Network Bulletin

November 2019

Understanding and Reducing Animal Suffering

Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living [beings], humanity will not find peace.

Albert Schweitzer

By using age-appropriate resources and methods to teach youth about animal protection issues involving animal suffering, educators can engage youth in issues about which they naturally care, all while having meaningful conversations and promoting critical thinking. One issue that is timely and that sparks youth’s natural sense of caring and justice is puppy mills, with which youth may have direct experience, as many may be familiar with visiting a pet store or breeder to get their new family companion animal.

An exciting and unique resource that HEART has developed to teach youth about puppy mills is our ​CIT Squad: Case of the Sick Puppy​​​ online educational game. In this case, the Compassionate Investigators in Training (CIT) Squad investigates why Juniper, a puppy who was bought online, is very sick. They travel to different environments, including pet stores, adoption centers, and eventually the puppy mill where Juniper came from. As students play, they uncover the reality behind the puppy mill breeding industry. They also discover the ways in which many online distributors and pet stores that sell animals contribute to the problem.

In addition to learning about these issues, we hope that students will develop greater empathy and become more thoughtful about how animal companions are brought into their lives, as well as more conscientious about proper companion animal care. This game also promotes literacy skills, learning about animals, compassion, social and emotional learning, critical thinking, advocacy, empowerment, and fun!

We recently updated the game, shortening it so that it can be played within 20-30 minutes, making it perfect for a variety of educational spaces, including traditional classrooms, afterschool programs, camps, and even at home. Additionally, we have provided three mini-bonus scene games that can each be played in 5 minutes. One bonus scene in particular focuses on the CIT Squad figuring out the best way to humanely and safely help a chained dog.

Accompanying the game are numerous resources for educators, including a review of the game’s topic and vocabulary, a post-game lesson, and a scene-by-scene guide so that you can confidently use the game in your educational space.


 Grades 3-5
Wildlife Under Fire
While working in small groups, students read a story about an animal and learn how that species is suffering because of an environmental issue, and consider ways to help protect these animals and the natural world. The issues covered include: habitat destruction, pollution, climate change, poaching, and endangered species.
Grades 5-6
What's Really Happening
on the Farm?
Upon learning that the majority of farm animals in the U.S. are raised on factory farms, youth consider who is most affected by the way these farms operate. Students work in groups, each representing someone affected by factory farms. They rewrite information presented to them in the voice of the group they represent.
Grades 9-12
Looking at the Root
After students define oppression, they will learn about what the root causes of oppression are. They will consider the reasons and the ways that people have oppressed other people and animals. Students will then explore the strategies that people have utilized to create a more equal and just world for people and animals.
Grades K-2
Plastic Planet
Youth explore the potentially devastating effects that plastic can have on wildlife. They learn about particular species of animals who accidentally mistake plastic for food and eat it. Then they create artwork by reusing plastic to educate others about the importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling to save animals’ lives.

Book Recommendation

Animal Rescue

By Patrick George

Children as young as pre-K age learn about the importance of helping animals from this touching picture book that allows readers to turn transparent pages over and “rescue” animals in doing so. The book provides a heartwarming and gentle introduction to the topic of animal protection.

  •  A free network of support for your humane education programs
  • Providing animal shelters, sanctuaries, and rescue organizations with effective and engaging lessons, tips, and activities that help deliver high-quality humane education for all ages

HEART does not receive compensation from third parties for promoting books or other materials, nor do we receive compensation for the purchase of any suggested for-sale materials, unless specifically noted.

Copyright 2024 by HEART - Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers

Scroll to Top