Do you know how many stray dogs there are living in the United States? If you're stumped, you're not alone. According to the ASPCA, no one knows how many homeless dogs there are because no one has ever had the means or the funds to undertake a survey. But one animal welfare group is hoping to change that with a crowd-funded stray dog survey that could quantify — and help develop solutions for — America's stray dog epidemic.
The project, called American Strays 2030, is an effort by the World Animal Awareness Society (W2As) to understand the scope of the homeless dog issue in this country with the goal of creating solutions that target the problem. As part of this campaign, the group will have volunteers on the streets counting dogs and trying to get a better grasp of the issues involved. But W2As is also placing a strong focus on education to help more people understand and care about the situation.
As part of this education effort, the group has a heavy presence on social media, with easy-to-share videos that bring awareness to the plight of stray dogs. But even more interestingly, the group has also helped create a lesson plan for fourth-grade students that integrates the homeless dog problem into aspects of the curriculum.
The lesson plan, called "The Bones," was created by two elementary school teachers as a means to get kids talking about the homeless dogs in their communities and thinking about what they and their families can do to help. Here are some examples of the ways the curriculum can be used to teach various fourth-grade subjects:
History: Students learn how dogs and their relationship with humans have changed over time.
Math: By studying the American economic system, kids learn about credit and debit and how stray and homeless dogs are affected by the health of the economy.
Science: Students create Venn diagrams to compare and contrast dogs and their interactions with other species.
Social Studies: Kids look into the long- and short-term problems affecting stray dogs and brainstorm solutions. They also conduct surveys of homeless dogs found in their neighborhoods and present their findings as a group.
Art and composition: Students create artwork and letters from the perspective of a homeless animal.
Civics: Students learn what to do if they see a homeless animal and how to educate others in their communities about stray pets.
These Good Pet Guardian Lesson Plans were launched in Detroit Public Schools in 2015, and now W2As is hoping to expand the program to other major cities such as Memphis, New Orleans, San Antonio, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Baltimore.
Check out the W2As site to learn more about "The Bones" and how you can get these free lesson plans at your school. And you can learn more about the program in the video below: