While spending time with animals undoubtedly a valuable learning experience for all ages and has benefits such as learning care and responsibility, relieving stress, and developing empathy, it is important to consider the animal’s experience. A bright and busy classroom is a good environment for children but is overwhelming to most animals. Despite the best of intentions, class pets may become neglected and ultimately unwanted as the school year ends.
By symbolically adopting a rescued animal resident of Charlie’s Acres as your class pet, you create a safe opportunity for kids to learn about animals that is inclusive regardless of the school’s budget and location, or any allergies of students.
While students are enrolled in virtual learning, a virtual class pet is still accessible and can be a fun bonding experience.
Did you know that many states have curriculum requirements for humane and character education? This education involves teaching children to understand, care about, and act on core ethical values such as respect, justice, and responsibility for self and others.
Teaching kindness to animals is a natural component of these efforts. Developing empathy towards animals can be a key step in developing empathy for and rejecting violence against all beings, including humans. With bullying and youth violence rampant in schools today, it is essential to teach compassion and encourage kindness in your students.
Nicholas, Victor, & Gilbert
Nicholas, Victor, and Gilbert were saved by a truly incredible kid. When a rancher purchased their mother, he was surprised to find out that she was pregnant. Eleven-year-old vegan, Nicholas, was able to convince the rancher to let him try and find homes for all her piglets and was successful! We named one of the piglets Nicholas after their amazing rescuer. These three brothers have always been close, snuggling tightly together under straw and blankets every night. Now, they’re making new friends and getting bigger every day! They love meeting visitors and are quick to flop for a belly rub!
Hope began her life being used by the egg industry. By the time she was three years old, her body was exhausted to the point that she was no longer laying enough eggs to be considered profitable, so she was loaded up on a truck with 1,000 other hens and headed to the slaughterhouse. On the way, this truck crashed on the highway and caught fire. Many of the chickens did not survive and most of those who did, suffered severe burns. Fortunately for Hope, a passerby picked her up off the freeway and took her to the vet so her burns could be treated. Hours later, Hope arrived at Charile's Acres, ready to heal and begin her new life.
Hannah was living at a small-scale backyard dairy that specializes in goat cheese. After having four babies at once Hannah developed mastitis and was deemed no longer useful for breeding and milk production. Shortly before she was scheduled to go to slaughter, Hannah and her daughter Margaret were evacuated due to a wildfire and took refuge at Charlie’s Acres. We were thrilled to be able to offer them both a permanent home. Hannah enjoys meeting new people and greets visitors by rubbing her face on them. Margaret, once timid, has come out of her shell and is happy to receive head scratches as long as Mom is nearby.
Honey came to Charlie’s Acres at 10 years old, after spending her life in the dairy industry. Like most female cows used for dairy, she was taken from her mother shortly after birth, and raised to suffer the same fate. Cows used for dairy are kept nearly constantly pregnant so that they continue producing milk. After Honey was rescued, she gave birth to her final son, Benjamin, in 2018. Despite her tragic upbringing, Honey is incredibly sweet. She is happy to finally be able to nurse and raise a child and spends her days grazing with her son and enjoying a well-deserved retirement with her beautiful family.
Gretel + 8
In July 2021, we received several messages from individuals in a nearby neighborhood that a potbellied pig had been abandoned and that they were worried due to the busy road and mountain lion sightings in the area. Our staff spent days gaining this pig’s trust and eventually convinced her to climb into our trailer for treats. We named her Gretel and quickly noticed that she was pregnant! Gretel soon showed her friendly and gregarious personality and two weeks after arriving at Charlie’s Acres, she gave birth to eight healthy piglets! Welcome home Gretel, Calvin, Grover, Ruthie, Rocco, Charlotte, Tamara, Ola, and Parker!
Petunia spent the first year of her life in a laboratory, used for testing. We do not know exactly what she was used for in this lab, but she arrived covered in scabs and rashes. She came to live at Charlie's Acres on her first birthday and touched grass for the very first time that day! Now, she loves being outside and is the last one to go to bed each night, always far out in the field snacking on grass until the last bit of sunlight disappears. Petunia became a quick favorite as she grew to be more confident and outgoing, coming up to visitors and nudging them with her nose, asking for belly scratches. Her skin has improved thanks to regular skin conditioner treatments (and frequent mud baths).
Monroe is an albino duck who was found alone in a pond in Alameda as a one day old duckling. Unlikely to survive on her own, she was rescued and came to live at Charlie's Acres. Ducklings do not like to be alone at all, so for her first 3 weeks of life, Monroe went everywhere with her human caregivers. As we saw Monroe's other duckling companion surpass her significantly in size, we realized that Monroe is not a Pekin Duck, but a Call Duck, a miniature breed. Because of her small size, it is unsafe for Monroe at the big open pond, so we created a new aviary for her with the rest of our "Misfit Crew".
Roger & Mama
Mama and Roger are one of our most heartwarming couples. Mama came to Charlie's Acres after being attacked by a dog and losing one of her legs. She had settled in as the matriarch of our sheep group and was gaining confidence on three legs, when Roger joined the group. Roger, recently blind due to neurological damage, was understandably fearful and confused, finding comfort in Mama's calm presence. Roger would become distressed when he could not easily find Mama, so we placed a bell around Mama's neck so he can always know where she is. He relies on Mama to find his way back to the barn at night and she sticks close to him, occasionally leaning on him for support.
Bernard is quick to attract attention on tours because of his unique look of downy feathers and fuzzy feet. This silkie rooster was living in Oakland when his family realized he was a male and began crowing. Roosters are often misunderstood and unwanted. Whether they were a classroom hatch project, or a family pet or backyard hen that turned out to be a rooster, their loud crowing leads to them not being allowed within certain city limits or no longer being wanted by their home. Fortunately for Bernard, his family wanted to find a safe home for him and reached out to us. Bernard now lives with 3 other roosters and a flock of sheep, who he loves. Sometimes, he even helps out his sheep friends by picking through their wool, looking for any pestering bugs to eat.
Ginger was brought to Charlie’s Acres by a young activist who negotiated with her former owner to relinquish her. She arrived at Charlie’s Acres in extremely poor health due to severe neglect; emaciated, full of parasites, and suffering from a life-threatening udder infection. Ginger arrived accompanied by her adopted daughter, Mary Ann, who had been rejected by her own mother and whose development was stunted due to nutritional deficiencies. We feared for Ginger’s survival during those first weeks and were thrilled as we saw her put on weight and gain strength. Despite her terrible start in life, Ginger constantly amazes us with her resilience and friendliness.
Lucy was born on a farm which raised Katahdin hair sheep for their meat. Shortly after she was born, her mother died. Lucy was bottle fed and hand raised by the farmer’s girlfriend who couldn’t bear to send this sweet girl back to be slaughtered so she reached out to us to provide a safe home for her. Typically lambs like Lucy would be killed between the ages of six and eight months, however Lucy's natural lifespan is about 12 years old. Lucy is still young and very goofy, often getting the “zoomies” and springing around the pasture before bed, encouraging the younger lambs to follow suit.
Esperanza or Espy as she’s affectionately called is loving, goofy, and always getting into strange positions. She came to us from a sanctuary in Southern California that was closing and needed to find new homes for some of their special-needs animals. Espy was born without back hooves and has a mild neurological condition. Her best goat friend Zipper is always nearby and keeps a close eye on her, calling out if she’s not able to see her. Hombre the turkey is also vigilant about looking out for Espy and is very tolerant when she tries to play with him or chew on his feathers. Espy brings a smile to everyone she meets and is excited to get her new leg braces soon, which will help her to walk more comfortably.
Charlie's Acres' Virtual Class Pet Program includes:
- An adoption certificate, photos, and information about your new class pet.
- Four 30 minute video calls with an animal caregiver and your class pet. These can be scheduled throughout the year, semester, or shorter unit, depending on your class’s needs. These calls will focus on humane education lessons that help students put themselves in an animal’s “shoes” and consider their feelings.
View our Virtual Class Pet Program curriculum. This program is available to teachers at no cost. Donations are always greatly appreciated, when able, in order to continue offering this program.
You can help us make this program available to even more classrooms with a Pay-It-Forward donation.