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Humane Society Teaches Kids About Animal Safety and Care

15 July 2017  
Children hear a lesson from "Critter Camp" teacher Candy McLeod during graduation on Friday July 14th, 2017 at the Yavapai Humane Society in Prescott, Arizona. Photos by: Torrence Dunham
Children Learn Valuable Tips About Animal Behavior At Second Annual "Critter Camp"

PRESCOTT- Over the past seven days, the Yavapai Humane Society hosted the second annual “Critter Camp”. Throughout the week, children were teaught about animal safety and care.

“We’re here not only to serve within the parameters of these fences on our campus, we want to be outside helping the community,” said Yavapai Humane Society Marketing and Development Director Elisabeth Haugan. “We thought starting with kids was a really important way to that outreach.”

The campers who participated learned about animal behavior such as dog and cat body language. The goal is to learn the signs when an animal wishes to be interacted with so possible bites and scratches can be avoided.

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Children interact with The Songs of Liberty's dog on Friday July 14, 2017.

“This was really focused on not just giving the kids a great time but bite prevention,” Haugan said. “Animal bites are a really big reason that animals get separated from their families and usually when children get bit by an animal, it’s their own animal.”

“We thought if we could focus on animal behavior, body language, then maybe we can prevent issues like that,” Haugan continued.

The focus on bite prevention is a key for Yavapai County Sheriff Office Animal Control Officer Scott Potts who has seen cases of aggressive animals in the past. Just knowing simple signs could prevent an issue.

“Teaching the kids when not to mess with their dog, when he’s laying there sleeping or eating, and all those things can prevent so many serious scenarios,” Potts said. “Those bites can be avoided by the kids understanding when the dog is showing some behavior of some signs, ears pinned back, just acting aggressively or semi aggressively. It’s time to step away (and) leave the dog alone.”

Officer Potts was just one of the local community animal experts who talked with campers in the program. Along with individuals at the Humane Society, the children also met a police officer and his K-9, search and rescue individuals and their dogs and even had interaction with different animals such as horses with a visit from a local equine center.

“We got a lot of resources here with the Humane Society but we thought the chance to give exposure to the kids to other outside agencies might be good,” Haugan said. “A lot more guest speakers this year than last year and I think it gave them a very enriching experience.”

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Children meet Prescott Police Officer Sean Brey and his police K9 Blue on Friday July 14th, 2017.

Throughout the time at camp, the children were taught and led by a group of hard working volunteers who have been working on the program for months.

“We realized it takes an amazing volunteer team,” Haugan said. “That is who organized this thing, planned it and ran it.”

Now with the second annual “Critter Camp” completed, planning will immediately start on the 2018 program with more meetings taking place at the start of the new year. In a couple of years, Haugan looks to have more then just one camp per year so additional children in the community have a chance to experience the program.

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Camper Logan recieves his diploma after graduating the second annual "Critter Camp" on Friday July 14th, 2017.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to give kids an experience that is unique, will keep them safe, (and) will get them engaged in our community,” Haugan said. “That’s a gap the Humane Society wants to fill for our community and we are committed to doing it”

Haugan mentioned those who wish to place their kid on the waiting list for next year can contact the Humane Society or visit the official website. Meanwhile, volunteers who wish to join should contact the Humane Society as soon as possible.

A photo gallery taken by the Humane Society which chronicles the week of learning and fun can be found on their Facebook page.