Meredith and I have a passion for Humane Education. We believe that we are creating better adults, not just making lives better for companion animals. I know there is some skepticism out there about what we do. There are any real studies or statistics to track what we do or our reach. But we get them in our jobs. We had two reminders this week.
I was teaching 2nd Grade Kindness at a school that we book every year. This means that my 2nd graders have seen me in Kinder and 1st for Dog Safety. We do it three years in a row, adding a bit each year so we are setting a firm foundation for these kids (we start them at Pre-K if the school has them). When I was done with my Kindness campaign and the kids had reviewed what they learned, I had a little boy raise his hand and say, "I remember you from last year." The whole class then proceeded to remind me what I had taught them the year before - leash, collar and grown-up owner; ask before you pet; say hello to the dog once you have permission...then they were standing like trees and rolling like rocks. I even had a little girl tell me, "I was always scared of my Tia's dog because she's big and very crazy, but it works when I just freeze. She goes away and chases my brothers instead." It's nice to get reminders that what we do is making a difference. This particular school has given us several - a parent who thanked me in her broken English last year because her daughter had come home to teach her, which came in handy that night when walking home from the store. Surrounded by big dogs, her daughter whispered, "Mama, hold still. Hold still." It took five minutes or so, but the dogs lost interest and wandered off. This is also the school where several of the students have come up to us excited because their parents "fixed" their dogs using the phone numbers we sent home.
Meredith was staffing a table at a community event in Inglewood. We've said repeatedly (and will continue to say it) that people are completely unaware of mandatory spay/neuter. We passed this law in 2008 and no one in the communities we go into has heard of it before they get our handouts. Not an effective law. For more on that, you can click here. Back to the reminder - the handouts that went out the most? WHY SPAY/NEUTER and LOW COST SPAY/NEUTER. We find over and over in these communities that people WANT to get their pets fixed. They lack the income and the resources. When we get them out there, they follow through and fix those pets. Unfortunatley, there are only so many people that we can reach with our handouts. If you don't have a child in the schools we teach, you don't live in the neighborhood we happen to be in that week, or you don't attend a community event that we are at, you won't be getting the handouts. Our reach is limited. We're glad to be able to reach the numbers that we do, but we need to do more. These communities need more outreach than a two person non-profit run on scarce donations can manage.
We have to celebrate these small victories - the dozens of people who come up to our table ASKING for spay/neuter numbers and the kids who remember the lessons that we taught them. These remind us why we do this, why Humane Education and community outreach are so very important.