This year, PetSmart provided 10,000 grants to teachers for Pets in the Classroom, a program that financially assists teachers who wish to purchase and care for small pets in their classrooms.
“Pets play a valuable role in children’s physical, social, emotional and cognitive development and can also enrich the school curriculum,” Kathy Mitchell, PetSmart government affairs director and Pet Care Trust board member, said in a news release.
“That’s why we are proud to help even more teachers incorporate pets into their classrooms that can stimulate learning and bonding with the animals,” she continued.
According to a study from the Human Animal Bond Research Institute and Pet Care Trust, pets teach children about compassion, empathy, and respecting living creatures, while also reducing stress levels; additionally, these results were amplified for children with special needs.
“I am so grateful for the Pets in the Classroom program. My students feel a sense of pride knowing that they are completely responsible for the care of our dwarf hamster. They really see her as an addition to the classroom—even my students who have various emotional, learning, or physical concerns understood she needs love and gentle care from everyone to thrive,” Michelle Jacobs, a fifth-grade teacher in the program, said.
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“I’ve seen so many positive interactions and behaviour changes because of this wee little classmate,” she continued.