Pets Have Needs Too
Explore animal welfare through literature and analysis of wants and needs of people and pets.
- Compare needs and wants for people and animals.
- Speak up for the responsible care of animals, as an act of generosity.
- needs: something useful or necessary: food, water, shelter
- wants: something desired but not essential to growth or survival
- animal welfare: treating animals with kindness and respect, caring for their needs
Discuss with families what they have learned about pets and animal needs. If there is a pet at home, list what their pet needs and how the family members help take care of the pet.
- Bix, Daisy. Buddy Unchained. 2006. The Gryphon Press. Edina, MN. ISBN-10: 0-940719-01-0
- Verdick, Elizabeth Tails Are Not for Pulling. 2005. Free Spirit Publishing. Minneapolis, MN. ISBN: 1-57542-181-X
Read aloud Buddy Unchained by Daisy Bix. This literature guide provides before, during, and after questions and some activities to do to advocate for humane animal treatment.
Or, read aloud Tails Are Not for Pulling by Elizabeth Verdick. This literature guide provides questions and activities to accompany the reading.
Discuss the definitions of wants and needs (see Vocabulary above). Write the definitions and refer back to them during the discussions.
Discuss the following:
- Do humans have needs, if so, what are they? (yes, food, water, shelter)
- Do you have wants? (Yes, toys, new clothes, going to sporting events, etc.)
- Can animals tell you all of their needs and wants? If so, how? (Yes, some dogs will go and get their leash or scratch on a door to ask to go outside, stand by their empty water bowl, gerbils hide when they want to be alone, cats meow when they are hungry).
Define animal welfare as "treating animals with kindness and respect." Ask: When we feed and give water to our pets are we acting with kindness and respect? Discuss what else pets and people need/want that cannot be bought at a store, such as family love and attention including time, care, gentle touch, trust. Discuss whether this is a need or want, and why.
Make and display on the board or on a virtual whiteboard a large Venn diagram with two intersecting circles labelled "Human Needs and Wants" and "Pet Needs and Wants." As a group, discuss examples and write them in the circles, some examples go where the circles intersect, and some might go outside both circles (no one needs or wants neglect). Talk about the ideas written in the Venn diagram and what they can learn from this discussion.
Explain that there are many pets who are not treated with kindness and respect. That may be because people don't know how, they adopted a pet they don't have time for, or they didn't realize how much work it would be and they lost interest.
Discuss what shelters and pet shops can do to make sure pets go home to good homes. You may call a local place to ask. At the same time, ask if they have any needs that young people can help address.
Discuss one small thing we can do to show generosity for animals' needs in our community. This may include a service project, such as the following:
- make a video that tells younger children how to treat a new pet (and bring joy to the animal and the pet owner)
- make homemade items (food, toys, or blankets) for pets that haven't been adopted yet
- design flyers for adoptable pets that tell about their traits and how to care for them
- write a picture book that tells how to care for animals and sharing it in the community
- other ideas that come from a nonprofit that cares for the welfare of animals or pets
Sample Venn diagram
Read about the service-learning project called Helping Hounds by students who were taught using this Pets Have Needs Too lesson to guide student learning and action.
Ms. Eisenson is a 1st grade teacher who said, "by doing community service in school, students can then transfer new skills and ideologies independently outside the classroom."
Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
Benchmark E.2 Explain the difference between wants and needs.