The Green Party has criticised Minister for Education for his refusal to consider including a module on animal welfare in the Primary School curriculum.
Speaking today, Green Party Deputy Leader, and member of the Oireachtas Education Committee, Catherine Martin TD, said: “The Minister’s reply to my parliamentary question clearly indicates that he has no plans to introduce this module to the Primary School curriculum and is especially disheartening as we lead into Christmas. Recent reports on the rise of abandoned pets at this time of the year clearly indicate the need for greater understanding of animal needs in our society.
“It is regrettable that the Minister for Education cannot see the value in educating children from a young age about responsible pet ownership. Introducing a module on animal welfare and responsible pet ownership to the Primary School curriculum has the potential to ensure irresponsible pet ownership becomes a thing of the past.”
Reacting to the news, Green Party Spokesperson on Animal Welfare Pippa Hackett said: “Minister Bruton’s claim that there is no need for a separate module on animal welfare illustrates his lack of understanding and concern for our children and our animals. It is disappointing that he cannot see the huge benefits of such a module, which is already successfully delivered in Educate Together schools with through lesson plans developed by ISPCA and Dogs Trust and endorsed by Veterinary Ireland. The welfare of animals is a hugely significant aspect of our society, and if we can teach our children how best to look after their pets, then we are teaching them important moral values, which can positively influence other aspects throughout their lives.
ISPCA CEO Dr Andrew Kelly said: “The ISPCA strongly believes that educating our children about animal welfare and responsible pet ownership at primary school level, plays a crucial role in helping to protect thousands of animals for future generations. It is hugely disappointing that Minister Bruton does not see the benefit of introducing animal welfare lessons in primary schools. 3,000 members of the public have already signed our online petition calling for animal welfare to be included in the primary school curriculum. ISPCA Inspectors regularly see deliberate acts of cruelty and neglect and the vast majority of these cases are a result of the lack of education and understanding of animal welfare needs. We feel this can be prevented through education at a young age teaching our children compassion and responsibility.
Dr Kelly added: “Over 16,000 calls were made to the ISPCA National Animal Cruelty Helpline last year resulting in over 3,200 investigations, 995 animals were seized or surrendered, 32 prosecutions initiated resulting in 15 finalised in court, compared to nine in the previous year. So far 19 ISPCA initiated cases have been finalised in court this year and we believe education is a key component in delivering behavioural change.
The ISPCA is also highlighting that pets never make good gifts at Christmas or any other time of year and should never be given as a surprise. Prospective pet owners should consider adopting a pet from a reputable rescue organisation like the ISPCA and also that researching the right pet for your family is very important ensuring you have adequate time and financial resources to care for your new pet responsibly.