As pet owners and parents, it’s important that we teach children that pets are family members. While it is unreal to expect kids to be completely responsible for a pet’s well-being and care, it is possible to teach them what it means to be a good pet owner, how to humanely treat animals, and how to give and receive affection properly.
One of the many ways we can begin to show children how to be kind to animals can be through the Boy and Girl Scout programs. Aside from the many skills and socializing that takes place in these organizations, pet care can be one of them.
On the Boy Scouts website, there are requirements that are specific to earning a Dog Care Badge. Some of the requirements listed are:
- Explain the importance of house-training, obedience training, and socializing a dog.
- Explain what “responsible pet ownership” means.
- Take care of the family dog for 2 months – feed, walk, exercise, train, and assist with other care.
- Explain the correct method for teaching basic commands such as sit, stay, down, and drop it.
- Discuss proper ways to prevent fleas, ticks, and other parasites from affecting your dog.
- Explain benefits of grooming a dog.
- Visit a vet or animal shelter and write a report about it.
- Know the laws and ordinances pertaining to dogs in the community.
In many cities and counties, shelters and humane rescue organizations are teaming up with the scouts and helping to create a program that helps the children earn their pet care badge. For example, in Santa Cruz, the SPCA and the Girl Scouts of Monterey Bay award a Pet Care Badge to those who complete classes pertaining to the responsibility in caring for pets. The girl scouts are taught about the importance of being kind, compassionate, and making good choices in how pets are cared for in homes.
The Humane Society of Broward County in Florida has a “No Bones About It” Girl Scout Patch Program that was started in 1998. There are four levels of patches and each level teaches the needs of pets, how to do our part in controlling pet population, and the importance of proper identification on pets, as well as how to care for a pet.
In general, the requirements for earning a Dog Care Badge or a Pet Care Badge revolve around the following important points:
- Assisting in the care of a pet, the family pet, or perhaps a neighbor or friend’s for a certain duration to get a more hands on feel for what it means to be a pet owner.
- Creating a report or documentation of what it was like to partake in the day to day activities of pet care.
- Answering and researching questions about how to properly care for a pet, how to care for an injured pet, why socialization is important, what animals make good pets, and how to interact appropriately with a pet.
- Learning what the various body language cues from a pet can mean and how to act/react to it.
- Being a good citizen and learning how to help in the community to curb the pet overpopulation problem as well as volunteering with pet organizations.
If your child is in the Boy or Girl Scouts and has the opportunity to earn a pet badge, why not go for it? If your particular division does not offer it, talk to the organizers and urge for it. Your kids and you may enjoy the activities and it will be a good bonding experience for everyone, including the family pet!
image via the Girl Scouts Of Greater Atlanta Store