If fourth grade is going to the dogs, at least one group in Bladen County is glad to hear it, and they’re awaiting the public’s invitation to make it more widespread.
The Bladen County Pet Responsibility Team was founded in 2014 by Jane King when she noticed two disturbing societal trends.
“People in general just don’t know how to show respect any more,” said King. “In addition, dynamics are different these days — children used to have chores and responsibilities, and it’s just not that way anymore.
“I thought, ‘What can we do to make a difference so that we turn the tide? If we do the same thing over and over, we’ll get the same results, so let’s try something different,” she added. “What can we do to help them become more compassionate, kind, respectful, and responsible?’”
King, who is an animal lover, has long harbored a passion for humane education. In addition, she has had one of her own dogs trained as a therapy dog and took a counselling class in order to minister to others through animals.
“Animals are a resource God has given us,” she said, “and they can be used to make man’s life better in so many ways, but they’re one of our most untapped resources.”
When King came across Moore County’s Pet Responsibility Team program, the pieces fell into place. She saw a program that would utilize pets as well as teach children about taking care of them, while instilling character values like responsibility, respect, and kindness. Fellow animal lovers Dawn Benner, Joan Marion, Mary Jones, Kathy Taylor, Wanda Ezzell, Dawn Polk, and Krista Hensen joined King to establish the Bladen County arm of the Pet Responsibility program.
The six-week, award-winning program, designed by educators and complete with online lesson plans that incorporate N.C state standards, targets fourth grade classrooms. Lessons include such topics as feeding and exercising, the costs involved in pet ownership, and responsible pet population control.
“Part of being a responsible pet owner is knowing whether or not you have money to buy food or a yard big enough, and there is responsible breeding,” said King.
King said her group’s goal is to have the program in every fourth grade class in Bladen County, but for that they need two things: invitations and helpers.
“We need people with a passion,” said King, “maybe educators that are retired that are also animal lovers — anybody that would enjoy educating people about pets.”
Presenters are needed, as well as people to run the technology for the program. Volunteers would need to be able to give an hour or two of their time for a six-week period.
To volunteer with the group or to schedule the program for your school or class, contact Jane King at 874-3249 or Dawn Benner at 876-7688.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.