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August 27, 2008 > Ohlone Humane Society: Don't just be a "summer buddy"

Ohlone Humane Society: Don't just be a "summer buddy"

By Nancy Lyon

Where did the summer go? Our cat-adoring 12-year-old granddaughter who was visiting for the summer has gone back to Hawaii, and school; now there is one small furry being in our household that is missing the constant attention.

Our situation isn't unique, kids have had several months to give extra time and company to the family critter and it's tough on them to suddenly no longer be the center of attention. Especially if your buddy leaves and you don't understand why they are suddenly gone.

If yours is a soon to be lonely four-legged friend who has gotten used to spending extra fun time at the local school yard or park, it's understandable that given the opportunity, he or she may decide to go there looking for company.

Now is the time to start tapering off adventuring there and taking more on leash walks closer to home. Even with the added time needed for homework and after school activities, children and parents need to remember that their animal friend is still in need of adequate exercise and companionship. They can't just be placed on hold until time allows.

An added danger is that not unlike "Mary's Little Lamb," these loyal companions may decide on a dangerous course of action and try and follow their buddy to school. Many of our animal friends will naturally want to be with the kids and think of following them - or be innocently encouraged to tag along and may become lost.

Even if they should make it all the way, animals on school yards are often seen as a nuisance and potential hazard. This could get them into serious trouble, ending up in the local animal shelter or being chased away into dangerous traffic.

It's a pretty good reason to keep your animal companion safely confined when kids are leaving for school, and if you drive your children to school, don't be tempted to take your dog with you. Never forget that animals are intelligent, learn quickly, and may attempt to find their own way to school later on.

Always keep identification tags on them with a current home and work phone number. If he or she turns up missing, immediately check with the school and your local animal shelter. By doing something as simple as this - and not waiting for them to come home - you could save their life and hefty fees for bailing them out of the shelter.

The start of the school year moves us to remind teachers and school administrators that Ohlone Humane Society (OHS) is proud to serve as a financial sponsor of the Adopt-A-Teacher program in Fremont, Newark and Union City.

Each year in the spring, our Humane Education program offers elementary schools a free subscription to the KIND (Kids in Nature's Defense) News, an award winning monthly classroom newspaper and lesson program designed for children in grades K-6 and published by the National Association for Humane and Environmental Education (NAHEE), the Youth Education branch of Humane Society of the United States.

Through stories, activities and photographs, KIND News teaches the value of kindness and respect for one another, animals and the environment. KIND News also encourages reading and non-violent problem solving skills, with activities that can be incorporated into lessons across the curriculum.

KIND News not only fights against cruelty to animals, but also battles against child abuse. Research has indicated that there is a link between the mistreatment of animals and the abuse of children. Helping children to discuss their "pet's" mistreatment may alert a teacher to a child at risk of abuse, and children are often more open to discussing the abuse of a pet than their own mistreatment.

Included are projects that promote self-esteem and community involvement which help to teach children that their actions, no matter how small, do make difference. OHS, through the KIND News, hopes to create a compassionate future for animals and children, and a concern for our environment.

We have been proud to sponsor more than 40 local classrooms each year and encourage teachers to check out the programs and sign up next spring when we approach schools offering our support.

Elementary school teachers and administrators may review the KIND News program on the NAHEE website at www.nahee.org. Contact OHS at (510)792-4587 or via our website www.ohlonehumanesociety.org for information on program participation.

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