Children learn pet safety from vet
By Pfc. Michelle M. Dickson
| Marine Corps Base Hawaii | November 28, 2003
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii --
Children attending the Child Development Center aboard MCB Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, received a visit from a four-legged friend and a veterinarian, Nov. 19, as the final event closing out the animal caring and awareness activity at the center.
The preschool students got the chance to learn what it's like to be a veterinarian while also learning some good ways to care for a pet.
"We like to teach the children some general knowledge about animal health and how a veterinarian is just like a doctor, only for animals," said Capt. Rebecca Evans, Veterinary Corps officer at the Fort Shafter branch. "An animal is just like us and they need to be cared for just as much."
Many of the children who attend the CDC have never interacted with animals before this visit, so they were extremely excited for the opportunity. The visit allowed them to experience what having an animal is like, and gave them the opportunity to see the amount of responsibility it takes to actually care for a pet.
Since the children received instructions about dogs and how to interact with them before the visit, very few kids were nervous. Most were extremely happy to see a real dog in their classroom.
"What we mainly try and do for the kids is to teach them animal respect," said Evans. "Animals need to be approached slowly and quietly, and dealt with as much care as a person would be."
The animal selected to come out and spend time with the kids was a one-year-old golden retriever named Kelu. The vet selected a calm, quiet dog that she knew could deal with the commotion of many children. Kelu did very well as the kids fell in love with her, and Kelu seemed to equally love all the attention.
The children listened to Kelu's heartbeat, and they also received bandage wrap and other first aid equipment to investigate and play with that entertained all of them to great extents.
"It was so much fun," said Peyton Sommer, a child at the CDC, "We got to wear blue hats, but I liked listening to the heartbeat the best."
Evans said she really enjoys the opportunity to host vet visits.
"I think that children should really be educated on certain things like this," she said. "I think there would be a lot fewer instances of dog bites if children knew about these things and how to act around pets."
The visit allowed the children to use their five senses and share a bond with "man's best friend."
"It's a neat hands-on experience and a really great way for them to learn about vet care," said preschool teacher Patty Krueger. "After speaking to the children ahead of time, they all seemed to be really good listeners. They stayed interested the entire time."
The CDC always tries to give children different learning experiences. The center periodically sponsors field trips to the commissary, post office and other locations.