Unit Overview: People have a responsibility to
refrain from behavior that causes injury to other human beings or to
animals. That responsibility is defined in laws and in the decisions of
our courts and administrative agencies, such as health and state
departments of agriculture. This unit will explore laws that are
designed to protect animals as well as organizations which help to make
and enforce laws.
Objective I: Students will be able to explain the
reasoning behind a variety of laws that exist to protect animals.
Motivation: Encourage students to volunteer their
own experiences about interacting with their companion animals. Do they
walk their dogs on leashes in public places and why? Have their cats or
dogs been spayed or neutered? If their companion animals have had
puppies, kittens, how do they find suitable homes for these animals?
What does each law require? What are the penalties for breaking the
law? Why do you think that each law is important? Watch for information
on Law 353-b. This 2003 law is important because it deals with providing
dogs that are kept outside with adequate shelter to protect them from
rain, snow, cold and heat.
Note: The readability level of these laws is high. Teachers may have
to translate these laws into simpler language for students in grades 4
Small Group Activity: Divide the students into groups and have each group search
periodicals -- suitable to the group’s reading level -- for news
stories and features about (1) cruelty to companion animals, (2)
abandonment of companion animals and (3) dog-fighting. Have each group
of students report back to the class about what they learned. What law
was broken? What penalties were imposed upon people for breaking the
Objective II: Students will be able to give examples
about the role of law enforcement agencies and legislators in preventing
cruelty to animals.
Motivation: Invite a law enforcement officer to address
the class by contacting your local humane society or police department.
Ask her/him to discuss unlawful activities involving animals such as
cruelty to animals, abandonment of animals and dog-fighting. Have
her/him address efforts underway to stop the illegal activity. Ask the
officer to explain how the students can assist law enforcement officers
merely by being observant in their own community.
The students may also be encouraged to watch the television program
“Animal Precinct” as a means of learning more about the role
of law enforcement agencies. If you are unable to get a law enforcement
officer to visit the class, assign specific episodes of “Animal
Precinct” and then discuss the program viewed with the class. What
illegal activities did officers interfere with? What happened to the
animals in each episode? Were any fines or other penalties imposed on
Mini-lesson: The teacher may want to spend some time discussing how a bill
becomes a law as part of this unit. For background information, go to
American History Syllabus at www.socialstudieshelp.com.
Click onto “American History.” Type in “Bill Becomes
Law” in “Search this site” box and click onto
“find.” Click onto “How a bill becomes a
Select a recently introduced bill dealing with animal issues to
discuss with your class. To find information on the Internet, log onto
Click onto “Bill Search and Legislative Information.” Click
onto “Search by Keyword.” Type in “Animal.”
Click on “Search.” This will get you to a list of bills
(proposed legislation). A summary of each bill you select, the number of
the bill, the senate equivalent and the name of the sponsor can be found
at this site. A similar listing can be found at www.senate.state.ny.us. Try to
choose a bill that appears important and logical. You may want to
call your local or state humane society’s education
department for help in selecting a bill for class discussion.
Highlight the key points of the bill on a chart or overhead
transparency. Introduce the chart and discuss the key points with the
students. At several points have the students “talk and
turn” to their partner discussing why they think the bill is
useful or important or why not. Stress accountable talk. During talk and
turn, the teacher circulates and participates in various discussions.
Bring the class together to share key points of their discussions.
Small Group Activity: As a class, have the students select an animal-related problem
in their community that they think could be solved by legislation. Have
groups of students develop ideas for how this problem could be solved.
Have them report back to the entire class with their ideas. As a class,
draft a proposal to be submitted to community leaders which would solve
the problem to the benefit of the animals and people who live there.
Summary: As part of a computer lab, library project or homework, have
groups of students identify local legislators or public officials
who have introduced legislation pertaining to animal matters. This can
be done by visiting the web sites of the legislative bodies under
study at www.assembly.state.ny.us
If their own representative has not introduced legislation of this
nature, students can identify other legislators or public
officials within New York State who have done so. What legislation
has been introduced? Does the student think the legislation is important
or not, and why?
Help students to learn about additional laws that exist to protect
Log onto www.assembly.state.ny.us.
Click onto “Bill Search and Legislative Information.”
Click onto “New York State Laws,” then on to
“New York State Consolidated Laws,” then “Agriculture
& Markets,” and “Article 26.” There will be
a listing of laws. Select one or two to discuss as a class. Why
are they important?
Follow-up Activities: Using a topic -- if possible determined by the students
themselves (otherwise one of two or more ideas suggested by the
teacher) -- divide the class into groups advocating differing
points of view. Have the students research their topic in the
library and on the Internet. Have each group present their
findings and recommendations to the class. Conduct a brief debate
between the groups for different viewpoints for each topic
discussed. Students may wish to address situations that occur
within the school itself.
a) Chick-Hatching (opt-in and opt-out is now permitted: review
Education Law provisions for Study and Care of Live Animals in Section
chick-hatching be required in elementary schools?
chick-hatching be banned in elementary schools?
teachers and students be allowed to opt-in or opt-out of chick-hatching
b) Frog-Dissection and dissection of other animals and animal-parts
(opt-in and opt-out is now permitted: review Education Law provisions
for dissection of animals in Section 809-4)
animal-dissection be required in elementary schools?
animal-dissection be banned in elementary schools?
teachers and students be allowed to opt-in or opt-out of
animal-dissection projects at the elementary school level?
Is there any local or state legislation regarding the topic
chosen by the students? Your local humane society should be able
to tell you or you can contact the ASPCA Education or
Have each of several groups of students select an organization that
deals with animals and/or animal welfare, including non-profit
organizations, government agencies, and profit-making enterprises.
Ask the students to interview spokespersons about how they achieve
their objectives and help the communities that they serve such as
the local animal-shelter.
to reach the Kid’s Pages of the New York Assembly website. Learn
what the Assembly does. Who is the current Speaker of the Assembly?
Who is your Assembly member (your state representative)?
Learn about the local and federal laws designed to help protect
animals. Visit the ASPCA Law Manual at http://www.aspca.org/site/PageServer?pagename=disclaimer.
You will have to register and select a password to use this site. Try to
get a member of Congress (your federal representative) or member
of the city-council or town board (your local representative) to address
the class concerning the different laws and bills designed to help
HERE for online resources relating to these lessons
NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION, ONE ELK STREET, ALBANY, NY 12207 PH: (518) 463-3200 SECURE FX: (518) 463-5993