With this attitude towards dogs is deeply embedded within cultural beliefs, we wanted to find a way to tackle this problem at its root – by carrying out fun and interactive animal welfare education initiatives for children in China and Hong Kong.
With so many hundreds of thousands of suffering dogs, rescue can feel somewhat like trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon. Whilst we’re working wherever possible to save the lives of those dogs in China who are currently suffering, we also wanted to take proactive measures to ensure that we end this cycle of misinformation and subsequent abuse.
Wild at Heart Foundation partnered with Animals Asia to support their ‘Professor Paws’ innovative programme that sees registered therapy dogs visit schools to teach children to overcome their fear of dogs, learn safety around dogs, responsible pet care and compassion for all animals. On a broader level, the programme is sculpting attitudes to dogs (and all animals) at a young age and teaching children the importance of kindness and compassion.
The basic programme consists of four structured one-hour lessons over four weeks, with the children graduating as ‘Pet Cadets’. The children also practise their English-speaking and literacy skills with a native English speaker in a fun environment. Many of these children have never had the chance to touch a dog before their first Professor Paws class. Often in the first class they are terrified because they have simply had no experience of dogs, or their parents have instilled this fear in them, telling them not to touch dogs because they are dirty and dangerous.
Research has shown that dogs can be instrumental in improving the learning skills of a wide variety of children. Close interaction with dogs is proven to increase self-confidence and pro-social behaviour among students, while encouraging the development of compassion. It is for this very reason that Wild at Heart Foundation put education at the core of our mission and all that we do.