The MSPCA-Angell recognizes that positive, responsible attitudes towards animals can be developed by caring for and interacting with live pets. However, the MSPCA-Angell believes that it is difficult to provide pets the same level of care in elementary and secondary school classrooms as is possible in a home. Therefore, the MSPCA-Angell believes that animals can be kept as classroom pets only if they are acquired for the purpose of educating students about the sentience of animals and their need for responsible, humane care.
The school understands and accepts full responsibility for the acquisition and lifetime care of the pet. Additionally, the following criteria should be met:
- Make appropriate provisions for the humane care of the animal during times such as evening, weekends, vacations, summer, and holidays when school is not in session.
- Accept full financial responsibility for the animal.
- Ensure that the school can meet the “Five Freedoms.”
- Ensure that the classroom pet will be universally acceptable to all staff and students, taking into consideration things, such as allergies, that may make the pet not appropriate in the classroom setting for all students.
- Provide humane and appropriate alternatives for the pet if the classroom can no longer maintain the animal.
- Ensure appropriate nutrition, temperature, environment, etc. for species.
- Ensure that the animal’s stress levels are kept at a minimum by practicing proper and safe animal handling with students and also provide the animal with a quiet “time out” space as needed.
Therefore, the MSPCA-Angell will actively promote responsible care of classroom animals by:
- disseminating literature and media about responsible pet care and best practices.
- providing humane education programs and support for schools and students concerning their obligations to classroom animals.
- providing direct guidance during adoption counseling on proper animal care in the classroom to ensure successful placement.
- encouraging the school to partner with a veterinarian or other qualified animal caregiver who can give advice about all aspects of care and enrichment to help ensure the most humane treatment for the animal.