AKC turning to children in program to protect dogs

June 30, 1993|By Deborah Lawson | Deborah Lawson,Knight-Ridder Newspapers

After a highly successful nine-state test of its Best Friends educational program, the American Kennel Club (AKC) will make it available to primary schools across the nation. The program, which shows students how to be responsible dog owners,includes lesson plans, worksheets, exercises and an engrossing videotape depicting canines as companions and workers for mankind.

Encouraging responsible dog ownership has become a priority with AKC, the nation's largest canine registry.

AKC leaders believe that the current wave of anti-pet laws has been triggered in part by people who let their pets run loose to foul the neighborhood and act in other annoying or even dangerous ways.

Also, cruelty to animals is increasing, and many owners are uninformed about pets' need for proper nutrition, training, health care, exercise and affection.

The intensive, formalized-but-fun AKC program for grades one through six is based on lesson plans, videos and colorful graphics. It can stand alone or be integrated into reading, writing, art, social studies, math and other classes.

Members of the nation's thousands of AKC dog clubs are being recruited to augment the lessons with well-trained canines that students can pet.

The owners will demonstrate how dogs like to be treated and discuss with youngsters the problems they may be having with their own pets.

Dorothea Edgecomb, principal of Robles Elementary School in Tampa, Fla., which participated in this spring's pilot test, said Best Friends "teaches far more than how to treat dogs; it teaches the responsibility of loving and responsibility for others."

Suzanne Lustig, AKC manager of public relations, said more than 3,000 schools in the test states have requested Best Friends materials.

For information on the Best Friends Educational Supplement, teachers should write to the American Kennel Club, Public Education Department, 51 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10010.

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