Raising the Next Generation of Animal Lovers: Teaching Children to Care for Animals from an Early Age

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 - 2:00pm
Black and white bunny playing with baby

Guest blog by Lauren Martin, a proud mom of three cats, one bunny, one son and one daughter on the way.  Lauren works in the Legal Department for the ASPCA, has published articles on animal law, and has taught animal law at St. John’s University School of Law.

After 11 months of nothing but babbling, one winter day my son looked at me and said, “Cat!”  Not only was I thrilled to hear my son’s first word. but I was also proud of the word that he picked.  Since my childhood, I have always valued animals and have treated them with dignity and respect.  I have worked to ensure the humane treatment of animals throughout my adult life, ultimately working as an attorney at the ASPCA.  When I learned that I was going to have a child, I knew that I wanted to instill that same love and respect for animals in my child that I hold so dear.

My son came home from the hospital to find that he had four “brothers and sisters” in the form of three loving cats and one adorable bunny.  I wanted a love for animals to be a core part of my son’s values from the very beginning.  From the start, I carefully introduced him to my animals and taught him to be gentle.  I taught him not to pull the cats’ tails or ears, and I taught him not to chase our bunny (bunnies are at the bottom of the food chain, so being chased conjures some fearful thoughts!).  But above all, I have tried to teach my son that animals matter.  Together, we greet all of our animals each morning and give them love and attention each day.  When my son and I take walks in our neighborhood, we are sure to give attention to all of the friendly dogs who are out taking walks, and in fact, my son often sits at our front window calling for Coco, our neighbors’ sweet Shih Tzu.

I believe that kindness to animals will never be something that my son needs to be taught as he gets older.  It will be a core part of who he is as he journeys through his life, and I hope that the world will be a bit more humane because of him.

baby and cat