Faithful Friends Animal Society: Build-A-Bear Youth Humane Education Grant
This grant award helped us to strengthen our relationship with our current partners and provide them with consistent visits. In addition, this award also supported our ability to create new relationships with schools and programs that were requesting these services to benefit children. We have provided educational presentations along with therapeutic visits from therapy dogs to the following schools since this award was given: Townsend Elementary School, Alfred G. Waters Middle School, St. Elizabeth Elementary School, Avon Grove High School; we also worked with several community groups, including Daisy Scouts. In addition, we were able to extend our in-shelter pet-therapy services, providing education and life-skills training through volunteering, to additional groups of children including students at the Delaware School for the Deaf.
Strengthening and expanding our outreach, specially the pet-therapy programs that benefited from this grant award, is an important part of our organization's mission. Our program goals include reaching out to the most vulnerable populations in our community to educate and bring them the benefits of companion animals. The grant award helps us to continue this important work, which puts a higher overall value on companion animals and therefore benefits all of the pets in our care.
The children we visit through our Pet Therapy Program outreach come from all backgrounds and walks of life. Some have experience with pets, but many have limited or even negative experiences. Through our presentations about Faithful Friends and the work we do to protect pets, as well as the therapeutic visit our therapy dogs and cats provide with the groups of children, we hope to positively affect their response to, relationships with and compassion toward animals in general. The effects of this are hard to measure, but for many, our visits are one of the limited number of times they have interacted with animals, and we know the importance of this.
Volunteers field questions from the children ranging from general pet care and welfare to specific questions about the pet who is present that day. We take the time to educate the children on how they can get involved, both now and in the future. Understanding that the child's ability or access to volunteerism via their home environment may be limited, we encourage and suggest ways the groups can work together to help local pets. Many groups have responded by having supply drives for the shelter, or making treats, toys, or thank-you cards that they can then provide to the shelter.