Paws Up For Pets
Paws Up For Pets is an innovative education program that engages local youth to promote compassion and accountability for animals and empathy in the community as a whole. A partnership with United Boys & Girls Clubs, Paws Up For Pets works mainly with children K-6 enrolled in afterschool programs in our county's most underserved areas. We empower youth to make a difference by showing others that they care about animals and by speaking up against abuse and bullying. Because when we teach children empathy, we build caring communities.
Paws Up For Pets was created in response to several incidents of severe animal cruelty in Santa Barbara County and the knowledge that too few cruelty cases are reported—despite the proven connection between animal abuse and domestic violence. When you show children how to be respectful and kind to animals, the ripple effects are endless. Children feel empowered, and are less likely to harm a pet, hurt a friend or bully a classmate. And they bring these values into adulthood.
That's how Paws Up For Pets was born and now we work with afterschool facilities countywide, including United Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA and Girls, Inc., as well as local schools and girl scout troops.
Badges and awards
Through weekly workshops and special activities, children learn about critical animal welfare topics, such as what it takes to a be compassionate pet caretaker, the importance of providing veterinary care and spaying/neutering, why animals end up homeless, animal abuse, and that all animals are individuals, just like us humans. They have the opportunity to become role models for others and earn Paws Up badges at four levels.
To earn an Animal Ambassador badge, children are asked to:
Participate in a Paws Up for Pets PowerPoint presentation. about animals and what it takes to be a compassionate pet caretaker.
Take a 10-question quiz based on the presentation.
Bring home and share with family members animal welfare materials from C.A.R.E.4Paws that include information about proper pet care, anti-abuse, spaying/neutering, and more.
Interview a family member or neighbor about their view of compassionate pet care and turning in a short summary of the answers. A template will be provided.
Participate in C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Paws Up for Pets Youth Contest by creating an art project or poem on the topic of “Animals have feelings, just like us!” See below for more information.
To earn an Animal Advocate badge, students participate in a tour of a local animal shelter to learn how the shelter operates and see ﬁrsthand what happens when a family decides to give up a pet. After the visit, children can choose to virtually adopt a shelter pet and create a project about the animal. Or, as an alternative, students can research and write about the topic of “all pets are individuals.” All children will be paired up with a mentor that helps them with their project.
Children who go above and beyond to promote animal welfare and responsible pet ownership, or stand up for an animal by reporting abuse or neglect, for example, will have the opportunity to earn an Animal Hero badge, and get an award from local city officals. These awards will be given out annually and will involve press coverage and other forms of recognition for the Animal Heroes.
The Animal Leader badge is given to students who have completed the Animal Ambassador and Advocate badges and are interested in becoming Paws Up for Pets mentors for new students. The leaders will be working closely with C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Youth Program Director and after-school program staff to support other children working to complete badges one and two.
Paws Up For Pets aims to:
Inspire a greater sense of compassion and respect for animals and other living beings.
Empower children to speak up about neglect and abuse and to feel safe in doing so. When children (and adults) report animal abuse, they could save more than one life.
Share information about the pet wellness services C.A.R.E.4Paws offers, many of them in our own mobile veterinary clinic, to ensure pets stay happy, healthy and with their families for life.
Create awareness around shelter pets and the need for rescue/adoption. Through our shelter tours—more children will understand what happens when a family gives up a pet.