Your Federal Tax Dollars Working for 'Tolerance and Empathy'

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:21 PM EDT

( - With an assist from Colorado's two U.S. senators, the Denver-based American Humane organization is getting federal tax dollars "to teach Colorado schoolchildren tolerance and empathy through a relationship with animals."

Thanks to the efforts of U.S. Sens. Wayne Allard and Ben Nighthorse Campbell (both Republicans), American Humane said it has received "a federal appropriations award" to bring its message into Colorado schools.

The funds - no amount specified -- were appropriated through the U.S. Department of Education Fund for the Improvement of Education Account, the group said in the press release.

American Humane said it intends to expand existing educational programs that help students and communities learn to prepare for and care for animals during natural and /or manmade disasters. The curriculum will also include general information about the proper care of animals.

"If we are ever going to be successful in ending the cycle of violence in our society, we must build empathy and humane behavior within children when they are young," said Suzanne Barnard, American Humane's vice president of public policy.

"Thanks to Sens. Allard and Campbell, we will be able to take the message of humane education to schoolchildren across Colorado," Barnard added.

In the past, American Humane has partnered with cable affiliate Animal Planet in a nationwide effort to spread the word about how to prepare for and care for animals during disasters. The federal tax money will allow American Humane to continue this work independently, it said.

American Humane said it received the award based on its "126-year-old tradition as a national leader in professional education, training, advocacy, research, and evaluation related to child and animal welfare."

American Humane noted that in 2002, it presented Sen. Allard with its 2001 Humane Legislator of the Year Award for supporting measures that better the lives of children and animals.

Recently, Sen. Allard sponsored the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act and anti-cockfighting legislation, included in the 2001 farm bill.

Sen. Nighthorse Campbell recently supported the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act, the Captive Wildlife Safety Act, and a resolution recognizing the social problem of child abuse and neglect.

"Both senators recognize the power and impact that interaction with animals can have on school-age children," said Barnard. "We sincerely appreciate their continued interest and support."

American Humane's website says since 1915, it has promoted humane education with its trademarked "Be Kind to Animals Week."

Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.