Pet PEP--People and Pets Education Programme for Primary Schools--Australian Veterinary Association
Roger Clarke, BVSc, MRCVS, FACVSc, Registered Veterinary Specialist, Small Animal Surgery
Pet PEP is an education program developed by the Australian Veterinary Association. It involves veterinarians and teachers working together to teach primary school students about responsible pet ownership and to enhance their overall understanding of animals.
The PetPEP programme began in the Western Australian Division of the Australian Veterinary Association. The programme went through some teething problems but has now spread through all the States and Territories of Australia.
The programme is delivered to schools as a community service by the AVA and has several methods of delivery.
The primary part of Pet PEP consists of a teacher's resource book that contains worksheets, activities, websites, black line masters and industry contacts. It is an ideal resource when teaching a unit on Pets or Animals, or it can be used by teachers to integrate messages into other curriculum areas.
Pet PEP covers topics such as:
Behaving Safely Around Pets
Choosing the Right Pet
Being Responsible for a Pet
Preparing for a Pet
Caring for Your Pet's Health
Treating All Animals Well
The AVA has appointed some full and part time staff members to coordinate the programme and help its delivery. These people are usually school teachers. The program is receiving increasing support from vets and schools throughout Australia. Furthermore, it enables veterinarians, teachers and students to build relationships with many community and government organisations.
The programme is copyrighted by the AVA, but the Association is willing to help all veterinary associations with advice as to how to establish a similar programme.
The programme is aimed at students in the 5 to 11 year old age group, with the emphasis on 5 to 7 year old students.
The manual, published by the AVA to assist the teachers in delivering the programme, has black and white line pages that can be easily photocopied for use in the classroom.
Each section can be delivered to tie in with the school curriculum, so that a pet oriented subject can be used in almost every class. The units can also be taught as pet oriented stand-alone classes. For example, in the art section, colouring competitions with worthwhile prizes have proved very successful.
The scheme is funded by donations primarily from members of the AVA, although there is also assistance from several commercial companies.
Private practices are involved in school 'expo' days and veterinarians are encouraged to 'adopt' their local schools to assist in the programme. These vets and their nurses give their time freely.
Both veterinarians and the nursing staff can help in delivering the programme and the teachers can help by training the veterinarians in how to deliver material to very young children. It may be possible to involve the local media in attending pet expos and this raises awareness of the programme to the larger community.
Some examples of the material available can be viewed at this web site. http://www.petalia.com.au/templates/StoryTemplate_Process.cfm?Story_No=1574
I have included a couple of pages below:
Dealing with Strange dogs
It can be a bit scary when you come across a dog you don't know and it starts barking at you. Maybe it is wandering in the street or in the park or the owner simply isn't around. So what should you do? Here's some tips for kids on dealing with strange dogs from the Pets & People Education Program.
Do not try to pat the dog.
Stand still and wait for the dog to stop barking at you.
Do not try to make the dog go away by hitting or kicking it.
Lower your head and do not look at the dog.
Keep your hands by your sides and slowly back away.
Advantages of Dogs as Pets
Most dogs are loving pets.
They need space to play and exercise.
Small dogs need less room than big dogs.
They need exercise once or twice a day.
Dogs can get exercise in different ways, for example, by chasing a ball or going for a walk or a run.
All dogs need regular baths and grooming.
Short-haired dogs are easiest to groom.
Dogs like to be part of the family.
They are used to obeying a leader and can follow family rules.
All dogs can be trained; in fact, they enjoy it.
They can easily learn tricks.
Most dogs enjoy having company all the time.
Once they are taught to get along with other people and dogs they are very friendly.
They like to play with people and other dogs, even when they are older.
Dogs like to travel around and will quickly settle into a new place.
A dog around the house will provide protection by barking to tell you when strangers are coming.
Some dogs can also be trained to do work for you; for example, farm dogs help with herding animals.
Dogs are very loyal pets.
They need to spend time with their owners.
They reward their owners with lots of love.
All of the above statements can be used in teaching a class and the students can be made inter-active by asking them to participate and use their pets as examples. We do not encourage them to bring their pets to school during normal teaching as this becomes mayhem and very difficult to manage.
A similar sheet exists on cats.
Advantages of Cats as Pets
Most cats are easy pets to own.
They do not need to be taken for walks because they exercise themselves when they play.
Short-haired cats do not need much grooming.
All cats keep themselves very clean and tidy.
Cats do not need a lot of space.
They need to have places to climb, jump, hide in dark 'cubbies' and to explore.
They are happy to live in small homes.
Cats spend most of their time sleeping, particularly during the day.
Cats will often sleep while their owners are away, so that they can play when their owners get home.
Cats are not very big.
They are easy to handle, because most cats weigh about 4 kilograms.
Most cats like to be patted or stroked.
When they relax they purr, which also helps to relax their owner.
Many cats enjoy playing, even when they are quite old.
They like to play with balls of string and cat toys.
Cats are very graceful and light on their feet.
They usually do not break things around the house.
Cats like to have their own area to live in.
They do not like to travel, and take time to settle into new places.
Cats are friendly and like to be around humans.
But they still like to be independent, and do not learn tricks as easily as dogs.
Most of the worksheets also use cartoons and pictures to strengthen the message. The worksheet on avoiding dog bites from strange dogs is very important in all communities but is especially important where the stray animal population is high and diseases such as Rabies may be endemic.
The programme has proved very popular with schools and teachers and offers an invaluable opportunity to increase the profile of the veterinary profession in the teaching of good health, responsible pet ownership and animal welfare.
Keeping Healthy Around Pets
How do you live happily with pets and avoid catching diseases from them? Here's some tips for kids to keep healthy around pets from the Pets & People Education Program. How do you live happily with pets and avoid catching diseases from them? Here's some tips for kids to keep healthy around pets from the Pets & People Education Program. Avoiding Dog Bites
Do not let a pet lick your face.
Wash your face and hands after you've handled a pet, especially before you eat.
Keep pets away from food that you eat.
Do not let pets lick your food dishes or utensils. Pets should have their own food and water bowls.
Clean up pet droppings every day. Use a plastic bag or pooper scooper and wash your hands afterwards.
Worm your dog or cat regularly. Check with your vet about how and when to worm your pet.
Leave dogs alone when they are eating or are near their food.
Don't grab or cuddle a dog around the neck, as this can frighten it.
Don't surprise a sleeping dog.
Always ask the owner before you pat their dog.
Don't enter a strange dog's yard without the owner being present.
Don't play with any dog unless the owner is watching.
Don't play with a dog with a litter of puppies, especially while the mother is still feeding them.
Take care not to get dogs over-excited when you play with them.