Caring for Those Amazing Animals

6, 7, 8

The purpose of this lesson is to expose the learners to beliefs and attitudes about the treatment of animals, especially applied to sports and entertainment.  In this lesson the learners will understand how laws, and attitudes and beliefs concerning animal welfare, affect personal responses to animal treatment. They will determine how these laws, attitudes and beliefs affect the manner in which performing animals are trained and treated.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne 45 to 50 minute class period

The learner will:

  • identify and articulate attitudes and beliefs about the treatment of animals.
  • identify and articulate how differing attitudes and beliefs affect the use of animals insports and entertainment.
  • recognize how these attitudes and beliefs affect how animals are trained and treated.
  • define and articulate the meaning of humane treatment.
  • investigate and formulate his/her personal attitudes and beliefs about animal welfare.
  • investigate the Animal Welfare Act and Animal Cruelty Laws in his/her state.
  • A judge’s gavel, balance scale, or similar courtroom paraphernalia
  • 8-10 Copies of Handout One: Animal Cruelty Cases or Not? Cut apart
  • Copies of Handout Two: Three Basic Attitudes/Beliefs About Animals for each learner.
  • Copies of Handout Three: Ten Facts about State Animal Cruelty Laws or The Animal Welfare Act for each learner.

Animal Biographies: [no longer available] [no longer available]

Animal Cruelty Laws by State 

Animal Welfare Act [no longer available] 
 The Animal Welfare Information Center,

For additional related topics and materials see: 


  1. Anticipatory Set: As the learners enter the classroom, have on display a judge’s gavel, balance scale, “judge’s robe,” or any other items that would help give the illusion of entering a courtroom. Display the writing responses from the previous lesson for the class to see, and announce that often people have different opinions on issues such as animal welfare and animal cruelty. Situations that seem to be obvious to some might not be so to others. Tell the class that today they will be asked to serve as “jurors,” They will decide three different cases to determine if these cases should be considered animal cruelty cases or not.

  2. Randomly distribute the cases cut from Handout One, balancing the number of learners responsible for each case. Assign the three different “juries” to a designated area in the classroom. Tell them to read their case and reach consensus as to whether or not their case could be considered one of animal cruelty or not.

  3. Allow 10-15 minutes for this deliberation.

  4. Have each jury assign a spokesperson who will read the case to the rest of the class and announce their “verdict.”

  5. Between readings allow 2-3 minutes for the class to respond to the jury’s ruling.

  6. Teacher Note: There may not be any one “right” answer in each of these cases so more than likely there will be some differing of opinions. Allow some time for the learners to appropriately express these opinions.

  7. Once “verdicts” have been reached in each of these cases, ask the “jurors” if they found their decisions easy or difficult to make. Why or why not?

  8. Tell them that decisions like these, if not covered by law, are based on attitudes and beliefs. Point out that because they might not be familiar with the laws regarding the treatment of animals in their state, their judgments in these cases were probably made based on their personal attitudes and beliefs about what roles animals play and how they should treated.

  9. Distribute Handout Two: Three Basic Attitudes/Beliefs About Animals. Read each “attitude/belief” with the class to ensure their understanding. Be sure to point out that while these attitudes/beliefs are clearly divided into three distinct opinions, many variations of these attitudes/beliefs exist within and among these three distinctions.

  10. Challenge the learners to consider which of these three attitudes and beliefs about animals most closely reflects their written response from Lesson One about animals in entertainment. Have them also reflect on which of these attitudes and beliefs most closely represented the stance their “jury” took in offering their opinion concerning their assigned case.

  11. Write the phrase the humane treatment of animals on the display board. Have the learners share what they know aboutthis phrase. Share this definition with them: the humane treatment of animals means to care for all animals by fostering kindness, respect, empathy, and a sense of responsibility for their welfare.

  12. Have them identify which of the three basic beliefs and attitudes found on Handout Two: Three Basic Attitudes/Beliefs About Animals would most closely identify with the humane treatment of animals (answer: Animal Welfare)

  13. Revisit Handout Two: Three Basic Attitudes/Beliefs Toward Animal Usage/Treatment and briefly talk about the role of “law” mentioned in each of these areas. Explain to the class that while laws concerning animal usage and treatment vary from state to state, every state now has laws in place that address issues of animal cruelty and animal welfare.

  14. Conclude this lesson by assigning homework. Assign one half of the class to research and identify ten of their state’s Animal Cruelty Laws found at Have the remaining half of the class research ten facts concerning the Animal Welfare Act Everyone is to be prepared to share their findings during the start of the next class period.


Learner involvement in the group activities and discussions will form the basis for the assessment of this lesson.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Discuss why some animals and humans will sacrifice for the benefit of unknown others.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the importance of hearing all voices in a community and respecting their right to be heard.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Identify civil society organizations that protect and speak for minority viewpoints.