SEL Program That Teaches Students to Promote Animal Rescue | The Mutt-i-grees Curriculum

SEL Program That Teaches Students to Promote Animal Rescue | Mutt-i-Grees Curriculum

People love pedigrees. In fact, according to a 2021 report, potential pet parents are willing to spend between $500 to $15,000 just for the chance to own a purebred dog.


Considering the seemingly higher value that people place on animals with pedigrees, North Shore Animal League America developed the Mutt-i-grees  Curriculum, an innovative Pre-K-Grade 12 social-emotional learning (SEL) program that aims to make a difference in students’ social and emotional well-being.


SEL Program That Teaches Students to Promote Animal Rescue | Mutt-i-Grees Curriculum


According to Thomas Frisina and Jayne Vitale, who both work as the Social Media and Outreach Coordinator for the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum and the Director of Education and Youth Programs at North Shore Animal League America, respectively,

“The mission of North Shore Animal League America was always: rescue, nurture, and adopt. But in the last couple of years, they added ‘educate’, so that’s what Tommy and I do. We believethe organization believes that this is the next chapter in animal welfare, it’s to now to educate, because how are we ever going to end euthanasia as a means of population control unless people understand what’s going on?”


(Click the “Play” button below to watch the video)



Although many people associate pets with pedigree with a higher status and greater monetary value, Thomas and Jayne themselves opined that pedigreed pets should not just be considered “better” for the sole reason that they cost more. Instead, they advise treating animals just like you’d do with people, such that one’s bank account—or, in this case, a pet’s pedigree—should not be the sole factor you should use to determine whether they’re a good thing or not.


To promote equity among pets and elevate the status of non-pedigree shelter pets, North Animal League America partnered with Yale University School of the 21st Century, which initially set out towards an SEL curriculum in an effort to address children’s mental health back then.


Jayne elaborated,

“In 2010, it (the curriculum) started… As we know, it’s higher now because of COVID, but one in five kids suffer from challenges with mental health. So, we thought, ‘What better way to do that than to bridge it with humane education?’ Now… most people think, ‘Oh, humane education is being nice to animals.’ But that’s really not the true definition of humane education. And it’s not the way that we arewe’re trying to educate, right, on what humane education truly is, which is caring about oneself, caring about others, environmental stewardship, social media responsibility, and taking action in your community.”


Named one of the programs with the most impact as far as teaching social and emotional skills goes, the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum—which name, incidentally, was also inspired from the word “pedigree”—is also the educational mission of North Shore Animal League America and was designed to cultivate empathy, awareness, diversity, and resiliency to encourage a more humane future.


As a matter of fact, about 5,000 schools, libraries, after-school programs, homes, and communities have already been established in relation to the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum to make it easier for more and more people to make a difference.


SEL Program That Teaches Students to Promote Animal Rescue | Mutt-i-Grees Curriculum


Jayne and Thomas added,

“And that’s really the crux of ourthe curriculum, with service learning at its space… It’s all about showing that, no matter what… no matter your age, you can make positive change in your community happen…”


The Mutt-i-grees Curriculum’s Ambassador Program, for instance, helps empower students to do something that would benefit rescue pets, such as promoting rescue or implementing other projects that would just be beneficial to them. The team simply gives the students’ respective schools a $500 grant to support their project and help get their initiative started.


So, whether you’re helping collect dog food, creating posters, or going to the shelter and volunteering, the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum team sees to it that children learn the importance of animal rescue and that they, even in their own little ways, have the power to make a positive difference not just in the lives of homeless animals but in their community as a whole.




Learn more about the Mutti-i-grees Curriculum!

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