How Your School Can Help

Animal friendly schools do a lot more than simply teach children about animals.  They also encourage the teacher and the pupil to think about the animal’s needs and to develop a sense of care and responsibility for them.

What are the Benefits of an animal friendly school:

Teaches pupils about animals and their needs
Teaches children that animals are relevant to everyday life
Promotes a sense of responsibility and respect toward all living things
Looks at important, contemporary moral and ethical issues such as animal experimentation and the effect of us, as humans, on the environment
Is aware of and abides by animal welfare legislation
Should we have a classroom pet?

The DSPCA strongly discourages the keeping of animals in classrooms/schools.


Because classrooms can be noisy and frightening places for animals and it’s difficult to look after any animal’s needs in this type of environment. This applies to all animals, including goldfish fish.

The DSPCA believes responsible pet care and animal welfare can be taught in schools without keeping animals captive. Studying an animal in its natural environment should aim to cause minimal disturbance whilst maximising educational opportunity.

We believe there must be an explicit animal welfare education rationale for using animals in education; and legislation relating to animals must be considered in the development of programmes of study.

Where animals are kept in schools, proper provision should be made for their physical and mental wellbeing.

We strongly disagree with schools and colleges using classroom pets to increase their attendance figures with the understanding that if students don’t attend the animal will not be fed or taken care of.

We believe this to be an inappropriate approach and gives a negative impression of how the school/college views its responsibility for the welfare of animals within its care, which may have a detrimental effect on the students’ attitudes toward animal welfare.

Schools have a duty of care to ensure proper provision is made for the welfare needs of any animals for which they are responsible.  This applies not only during school terms but also during the holidays.

NB! However, it must be said, when giving an education talk or workshop, the DSPCA Education Officers sometimes bring along an experienced, trained dog or other animals but only when the animal is completely happy to accompany them and when the situation permits it.  We do this because, as animal welfare officers, we are trained in observing the animals behaviour  and recognizing their specific needs and requirement.  We also always adhere to their 5 freedoms at all times.  If we feel one, any or all of these five freedoms are in danger of being compromised/breached, we do not allow them accompany us on education talks.

Here are alternatives to the use of animals in the classroom.

  • Books, DVDs, videos.
  • Observing animals in their natural habitat –without disturbing them.
  • Building a wildlife area within the school grounds
  • Using soft, cuddly toys
  • Role playing and drama activities

If a member of the school staff is responsible for an animal(s) on the school premises/grounds,  then it is their responsibility to make sure that animal’s needs are met.

They are:

  • The animal’s need to be in a suitable environment.
  • To be able to exhibit normal behaviour.
  • To have free availability to fresh food and water and a suitable diet.
  • To be socialised/housed with (or apart from) other animals.
  • To be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

It’s important to understand that your responsibility does not end when the school day ends.  You must continue to take care of the animal outside of school hours, including weekends and holidays.

Your personal responsibility exists irrespective of whether the animal was purchased by the school or is owned by one of the pupils, teachers or parents.  If an animal’s needs are not being met whilst at school and beyond, criminal prosecutions could, in theory, be brought against all persons over the age of 16 who had responsibility for that animal(s), including school staff.

Can you run a fundraising event on our behalf?

We rely on donations to help us continue the important work we do.  If your school would be interested in running a fundraising event in aid of the DSPCA please check out the leaflets below or contact the Education Department on 01 4994705 or email