Well known for its care of homeless dogs and cats, Animal Allies takes its mission further with humane education programming. Summer camps started last week for children as young as 5.
Children spent their first day of camp making collages from magazine clippings, getting to know the animals and walking some of the smaller dogs.
By day three, some of them were working on plans to convince their parents to adopt a kitten.
The “Kittens, Puppies and Kiddos” camp lasts four days, but Khloe Wilson, 9, of Cloquet said she would go to it all summer if she could.
“My best friend Eva and I saw this camp online, and we said, ‘oh yeah.’ We thought this was the camp for both of us,” Khloe said.
Last week’s group was five girls ages 6-9. The shelter had four kittens who were not quite ready to be adopted. Their shelter names were East, West, South and North. But Rose Hart, 9, of Superior, said those names were too boring, so the girls decided to rename the kittens Unicorn, Cuddles, Juliet and Shark.
The kids spent some time on day three of the camp holding and playing with the kittens. Rose said she’s hoping to convince her mom to let her adopt Shark.
Animal Allies Humane Education Manager Nicole Facciotto said the camps allow the kids to get their “animal fix” if they don’t have pets at home, and to help them become better pet owners if they do.
“With our youngest age range, we focus on animal safety and just really getting the kids familiarized with pets and how to handle them and how to be a good pet owner,” she said.
When asked what they’ve learned so far, Rose said she learned that if she pinches right above a cat’s paw, it helps get their claws unstuck. Khloe said she learned how to give a treat to a dog by either sliding them under the kennel doors or holding her hand flat so the dog can eat it from her palm.
“This is a really fun camp, and I love it,” Khloe said.
“Humane education is so important to us. It's been part of our community for years and years, and we think if we start when they're young, we're going to have a community full of well-educated, responsible pet owners,” Facciotto said. “Keeping the animals and the people in our community safe is really important, and we think that starts right here with humane education.”
Animal Allies has camps for kids ages 5 and older throughout the summer. The camps range from just learning how to be a pet owner to taking care of animals to even shadowing team members during daily tasks. All the camps have hands-on experience with animals.
“We try to offer something for everybody,” Facciotto said.
There are still spots available in some of the camps. For more information or to sign up, visit animalallies.net/camps-for-kids.