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Pets In Classroom Exceeds 2010 Goal

More pets are in classrooms thanks to the Pets In The Classroom program by The Pet Care Trust.

By The SmallAnimalChannel News Division
Posted: February 3, 2011, 3:15 p.m. EST

children with classroom pet
© Courtesy of The Pet Care Trust
The Pet Care Trust, through its Pets in the Classroom program, awarded more than 2,000 teachers with grants in 2010. The grants are used to either purchase or help care for a classroom pet.

The Pet Care Trust, a Bel Air, Maryland-based nonprofit that aims to promote the value of the human-animal bond, reported on February 2, 2011, that its Pets in the Classroom program saw “surprising” growth in 2010, the program’s first full year in operation.

The program awarded 2,066 grants to teachers for classroom pets in 2010 for a grand total of nearly $264,000. The initial goal for the program was 700 grants.

“Clearly there was pent-up demand for pets in the classroom, and once it became more widely known that this money was available, that’s when we started to see tremendous growth in the program,” said Steven King, The Pet Care Trust executive director.

The program, which is a spinoff of the Trust’s Fish in the Classroom program, provides grants of up to $150 to grade school teachers. Teachers are encouraged to purchase pets and supplies locally and to establish a relationship with a local pet store. Some pet stores may sponsor the pet and classroom.

Teachers have always been interested in having pets in the classroom, King said, because pets create a more exciting learning environment, help teachers illustrate various subject lessons and can be used to award good behavior and help encourage children to be more responsible. However, he noted, school districts don’t necessarily have the funds to pay for classroom pets, and the money usually comes out of the teachers’ pockets.

“The Pet Care Trust wanted to remove that impediment by having these direct grants available to the teacher,” King said.

He said the Trust has noticed that grant requests often come from a cluster of teachers in a particular state or even a particular area of a state.

“So we know that once a teacher in an area learns about the program and has a good experience, they tell their colleagues,” King said. “We’re seeing a kind of organic growth.”

Since its official launch in January 2010, Pets in the Classroom has funded the following classroom pet requests:
Aquariums: 761
Reptiles: 435
Small Animals: 737
Birds: 93
Sustaining: 40 (These grants help teachers who already have a classroom pet pay for food and supplies).

The Pet Care Trust hopes to award an additional 2,000 classroom grants in 2011. As the program expands, it plans to rely on direct financial support from the pet industry.

To help The Pet Care Trust reach its goal, the Crazy Pet Children’s Foundation has awarded the Pets in the Classroom program a $5,000 grant.

The Crazy Pet Children’s Foundation, founded by Cardinal Laboratories Inc. president, Tony de Vos, awards grants twice yearly to other nonprofit organizations that operate pet-child programs and promote the “Back Bones of Character.” The Back Bones of Character are: Be Caring, Contribute, Have Courage, Be Dependable, Be Fair and Have Respect. These character values are developed by children in the process of caring for pets, according to the foundation.

“Support from organizations like the Crazy Pet foundation will allow us to serve even more teachers and students nationwide, providing the educational and psychological benefits of having a classroom pet,” King said.

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