While shelters have offered children and teens general humane education for about 50 years, in the past few decades, more programs like PAWS have been popping up, teaching children or teens through special summer events, camps or volunteering. Many parents and shelter staff say the programs help nurture a better sense of responsibility and compassion for animals.
“I think my kids really only see these animals from afar, so it was able to make it more real for them by literally bringing things closer to them,” said Sarah Kuerner, the boys’ mom. “It’s something they can understand now. … It really helps connect the dots.”
“We’re really trying to teach those kids, especially that caring for animals goes beyond the basics of food, shelter and water, and that spending time with them and giving them enrichment is also important,” said Amelia Curtis, education manager at the San Diego Humane Society.