Human Education Unleashed


Fall 2015

The Seattle Humane Society’s (SHC) mission doesn’t stop with providing shelter, food, and veterinary care for homeless cats and dogs while seeking new homes for them. The agency extends its circle of caring to teach animals and children alike how to be safer with each other.

Teaching Compassion

“Education is a big commitment” for Seattle Humane Society, says Jennifer Whitworth, the society’s education coordinator. “Humane education makes a lasting connection with the younger generation, nurturing compassionate, civic-minded individuals.” For the past several years, kids ages 13-17 have joined Humane Teen Club to learn about animal welfare and gain skills that will enable them to become volunteers when they turn 18. “We see a direct connection between the influence of young people on their families and the betterment of the treatment of animals in our community, says Rhonda Manville, SHC’s marketing vice president. SHC pays special attention to children with little or no experience with pets.

Teaching Each Other

A generous grant from the Subaru of America Foundation is helping to expand those offerings. At Preschool Pets, children ages 4 and 5 and their parents sing songs, hear stories, and make crafts, while they meet and learn about companion creatures like dogs, cats, and guinea pigs. The Kitty Literature program brings grade-schoolers in after school to read to shelter cats. “It helps the kids build confidence with reading aloud,” says Whitworth, while also socializing the cats in advance of their hoped-for adoption to new homes. Now Seattle Humane is rolling out Humane Education Unleashed, a middle-school animal welfare curriculum that wraps in lessons in science, math, and English. For Whitworth, who came to the shelter with degrees in psychology and social work, her job lets her pursue longtime ambitions to nurture young people into becoming caring, responsible adults. “I do believe there’s a huge connection between positive interaction with animals and positive people,” she says. At Seattle Humane Society, that connection grows stronger every day. 

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