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January 17, 2011

A Cause for Paws: Be a Mentor

Miss Dog Rescue Bucket 8/2010

Mindy Gilbert/The HSUS

As part of A Cause for Paws, teach younger students about dog care and what they can do about puppy mills.  

1. Ask teachers you know if you can speak to his or her class, or contact a school's main office. Explain that you are working on a service-learning project to help students learn about proper dog care and puppy mills.

Set up a date and time that works for you and the class and put together a brief (15 to 20 minute) presentation using basic points you learned. Practice your presentation in front of friends or relatives. (If you want more advice on presenting, take our free online course). Before the day of your talk, go over your points with the class's teacher to make sure it's age-appropriate.  

2. Plan a fun activity: Don't plan to simply stand up before the class and lecture. Engage the students with visuals and interactive activities.  

For example, draw a large picture of a dog and other pictures representing the things dogs need to be healthy and happy—food, water, shelter, veterinary care, grooming, training, exercise, toys, bedding, and love and attention. Cut out the dog care items and ask students to come up and tape the most important items around the dog (e.g., a food bowl in front of him). Discuss with students why each item is important. 

A stuffed dog and actual dog care items that can be placed on or around it also works well. Consider holding up a large photo of a dog in a puppy mill to show the students and ask them whether that dog is receiving proper care.

For materials you can pass out to students, see our puppy mill factsheet for kids. Make sure you have all the materials you'll need for each student beforehand. You can also print Puppy Buying Tips and flyers from humanesociety.org/puppymills for the students and teacher.

3. Before you leave the students, ask them to fill out a survey, including questions like: What did you learn today? When it comes to animals, will you do anything differently from now on? If so, what? What was your favorite part of this lesson?

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