Collaboration produces pet ownership curriculum

Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) and Hearts United for Animals (HUA) in Auburn, Nebraska, collaborated on a new curriculum to teach students in grades 3-8 about pet ownership.  HUA raised the funds and LPS raised the awareness.

According to Kathie Phillips, coordinator from Saratoga Elementary School CLC, the project was a "collaborative effort among a variety of groups."  In addition to HUA, collaborators included the CLC (Community Learning Centers) Neighborhood Action Team in partnership with the Stronger-Safer Neighborhoods Program through the Mayor's Office, Allison Hunter-Frederick from Campbell Elementary School who wrote the plays, Carol Svoboda from Lincoln Southeast High School who worked with her drama students to record the plays and the Dawes CLC Theatre II Club.

The purpose of the new curriculum is to teach students "about the importance of responsible pet ownership and the need to be good stewards for the welfare of our animal friends," explained Phillips.  The HUA will offer the curriculum free-of-charge of the Web site:

Hunter-Frederick will write a series of eight plays covering specific topics, such as preparing to be a pet owner, shop vs. adopt, spay/neuter, etc.  The plays feature 12 animal puppets that live in a magical animal shelter where physical and emotional healing take place.  One play entitled "Pick Me!" addresses responsible adoption.  Phillips will develop 8 to 10 activities to support the specific topics addressed in the plays.

Meetings between CLC and the Mayor's Office focused on the subject of animal cruelty, neglect and death ... particularly in Lincoln's older neighborhoods.  The partnership supported the development of the curriculum and educating youth as a key to changing behavior.

Phillips concludes, "There is so much animal neglect and cruelty, and the puppy mill industry is the animal version of the Holocaust.  We know it is difficult to change the beliefs of adults, but through education and outreach, we can hope to shape the beliefs and values of children in hopes that they will create a brighter future for animals."

Published: June 8, 2009, Updated: June 8, 2009