Pet overpopulation is a national crisis crying out for responsible dog ownership and accessible, low-cost spay/neuter services. Both would go a long way to bring down the number of unwanted pets and relieve unnecessary suffering. Easier said than done. Given the scale of the problem and overflowing dog rescues, we need new, creative solutions to bring about the change we seek. And it all starts with education.
Karen Topping of Meghan’s House Rescue, has taken up the challenge in collaboration with Rescue Ranch. Her strategy: educate, educate, educate. Starting in the schools with youth, and growing from there.
A solution-focused approach to pet overpopulation
After twenty years as an equestrian coach, Karen now leverages her ability to kindle a spark in children to teach them about responsible dog ownership. Building on her successful dog socialization training camp for kids at Weed Elementary last summer, and subsequent weekend workshops at the Rescue Ranch Adoption Center, Karen decided to organize a series of presentations at local schools.
The first took place on November 3, at Shasta Elementary, where she gave an assembly to first , second, and third grade, for a total of 250 children. Talk about outreach! Teachers ensured the orderly rotation of the different groups and helped engage the children with great questions. The whole event went remarkably smoothly.
Karen says her goal was to, “Educate the next generation about the pet overpopulation crisis but take the negativity out.” As a result, her approach was solution-focused when she discussed the importance of responsible dog ownership and advocated for spay/neuter. She also described Rescue Ranch’s programs and upcoming events, including plans for a new Rescue Ranch Youth Training Team, where young particpants will learn to train rescue dogs. Finally, the kids got to visit with several lucky Rescue Ranch ambassador puppies.
Making a difference one school at a time
The word is out. Karen has since presented to Weed Elementary, and will soon follow up with Evergreen Elementary and Golden Eagle Charter. Other venues are already queueing up to participate.
The good feedback is inspiring. As Karen says, “When you get something positive going, it attracts a lot more people.” She hopes to continue to expand the program to more children, more schools, and more grade levels. Ideally, the ripples will eventually widen to include families and the larger community.
Karen is a great example of how one person with a vision can use their talents to create change. Rescue Ranch looks forward to our ongoing collaboration. We believe strongly that education is the key to responsible dog ownership and the reduction of overpopulation. The more aware we all are of the steps we can take to collectively and humanely bring down the number of animals in shelters and dog rescues, the closer we are to a lasting solution. Everyone wins when pets are happy, healthy, and living in good homes. Click to learn about Rescue Ranch’s spay/neuter assistance program and free, weekly dog socialization classes.