What's Being Done?

6, 7, 8

In this lesson the learners will identify state and national laws that  provide for the humane treatment of animals. They will share their findings concerning the laws that regulate the use and treatment of animals and grow in their understanding of and appreciation for the role of advocacy in promoting change. They will write essays or letters advocating for animal welfare.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo 45 to 50 minute class period.

The learner will:

  • identify laws and amendments pertaining to animal welfare in the Animal Welfare Act.
  • identify legislation about animal welfare found in their state.
  • define advocate and advocacy.
  • identify the role of the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) in animal welfare.
  • identify additional animal advocacy organizations and their roles.
  • advocate for animal welfare through an act of their own choosing.

For additional related topics and materials see: 



  1. Anticipatory Set: Prior to the learners entering the classroom place the words “add voice” on the display board in large letters. Begin the class period by having the learners share some of their “most interesting findings” regarding their State’s laws pertaining to animal usage and treatment. Summarize or capture key words and phrases from their sharing and place these on the display board. Do the same for the Animal Welfare Act.

  2. Pose this question to the class: “Who makes the laws concerning the treatment of people; i.e laws concerning theft, murder, traffic, working conditions, etc.?” (Answer: “We the people”)

  3. Ask them “Who makes the laws concerning the treatment and use of animals since they cannot speak for themselves?” (Answer: “We the people”).

  4. Point to the displayed phrase “add voice” and have the class briefly share what they think this phrase means. Now place the words advocate and advocacy on the display board. Tell the class that these English words are derived from the Latin word advocatus meaning to “add voice”. Share with them that advocacy means to “add voice” by writing, speaking, pleading, or acting in favor of or support of something” and an advocate is “an individual, group, or organization who performs these advocacy acts.” Advocacy is based on an individual’s or organization’s beliefs and values. In situations where specific laws do not exist, it becomes the government entities responsibility to consider what decision is “best” for the common good.

  5. Have the learners share some of the ways that an individual, group or organization could advocate for a cause like animal welfare. List these methods on the display board. You may wish to give a few examples to prompt this sharing (petitions, boycotts, letter writing, editorials, volunteering, parades, rallies, pickets, sit-ins, silent protests, hunger strikes, publicity/advertising, graffiti, blockades, riots, demonstrations, strikes, walkouts, lockouts, teach-ins, internet voting, debates, campaigning, street corner talks, fund raising, lobbying, signs/billboards, phone solicitation, and violence).

  6. Arrange the class into five equal groups. Give each group a copy of one of the five scenarios from Handout One:“Scenarios.” Tell each group to read their assigned scenario and reach consensus on what is the primary advocacy method(s) being used in this scenario. Ask one group member to read their scenario to the class and identify the primary method of advocacy that was used. (Scenario One – Fund Raising/Donations; Scenario Two – Editorial/Letter Writing; Scenario Three – Volunteering/Solicitation; Scenario Four – Letter Writing/Petitions; Scenario Five – Boycotting) Allow time for questions and discussion.

  7. Share with the class that in addition to individuals, there are also many groups and organizations advocating for the humane treatment of animals. They can explore organizations that advocate for animals for current efforts.

  8. Share information about the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as an example of one animal welfare advocacy group. Have the class view and explore the website at www.aspca.org. View the Homepage and look for “Lobby for Animal” and “Fight Animal Cruelty.” If internet access is not available, distribute copies of the ASPCA informational paper on the Learning to Give website. Ask the students to determine what methods of advocacy the ASPCA uses.

  9. Challenge the students to assess their own beliefs and values about animal welfare and to select an issue, either local, national or international that they believe needs to be addressed through an act of advocacy. Ask students to share some of the issues they might address. (To stimulate student thinking, the teacher may need to suggest issues such as: need for a local dog park, access to water for animals in public places, local animal welfare laws and regulations, availability of affordable pet care, and need for spay and neuter clinics.)

  10. Assign students to write a letter or essay expressing their beliefs about animal welfare, clearly stating the issue they want to address and proposing a strategy to address the issue. Help students determine the appropriate audience for their writing and how to submit the piece to that venue - organization, local or national governmental entity, news media, etc. (The class may choose to address one local animal welfare issue as a group or each student may choose an issue on their own.)

  11. After the persuasive writing is completed and delivered, have the students reflect on their learning and advocacy. One possible way is to cut out a variety of jig-sawpuzzleshapes from a single piece of large white construction paper. Be sure that each student in the classroom gets at least one of these puzzle pieces. Have each student write on their puzzle piece a response to one of these prompts: What I believe about animals and their role in our world. How I feel about animals in sports and entertainment. What difference did my advocacy make? Have the students, using a colored pencil or crayon, lightly color their puzzle piece so as not to cover up what is written on it. Then working as a group, have students put the puzzle together. Once the puzzle has been completed, have a few of students paste/glue the pieces onto a larger piece of paper and display the complete puzzle under the heading, “Working Together for Animals.”


Assessment will be based on learner involvement in group activities and discussions. There should be evidence of reflective listening and thoughtful response. The satisfactory completion of the advocacy writing will serve as the primary assessment pieces for this lesson.

Cross Curriculum 

Learners will select an animal welfare issue they want to address. They will write a persuasive essay or letter, and send it to an organization, local or national governmental entity, news media, or other appropriate venue in an attempt to promote animal welfare.


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.
    3. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Discuss a public policy issue affecting the common good and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Identify outcomes from the service.