Arizona Humane Society: Build-A-Bear Youth Humane Education Grant
What was the money or product used for?

This grant was used to purchase program supplies for our humane-education programs, including trolley carts and habitat enhancements for the education pets that we bring into classrooms through our Compassion in the Classroom program. These include small mammals, rabbits and reptiles. Additional funds supported overall humane-education operational costs, including ongoing program expenses such as our educators' time working with youth.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

This has allowed us to better serve more youth in our community through our humane-education programs. By purchasing key supplies and supporting educator costs, we were able to provide youth with a unique learning experiences that uses animals to enhance learning in the classroom and at our shelter.

How many pets did this grant help?

This humane-education grant helped 28,502 youth in the past year learn about how to be kind to animals through our youth humane-education programs. We estimate that youth and families who engage in our programs also go on to practice responsible pet ownership and adopt AHS shelter pets.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

This year, AHS expanded several of its education initiatives, including Reading Fur Fun (RFF), a literacy-based program aimed at improving children’s reading proficiency while providing shelter pets with enriching socialization. To increase program reach and help more pets in need, AHS hosted a collaborative Reading Fur Fun program with Stand for Children Arizona (SFCA), a nonprofit dedicated to educating parents, teachers and community members to advocate for children’s academic success.

Through RFF, youth and their parents, the majority of whom spoke only Spanish, engaged in literacy-based activities covering topics such as spaying/neutering, responsible pet ownership, compassion toward animals, and pet adoption. Families engaged with shelter pets and learned about the various ways pets come into the care of AHS. During these lessons, families and youth gained the skills and knowledge to advocate for pets in their community, many of which reside in AHS’ target zip codes for pet homelessness and neglect.

During the RFF program, children prepared stuffed Kong toys for shelter pets who would later lend their floppy ears to the avid readers. Shelter dogs sat patiently next to their young visitors while enjoying treats, a good story and, most importantly, affection. One such pet was Lady, a German shepherd mix rescued from a cruel home who had been awaiting her forever home since the end of September.

Found locked in a chain-link cage, underweight and with severely overgrown nails, Lady was denied the proper care and compassion she deserved from her former owners. While shy at first, Lady blossomed into an active, playful, and loving girl who enjoyed nothing more than some good belly rubs and giving sloppy kisses. Upon the arrival of her visitor, Lady immediately put her "listening ears" on and became emerged in stories of fantasy, adventure, and friendship. The affectionate and happy young pup has since been adopted by a wonderful family.

Lady, like many other shelter pets yearning for love, thoroughly enjoyed the attentiveness, warmth, and smiles she received from the young animal lovers. Simultaneously, the children gained a new appreciation for reading and furry friends in need.