PIJAC

Habitattitude - Educators

Do right by your pet.
Do right by our environment.

HabitattitudeTM is a proactive campaign designed to:

  • Ensure that pets are thoughtfully chosen and well cared for (Habits)
  • Protect the natural environment (Habitats) from the impacts of unwanted pets
  • Help pet owners find alternatives to the release of their pets (Attitudes)

Pets are popular additions to the classroom. They fascinate and entertain, and can become "teachers" themselves . Having a pet in the classroom is, however, a significant responsibility for teachers. Pets in your classroom need time, attention, and financial investments that are often above and beyond your required duties and budget. It is up to you to ensure that the animals receive the necessary care, and that you create a safe and enjoyable environment for both the students and the pets.\

 

CHOOSING THE RIGHT PET FOR YOUR CLASSROOM

The first step in responsible classroom pet care is to consider what kind of pet is most appropriate before bringing an animal into the school environment. Discuss options with local veterinarians, animal breeders, pet store staff, and friends with pets. There are many helpful books, magazines, and websites that will help you choose the pet that is compatible with your classroom. Do your homework and consider the following when deciding which pet is right for your classroom:

  • the animal’s particular needs and behaviors, including
    • future size of the pet and housing needs
    • sanitation and daily care requirements
    • specialized feeding needs of the companion animal
  • the age of the students
  • school schedules (including long holiday breaks)
  • your available time
  • your budget

The following resources will help you make a well-informed decision:

While there are many animals that make excellent pets at home, but only some types of animals make good classroom pets. Do your homework!

 

RESPONSIBLE PET PLACEMENT

Teachers might find themselves faced with the need to locate a new home for a pet.

  • What do you do with the animal over summer break?
  • What happens if a child develops allergies, is fearful of animals, or is injured?
  • What if school policies on classroom pets change?
  • What if your classroom pets produce too many offspring or grow too large and costly?
  • Who will adopt the chicks hatched at Easter or the tadpoles raised from eggs?

Setting classroom pets free by releasing them into the wild is not a solution for these concerns. For pets, this “freedom” is often a traumatic experience. They might not be able to find adequate food or shelter or may become vulnerable to other animals, or vehicle traffic. The native wildlife and fish that already live in these habitats are faced with new threats from predators, competitors, or disease. Every former pet that survives in the natural environment does so by consuming wild animals or plants and competing with them for other resources, such as shelter. In short, some abandoned pets can become invasive species.

If you or someone you know is faced with needing to find a new home for a pet, please read the following Pet Placement Guidelines in order to make the best possible decision for the animal.

 

PET PLACEMENT GUIDELINES (ALTERNATIVES TO RELEASE)

  • Contact a local pet store for suggestions on placement or for possible returns
  • Give to a responsible family member, friend, pet owner/water gardener, or school if they are ready for a new pet
  • Donate to or trade with a local hobbyist club (i.e.: reptile society)
  • Surrender through a "pet amnesty" program and check with local shelters or rescues to see if they accept the species
  • Contact veterinarian for guidance about humane euthanasia of animals as a last resort
  • Seal aquarium/terrarium plants in plastic bags and dispose of them in the trash

Releasing your pet into the natural environment puts your companion animal and the environment at risk. In many locations, it is illegal to release your pet into the natural environment.