We believe animal or pet care can have a powerful impact on our students’ well-being in the following aspects:
Interacting with pets and animals has a calming and relaxing effect on most people. By visiting and interacting regularly with the animals here at BAC, our students are more relaxed and healthier.
Caring for animals provides an opportunity to experience a range of healthy emotions. Since many of our children have become “hardened” emotionally, tender feelings of kindness and compassion can be awakened in them by caring for a pet. Caring for another living thing also helps emotionally by lending meaning and purpose to a child who may be struggling with feelings of uselessness, despondency, or despair. Children with attachment disorders have trouble bonding with other people; such children may have an easier time bonding with animals first. This will help them form relationships later with people.
Our efforts to improve a child’s behavior are enhanced through animal care. Most of our students lack impulse control, are aggressive, loud, and rough in their actions. To interact with animals our students must learn to be patient, slow-moving, gentle, quiet, and calm. By teaching our students these animal care behaviors, we are teaching them positive behaviors that are incompatible with their problematic behaviors. At the same time, as our students demonstrate positive animal care behaviors, these behaviors are reinforced by the animals warming up to them and allowing the students to interact with them.
Animal care also provides a wealth of learning opportunities. Depending on the student’s academic level, a variety of assignments, lessons, and learning experiences may be set up. This can include everything from an elaborate report or presentation on a particular animal to simply learning to follow multi-step procedures such as how to put a harness on a miniature horse.
Socialization failure is nearly a universal experience for our students. Many are under-socialized, anti-social, withdrawn, insensitive toward others, and self-conscious. By forming a relationship with an animal, the students may learn the basic building blocks of socializing with others. These include, but are not limited to being a dependable friend, being trustworthy, being sensitive to a friend’s needs, giving and receiving affection, and caring for someone else.