Ways Shelters Can Involve Kids with Helping Homeless Pets

Coordinate activities for kids such as:

Include kids (and parents) at pet adoptions at local events, pet stores, etc.

Give them jobs to do and get them involved.

Coordinate contests in the school system, in churches, through the newspaper, etc. on raising the most money, donating the most pet food, etc. for your shelter.

Offer an education program for the local schools

Work with your school district to visit the schools with humane education programs and take along adoptable pets.

Or, partner with your school district to include a trip to your shelter as a field trip for the kids. Let them see animals being surrendered as well as more pleasant situations such as walking dogs.

Conduct focus groups for kids

Companies often conduct focus groups of their target market to find out what their customers want. From this information, they develop new products, marketing strategies, etc.

Rather than guess what kids will respond to or continue doing what’s been done in the past, conduct a focus group of 10 to 12 kids to find out what kinds of activities are of interest to them. Consider groups based on age such as kids age 6 to 8, 9 to 12, and 13 -16. Questions could include:

  • What activities could the shelter sponsor that you’d like to attend?
  • What contests sound like fun?
  • Would you like to participate in the pet adoption process? How? In the shelter? At adoption booths at community events, etc?
  • What should we sponsor within the school system, churches, and/or community to include kids?
  • Would you like to participate in naming our adoptable pets? Would you be willing to come with your parents to the shelter periodically to help name animals?
  • Name three events and/or activities for animals that sound the most fun for you.
  • For your friends who aren’t concerned about homeless pets, why is that? What can we do to change that?

Kids participating in these focus groups and parents who encourage their participation may become champions for animals. Maintain contact via email and keep them informed of future events and continue to ask for their input.

Establish a kids’ board of directors

Appoint a group of kids, perhaps from your focus groups described above, to serve on a kids’ board. Set up monthly meetings and get their input on ways to involve kids, activities you can sponsor, classes of interest, etc. These kids can become animal advocates and leaders in their schools.

How can you reach kids?

Post flyers or ads at schools, churches, after-school community and recreation centers, newspaper sections directed to kids (print and online), veterinarian’s offices, boarding facilities, etc. Include photos of pets in any ads or flyers.

Partner with other groups who work with kids

For example, story hours at your local library could include books about animals. Have a couple of adoptable pets there to participate. After school recreation centers need programs; coordinate a humane education class there. Perhaps groups such as Rotary clubs, Chamber of Commerce, etc have annual events for kids. Find ways to participate.

Add kids’ activities to your website

  • Have a contest for naming animals.
  • Offer downloadable computer “wallpaper” with animal photos and your logo. Tailor the photos and copy to kids’ interests. For example, offer a photo of a puppy with a copy such as “let your friends know I need a home.”

See Ways Kids Can Help for more ideas on helping kids help animals.

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