Pets in the Classroom, a Good Thing or Bad?

@Pigglies (9339)
United States
November 22, 2006 9:05pm CST
I put this under the "rabbits" category because rabbits are frequently in classrooms. However, this discussion could apply to all types of pets. I'm personally against pets in the classroom. While there might be some exceptions, most teachers seem to let pet care really slide with the class pets. Teachers won't take responsibility for vet care. Pets are often left in the classroom over the weekend or taken home by inexperienced students. With rabbits (as well as guinea pigs and other furry pets), allergies can be a problem. Students might also be allergic to hay, which is an essential part of the animal's diet. If students aren't allergic one year, what about next year's students? Rabbits can live for more than 12 years. How can a teacher guarantee that the rabbit will have a home for that many years? Will they personally take the pet home if school policy changes? I also don't like that most classrooms aren't big enough for teachers to give pets properly sized enclosures. I've seen guinea pigs housed in aquariums (that never got cleaned because each parent hoped the next student with weekend duty would do it). Some teachers put rabbits on wire bottomed cages to make cleanup easier (and rabbit feet sore). What kind of a lesson is this poor pet care in the classroom teaching children? It can't be a good one. I like one local school's solution. They have kids donate food to the humane society, and the human society has volunteers bring in a large variety of animals for an assembly. The volunteers show the children what is involved in proper pet care, and the kids are actually learning from people who know what they're talking about (instead of just a teacher who went out to a pet shop and bought the first fuzzy thing they saw). What's your opinion and why? Do you approve of pets in the classroom?
5 people like this
15 responses
@ZoyaAli (127)
• Pakistan
23 Nov 06
I think keeping pets in classroom is not a good idae. coz first of all students wil not be able to concentrate on their studies well and secondaly pets will create a mess. so teachers should try to schedule a separate class in which they can bring pets and teach students about them. otherwise there should be a separate place for keeping pets on regular basis in the schools like labs are created for experiments etc.
2 people like this
@Pigglies (9339)
• United States
23 Nov 06
That's a good point. Students might be watching the pet moving around or noisy pets (like guinea pigs or birds) could cause distractions by being louder than the teacher at times. I've had classes before where students were asked to bring in animals and give presentations on them rather than having a pet in the classroom at all times. Universities often have animals on campus in specific areas, but elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools don't usually have enough resources to do so.
1 person likes this
• Canada
23 Nov 06
You bring up some excellent points. I remember in my kindergaarten class we had I believe a hampster, but I can't remember for certain. And as well as my memory serves my I can't seem to remember many points regarding the care or treatment of that animal. But based on the ponts you have brought up, I think I'm going to have to agree with you in this regard. Especially on the point about the allergies. In our world, due to a plethora or reasons, allergies run rampant in the lives of both children and adults, and you will never be able to guarantee that all of the children in a classroom will be free of those animal or hay allergies and you'll never guarantee that children will not develop allergies to those things. Therefore the fate and care of these animals are not certain and should not be in that situation. I do like the idea of donating to and then going to experience humane societies. It seems like a much better approach to care and awareness of animals.
@Pigglies (9339)
• United States
24 Nov 06
Thanks for replying! There does seem to be a higher incidence of allergies now than in the past.
• Canada
23 Nov 06
Probably no, because the kids could end up hurting the poor animal :(
1 person likes this
• Canada
24 Nov 06
I like the "idea" of pets in the classroom, but in practice, I don't think it's a good idea for the very reasons you stated. I remember in grade three, we raised chicks from eggs (in an incubator) and when they were still small and *cute*, some of the children took them home. I can only imagine what happened to those poor animals. My mother objected to the school, the principal and the school board when we were sent home with permission slips to be signed by parents so that kids could bring one of the chicks home. At the time I didn't realize why she was so upset, but I also came from a family where all animals were cared for and never were mistreated, so the idea that someone would not properly care for a pet (or otherwise) was completely foreign to me. Being an adult now, however, I know that not everyone has the same values and respect for living creatures that I do. About the only pet I'd consider "okay" for the classroom would be fish (as they wouldn't be sent home with children) or perhaps pets that are brought into the school on special occasions, for teaching purposes, etc. (Like the travelling "zoos" that our local children's museum has every few months.)If schools are to have animals, they should be housed in a separate room and not in the classroom, and someone should be employed specifically to care for them. Children could be involved in their care, but in a supervised situation, such as a "pet club". This is the only scenario that I would ever (now) consider okay. One school that my mother used to work at had pets (yes, she works for the same school board that so many years ago she fought with over this)and the animals were very well cared for by a vet technician. However, the school was also for special needs children and the animals were part of the therapy program for many students, so they received better care than most classroom pets usually receive.
• Canada
24 Nov 06
By the way, I just wanted to add that at Christmas time and for my mom's birthday, the family donates cat/dog food or makes a donation to our local humane society.
@Pigglies (9339)
• United States
24 Nov 06
Thanks for replying! I volunteered at a summer school where they did the whole hatching chicks thing. It was supposed to work out that they went back to the farmer at the end of the learning experience. However, several kids ended up taking them home. The parents returned with chickens a few weeks later and demanded they go back to the farmer. Some parents actually didn't even know that chicks would become chickens. Even with the permission slips. I would imagine pet therapy pets would receive better care in most cases. It sounds like your mom is a very caring person.
• Canada
24 Nov 06
"Some parents actually didn't even know that chicks would become chickens." Wow-I'd like to say that surprises me, but sadly, it doesn't.
• China
9 Apr 07
i think it is bad. the little children are very easy-exciting. usually, you dont know when he or she will excites and do es some things hurting to others. when they are in good emotion,they will love the pets kindly,but maybe sudddenly they can be angry to do some hurts to it . what can you do after that? nothing. i think. though you can give them teaching but the pets has been hurt.
@Pigglies (9339)
• United States
9 Apr 07
Something relating to that... we were learning the other day in an animal science class that kids should never be left unsupervised with pets, because they actually go through a "cruelty to animals" phase. Where they want to hurt the animals, poke their shiny eyes, grab tails, etc. Some stay in the phase longer than others.
• United States
6 Apr 07
I have worked in a class with handicapped children as well as children with sever behavior problems. we used animals in these classes as therapy for the children. and yes if a child was allergic one year the pet was removed from the class. In fact we as teachers kept the animal at our own homes over the weekend and the parents even chipped in for vet care for it. animals have been proven as wonderful therapy for handicapped, behaviorly challenged and the elderly. where you have brought up so many good points not every one is like that
@Pigglies (9339)
• United States
6 Apr 07
That is a good point. In that case, it's more likely that the teachers work with dogs or cats (at least in this area), and most likely, dogs. We had a class like that in high school for special students and the teacher brought in her golden retriever. I guess I think of that more as a trained therapy animal (or at least, a therapy animal), rather than a class pet. Ideally, someone actually owns the animal and can afford it. I know a couple people who do have therapy pets they bring to hospitals, and the hospitals aren't paying anything for that, they're just volunteers.
@Melizzy (1381)
• United States
26 Dec 06
I think pets in the classroom is a great idea. You can teach kids how to be responsible. And having to take care of animals gives kids a chance to feel important and have a sense of accomplishment. And the pets get a break from the kids from early afternoon until the next morning!
@Pigglies (9339)
• United States
27 Dec 06
I think it can work if the teacher is caring for the pets responsibly and picked good pets that can actually live in a classroom setting (enough space, proper temperature, diurnal, etc.). And supervising the children. The thing I always notice as someone who used to take surrender calls for various rescues and try to help people place their unwanted small pets, was that parents would buy a small pet for their child, thinking a 2 pound pet could teach their child responsibility! It just didn't work that way... it's the parents setting the example that teach responsibility. Kids aren't going to clean a cage for the lifetime of an animal in general. The parents need to be able to care for the animals or supervise, because it's not something that just go without being done. When they end up just dumping them after the kid is bored, I think that teaches a lesson of disposability instead of responsibility unfortunately. Teachers often call at the beginning of summer to dispose of pets. Not that all do this, but some. It's not a requirement of teachers to have pets, so I'm not sure why those who can't care for them do have them.
• United States
28 Nov 06
I think it depends. Mostly on the teacher. We had two guinea pigs back in 5th grade, which actually got me into them. Back then, It seemed they were well loved/taken care of. They were also allowed to go out during recess, go home on weekends, etc. On the other hand, I had two guinea pigs dumped on me a few years ago. They were classroom pets. They had a filthy cage that wasn't cleaned all summer (GROSS!). She gave them to someone who thought it'd be "okay" to dump them in the wild. Luckilly I got ahold of him before he did that. Ugh.
@Pigglies (9339)
• United States
28 Nov 06
But did the guinea pigs go home with the teacher, or with the students? I've gotten a few classroom guinea pig dumps where they've got horrible foot infections by the time I get them. And curling corkscrew nails. And urine scald. Or bite wounds from being in a small space. But I have seen one teacher who did a fairly good job with her classroom pigs and they even went to the vet when needed. Good thing you got the piggies! They don't do so well in the wild...
@14missy (3185)
• Australia
28 Nov 06
I think in general it is not a good idea. While I was on a prac for a teaching degree, I was talking about sea creatures and underwater habitats. I took in our siamese fighting fish and we all discussed what they eat, their fighting tendancies and other types of fish (fresh or salt water) My son's kinder class has a pet budgie that comes home to each child's house on weekends if they want. I think it ios good to teach them responsibility in cleaning the cage and feeding them. Plus the family can understancd that owning a pet is a full time job and responsibility!!!
@Pigglies (9339)
• United States
28 Nov 06
At college we have some underwater habitats that are in a locked room and are shown for educational purposes. Someone is specifically in charge of those. I don't think something like that or our rainforest is bad. But something like a budgie might escape or something (unless they aren't letting it out of the cage for exercise?). I used to let kids play with my budgie if they did good at tutoring. He was very playful. But after the parents saw the work involved, no one ever wanted one. I miss my budgie! Now I only have finches. :(
@brendalee (6083)
• United States
24 Nov 06
I used to think it was ok, but now after reading your post, I changed my mind. You brought up some very interesting points. I do like the idea of the kids donating to the humane society and having experts come in to teach the kids about animal care.
@Pigglies (9339)
• United States
24 Nov 06
Thanks for replying! I guess MyLot is working then because people are learning different things from reading the posts here. I like it and have also learned quite a bit once I found the better discussions.
@emarie (5454)
• United States
24 Nov 06
i only had one teacher who had a pet in the class. in that case it was a rabbit. we all loved it. the rabbit did belong to the teacher and went home with her everyday. i'm sure if someone had allergies or it botherd someone she would have taken it home. i think its up to the teachers, i don't think they mistreat the animals i think they;re just trying to teach the kids something, and most kids love the animals. from what i've seen any teacher who's brought an animal to school took very good care of it. but i can't talk for all teachers.
@Pigglies (9339)
• United States
24 Nov 06
But it also depends on if the students or parents even realise the care is bad. How much do you know about rabbit care and their requirements? (I don't mean that to be mean or anything, by the way, I'm just pointing out something.) If someone had enough room in their class for a puppy pen with a spayed/neutered rabbit (or a pair), gave the rabbit a proper diet (hay, veggies, and maybe pellets), then that would be fine. But I have never heard of it happening yet (someone please post if this takes place somewhere near them!).
• United States
24 Nov 06
I like the idea of the donations to the shelter then having pets brought in. As a teacher I can say that many of my co-workers did not take care of the animals, but then again, many of them did. But, as it is the individual teachers classroom they are ultimately responsible for the care of the animal in that classroom. You, (the teacher) is there to teach, not push the responsibility of the animal off on students or parents.. if the teacher isn't willing to take responsibility of the animal seriously then they do not need to have the animal in the classroom. As far as rabbits on wire.... we have a rabbitry with over 70 rabbits in it. All are housed on wire BUT each rabbit has a 'foot rest' pad in their cage to help prevent sore feet. Also, we work hard to breed good feet into our rabbits. If we have an animal that seems to have particularly thin skin on their feet we do not breed that animal, instead it is placed into a pet home.
@Pigglies (9339)
• United States
24 Nov 06
Very true! It depends greatly on the individual teacher. Once a teacher brought her classroom guinea pigs to me so that I could show her how to trim nails and clean out the anal sac. When an abscess was found, at first she was saying they were just class pets and wouldn't do anything about it. When I told her that was a horrible lesson to be teaching the students, she got all mad. But later she called and she said she didn't want me to think all teachers were horrible monsters with their class pets, and so she took the pets to the vet and they were recovering in her home, not in the classroom. I put down foot rests for the rabbits in the animal shelters when I go. I can see that if they don't have time for a volunteer to be changing litterboxes, they have to use wire. But a foot rest is a good choice for rabbits that absolutely must be on wire. In California, we have a HUGE rabbit overpopulation problem and there are simply no where near enough volunteers to care for the rabbits properly in shelters. But we try as hard as we can and bring veggies and hay to the shelter rabbits so they aren't stuck eating a poor diet of only pellets.
@katyzzz (2902)
• Australia
9 Apr 07
I think it is wonderful that children get to know animals. They don't always get the opportunity to at home. But they do need to be taught how to handle them.
@kgwat70 (13396)
• United States
6 Apr 07
Classroom - This is part of the classroom that I teach in. We do not have any pets in our training facility.
I think having pets in the classroom is a bad idea unless it is a class related to animals or animal care. Animals in the classroom are too much of a distraction and the kids would never get any work done if this were to happen. I agree that some kids or students may also have allergies to certain animals so it would not be good for them either. Plus the animals may make a mess in the room or make too much noise. I think it is better not to have animals in the classroom.
• China
28 Nov 06
class room is a place for us to study! so that is a bad thing to put a pet in the classroom@