Cat Depot: Build-A-Bear Youth Humane Education Grant
We used the grant for our Parent and Me program, allowing children to learn about animals together with a parent and preparing them to volunteer and work with the cats as a team. The money was used for educational material, staff time, volunteer shirts, name tags, and a new mascot called Cali the Calico. The mascot is ear-tipped and has been used during the children's training, for tabling events, and to educate about free-roaming cats and TNVR. Please see this video of her unveiling: youtu.be/6Wf0WdHxto0rnrn
One of the parents sent us this: "I just wanted to let you know Michael and I have really enjoyed everything you and your wonderful staff/volunteers have been teaching us these past few weeks. It’s been such a great learning experience as well as a very enjoyable activity. Everyone was so informative and courteous to us."
The grant helped us reach out to the community. The plight of pets in the U.S. today is a problem with roots deep in society, and any effort to improve the situation as a whole must start with educating the new generations. The grant helped us reach young people and their families, giving an opportunity to teach them about handling animals, empathy, and cats' instincts and needs. Now these children and and their families know more, and they can spread the knowledge to their friends, to their friends' families, and even in their schools. We hope to continue the "Parent and Me" program for years to come; each new animal advocate can make a huge difference. The pets in our care have benefited from an opportunity to get to know children, which in turn makes them more adoptable. They have gotten socialization and entertainment, and most of the parent-and-me teams will go on to volunteer, helping the cats on a regular basis.
We have an average of 140 cats in the building. During the program, some were adopted and new ones came in. I'd estimate around 200.
Athena is currently our longest-term resident. She has greatly enjoyed the visits from the children -- you can see her playing in the photo (she is the tortoiseshell cat in the foreground). The Parent and Me program and all the extra company and attention have helped her overcome some of her shyness. Meet Athena: www.petfinder.com/petdetail/37249019