PAWS Aims to Educate Children about Proper Animal Care
November 19, 2010—Basseterre, St. Kitts—The PAWS (People for Animal Welfare on St. Kitts) community organization, directed by Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine students, recently visited Irish Town Primary School to teach students the importance of proper care and treatment of animals. The team, lead by, Kristen Lee, third semester student and PAWS education outreach coordinator, created a program to educate students in Ms. Dawn Dore’s third grade class about pet companionship and animal safety.
“The goal is not simply to educate the students about how to care for pets, but to also get the children excited about animals since there are so many that we share this island with in St. Kitts,” said Lee. “By teaching children how to treat animals well, we hope they will also learn to treat each other well.”
Lee’s responsibility as education coordinator is to organize the lesson plan and contact school officials to determine a date to host the presentation. The goal is to continue visiting these schools to create a consistent message to the children. In the last year, PAWS has visited more than six classes and worked with students from five to twelve years old. Three other PAWS members April Gessner, Maria Racioppo, and Chelsea Spring, also third semester students, joined Lee for the session.
With pet photos in hand, the group walked into the classroom to be greeted by Ms. Dore and about fifteen elated third grade students. The team began the presentation by introducing the students to the PAWS organization, while connecting with the children by explaining that they, too, are also students, just students who are learning to be doctors of animals. The large group of children is then divided into small groups so that each educator may create a more personalized approach to the learning experience. Leaders discuss the difference between a pet and an animal, followed by a discussion of how to take proper care a pet.
“A pet is like a friend and should be treated with affection, that means we love them and care for them so that they can be healthy,” said Lee.
The group also discussed the importance of cleanliness and proper feeding of animals. Water bowls should be clean and refreshed each day, especially with the warm climate in St. Kitts. Dogs and cats should be fed the proper food, designed for animals. Do not feed animals chocolate or caffeine or bones from fish, meat, or poultry. The children were also encouraged to keep the pet and its “sleeping area” clean so that the animal doesn’t bring “bad bugs,” such as ticks and fleas, into the home.
Many members of the St. Kitts community are scared or intimidated by animals. PAWS members stress the importance of animal safety and how to properly approach a dog. The first step is to look at the signals the dog is providing. Is it waging its tail and have relaxed ear? If so, the dog is showing signs of happiness. If the dog is growling, showing its teeth and its tail is straight up, then it may be angry. The most important item to remember is to not approach a dog you do not know.
“We are grateful to be a part of this island and we hope to help create awareness about the proper care for animals and at the same time, PAWS wants to be respectful of how people in St. Kitts share the island with these animals and the culture.” said Lauren Deahl, president of PAWS and sixth semester student. “This is why we believe the education program for the children is important for future generations.”
PAWS not only seeks to educate the community of St. Kitts about animal treatment, the organization has a network of students and faculty who act as fosters to the stray animals in St. Kitts who do not have homes. In foster care, the animals are provided a loving, safe environment and are given the proper food and water, medical care and are spayed or neutered. Once the animals are deemed healthy enough for adoption, PAWS hosts an adoption day on the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine campus to assist the animal in finding a caring home.
PAWS will be visiting two additional groups of students in the St. Kitts primary schools before year-end and will be hosting an adoption day, which is open to the public, on Saturday, November 27. The organization is always looking for volunteers to assist with community education and animal fostering, if you are interested, please visit www.rosspaws.com.
PAWS (People for Animal Welfare on St. Kitts) was started in December 2000 through the collaboration of a group of veterinary students at Ross University and concerned residents of St. Kitts, West Indies. The organization is committed to educating the St. Kitts community about the welfare and treatment of animals as well as trying to find animals caring homes. The organization also provides assistance to the people of St. Kitts by offering cost assisted medical care at the Ross University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, providing animal care education and caring for stray animals. PAWS is non-profit organization and relies on volunteers, various fundraisers and donations to ensure the success of the program.
About Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine
Ross University is a provider of medical and veterinary education, offering doctor of medicine and doctor of veterinary medicine degree programs. Founded in 1982 and located in St. Kitts, the School of Veterinary Medicine is affiliated with 22 AVMA-accredited US veterinary schools where students complete their clinical year. The University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital is the only facility outside the US and Canada accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association. Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine is committed to improving the well being of people and animals in the St. Kitts and Nevis community through service, education and research.