One of the greatest things I’ve seen shared on social media this year is the idea to put a preschool in a senior citizen’s nursing home. It’s a totally natural symbiotic relationship to mix little kids with the elderly. Also sharing space can save money so that the preschool program can cost less to run.
We have an animal issue in Memphis. Not enough space at (MAS) Memphis Animal Shelter. For those who don’t know MAS is really not a shelter. They put the animals down at a speedy rate to make room for new ones. People surrender many housepets there daily– it’s not just for stray dogs and feral cats.
In 2015, MAS took in almost 10,000 animals. They euthanized close to 3,500. That’s over a third. Is this the best we can do?
What if there was a program where MAS boarded vetted animals at some of the city’s high schools? With adult guidance, the students could be the caretakers. They could give food and water, pet them, clean cages, and take dogs for walks and make toys for cats out of paper and string. The relationship between children and pets is symbiotic. Some kids don’t have pets and would love to have them at school. Some kids only know a pet as a scary animal tied to a leash, or barking behind a fence. It would be a great educational program for kids interested in health care. And it would spark interest in many other vocations. Kids would learn responsibility. They may fall in love and form relationships with some of the animals, and even help pets get adopted. They can be involved artistically with the animals by photographing them, naming them, and designing a web page to showcase the pets. They can write descriptions of the animals for potential adopters and interview the people who want to adopt an animal. It could make going to school more fun.
Animals have long been known to provide therapy for humans. They calm anxiety and return love. They don’t judge. I think the rewards for the children would be high while the cost to make a pet room in a high school would be low.
Alijca Trout is a musician, mother and dog lover.