that pets have needs that must be met and that a long-term commitment to their health and welfare is of utmost importance.

»» Getting a pet : What to think about
• Responsible pet guardianship
• Where to get help
»» I am a Dog

The link between animal cruelty and antisocial or violent bahaviour:
»» The Relationship between Animal Cruelty, Delinquency and Attitudes toward the Treatment
of Animals
Bill C Henry, Department of Psychology, Metropolitan State College of Denver. This is an academic study.

See also:
»» Dog Safety & Bite Prevention

COMMUNITY : Pets are members of our communities too

Working towards greater community awareness and understanding of the lives and needs of our companion animals. Pets are community members too—their health andwelfare affects the whole community.

»»The Guardian Campaign
'The Guardian Campaign strives to bring about a more just, humane world by modeling responsible, caring and respectful language and behaviour toward the animals and the people we encounter at home, in school and in our community.'

Visit the website to find the 'Guardian Pack' for your community campaign along with a step-by-step guide.

»»WE CARE! Youth Club
The WE CARE! Youth Club is an excellent model program for a community animal club for youth and teens. This program is for '...enthusiastic youth who love animals, want to learn more and help make life better for both animals and people.'

• Stop Animal Cruelty and Neglect in Your Community
If you think an animal is being abused, either through violence or through cruel neglect, you can take action to help!

Start a Neighborhood Watch Program.

Get to know the animals in your neighborhood and invite your friends and neighbors to do the same. Together you can keep an eye out for any suspicious behaviors—abuse and neglect of companion animals, the mistreatment of local wildlife, dogs left in hot cars and other signs of abuse.

Signs that may alert you an animal needs help:

Physical Signs
• Collar so tight that it has caused a neck wound or has become embedded in the pet’s neck
• Open wounds, signs of multiple healed wounds or an ongoing injury or illness that isn’t being treated
• Untreated skin conditions that have caused loss of hair, scaly skin, bumps or rashes
• Extreme thinness or emaciation—bones may be visible
• Fur infested with fleas, ticks or other parasites
• Patches of bumpy, scaly skin rashes
• Signs of inadequate grooming, such as extreme matting of fur, overgrown nails and dirty coat
• Weakness, limping or the inability to stand or walk normally
• Heavy discharge from eyes or nose
• An owner striking or otherwise physically abusing an animal
• Visible signs of confusion or extreme drowsiness

Environmental Signs
• Pets are tied up alone outside for long periods of time without adequate food or water, or with food or water that is unsanitary
• Pets are kept outside in inclement weather without access to adequate shelter
• Pets are kept in an area littered with feces, garbage, broken glass or other objects that could harm them
• Animals are housed in kennels or cages (very often crowded in with other animals) that are too small to allow them to stand, turn around and make normal movements possibly with too many other animals

See also:
»» Dog Safety & Bite Prevention