Randolph County students learn responsibility through pet care

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RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. -- The school day is packed with lots of writing and reading. But at four Randolph County elementary schools, they are learning about another "R" word. Responsibility.

Volunteers with the Randolph SPCA are teaching the the next generation of pet owners how to care for their cats or dogs.

Linda Knott, an educator with the Randolph SPCA, explains the pet responsibility program is a part of their efforts to reduce the unwanted pet population in Randolph County.

"We've had community meetings. We’ve had information in newsletters once a week. I think it’s making Randolph County more aware of what is going on.”

The pet responsibility class is a six-week program that includes bringing toy dogs and real dogs into second and fourth-grade classrooms. The goal is to teach future pet owners the importance of spaying or neutering. Jan Williamson, a SPCA educator, believes the addition of real dogs help students connect to the serious topic of controlling the pet population.

"We are trying to teach pet responsibility and empathy and compassion for the animals. Having the dogs in the classroom really makes the children enjoy the lessons and connect with the dogs.”

Justin Jackson is a fourth graders at Randleman Elementary. He clearly understands the importance of reducing the pet population in Randolph County.

"Get your pets fixed so they don’t have too many kittens or puppies,” he says.

Second graders at Level Cross Elementary and fourth graders at Randleman Elementary are new to the pet responsibility program. Second graders at Farmer Elementary and fourth graders at Grays Chapel also participate in the program.

The Randolph County Animal Shelter euthanized 1,600 fewer animals in 2014.