Pet Responsibility Program at Vass-Lakeview
"OK. Last question. What is the best way to solve OverPUPulation and MultipliCATion?"
"Spay or neuter!" they all shouted at the tops of their voices.
The scene took place last November. The place was Vass-Lakeview Elementary School. The fourth-graders were celebrating their certification as "Responsible Pet Owners." They now understood, supported and were committed to share the message of "responsible care" for all pets.
The Moore County Citizens' Pet Responsibility Committee created and executed this education program for fourth-graders about pet responsibility. Vass-Lakeview was chosen as the pilot school, and Principal Donna McClary and her staff were extremely enthusiastic and supportive.
Jean Scott, a committee member and a fourth-grade teacher on sabbatical, created the lesson plans to integrate with the school's Character Education program, focusing on good judgment, integrity, kindness, perseverance, respect and responsibility and also linked to the N.C. Standard Course of Study.
The program consisted of five 45-minute lessons taught over a five-week period. Committee member Vee Sutherland worked with the school as project manager to coordinate the program, which was taught by committee members.
The objective was to make the students aware of their responsibilities toward the animals who share our lives and also to have some fun with the topic. Guest speakers and their companion animals were included in the program to emphasize the points being made. Guests included Moore County Deputy Tracy Monroe and Sam, his K-9 bomb sniffing dog, and Attorney Bill Clemmons and Noree, his canine companion, who helps children testify in a courtroom environment.
The final lesson took the form of an assembly for all the fourth-graders and included a special lunch and a chance to socialize with dogs, cats, miniature horses, ferrets and snakes who were brought to the event to meet the students and thank them for their concern. Rita's of Aberdeen donated Italian ice for the event.
The program was complemented by a pet food donation drive for the hungry pets in the county, and a spay/neuter campaign at the school whereby the families and teachers of Vass-Lakeview students could drop off their pets at the school in the morning to be transported to the Spay/Neuter Clinic of the Sandhills. The pets were returned to their owners at the end of the school day.
"These fourth-graders represent the future," says a spokesman.
"In less than a decade they will be out on their own with their own pets to care for. Hopefully these lessons will be with them throughout their lives."
There was also a display in the school media center on pet responsibility, pulling together all the pet-related books. The committee also added three additional books that they received for the school at a discounted rate from The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines.
Lisa Westling, the art teacher at Vass-Lakeview, emphasized the lessons learned by having the students each draw a picture representing one of the things they learned about pet responsibility.
The pictures were displayed at the Top Hat & Tails pet adoption event at the beginning of December and were also printed as note cards that are now being sold in over 35 stores in Vass, Southern Pines, Pinehurst and Aberdeen. The proceeds will be donated to the Companion Animal Clinic Foundation that supports the local Spay Neuter Clinic of the Sandhills.
Following this successful partnership with Vass-Lakeview Elementary School, the Citizens' Pet Responsibility Committee plans to refine the program and recruit a core of volunteers to carry the course to the fourth-grade students at all the public and private schools in Moore County on an annual basis.
Those interested in volunteering their time and skills can call 949-9953 for information.
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