SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – KCBS’ Jeff Bell talks to Dr. Jack Aldridge, Director of Veterinary Services at the San Francisco SPCA about the importance of humane education.

Humane education programs teach children respect and responsibility in the context of taking care of animals, but also serve as a platform for instilling important values in the big picture.

The programs also teach kids about compassion, community responsibility, activism and even fundraising.

Dr. Aldridge said there are many ways parents can teach their kids how to treat animals humanely. One of the best ways is to teach them through your own actions and to start when they are very young.

If you have a pet, you can teach your child responsible pet care and proper animal handling techniques, such as not pulling a cat’s tail, being gentle and quiet around small creatures and never frightening any animal, wild or domestic.

Something as seemingly silly as releasing an outdoor bug that finds its way into your home, rather than crushing it underfoot, can send a powerful message of compassion and respect to your child.

You can also visit your local animal shelter and take the opportunity to explain the importance of adoption and volunteer work. Many local shelters also have youth programs like camps and volunteer programs so kids can have a one-on-one experience with animal welfare.

Dr. Aldridge said that promoting humane education is for everyone. People without children can volunteer for a humane education program, as many animal shelters, schools and libraries have programs for kids.

Also, if you have a friendly dog and children approach you and ask to pet him, take the opportunity to explain how to properly meet and greet a dog.

Finally, kids are very impressionable, so share your love of animals with them whenever you can and it will be a lesson they carry with them for a lifetime.

Animal Update airs on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM on Sundays at 1:35 p.m., 3:35 p.m., and 9:21 p.m.

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