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Humane Society of Huron Valley Receives Grant for 'High Risk' Youth Program

The James A. Knight Foundation grant will be used for programs to teach youths proper animal care.

Editor's note: This press release was submitted by the Humane Society of Huron Valley.

The Humane Society of Huron Valley’s Humane Education Department recently received a $44,000 grant from the James A. and Faith Knight Foundation to expand services particularly to high risk young people.

Animal cruelty is a serious problem in Washtenaw County. HSHV investigates approximately 500 reports of animal cruelty each year. In the last two years, 60 offenders have been convicted and charged with either a misdemeanor or felony animal cruelty offense.

“It is well documented that early abusers of animals often go on to engage in violence and other antisocial acts. Humane Education is a growing field focused on cultivating compassion and respect toward living beings. Studies have shown the importance of empathy development and humane education is an effective means to do that," Karen Patterson, HSHV’s director of Humane Education said.

The goal of the program is to break the cycle of animal abuse that children often learn through poor role modeling. HSHV’s Humane Education program is designed so that children learn more about the animal welfare issues in Washtenaw County.

“This grant will help expand activities with high risk youth in Washtenaw County, like our current partnership with the Washtenaw County Juvenile Detention Center," Patterson said.

HSHV staff work with youth offenders to teach them how to properly care for animals, how to read, understand and respond to animal body language, and how their daily choices can affect the lives of animals.

“We have realized how much of an effect we are having on the youth through this program when one of the youth participants brought her mom to tour our shelter the day after she was released from the detention center," Patterson said.

CEO Tanya Hilgendorf said grant funding is critical for the successful growth of programs at the humane society.

"We are extremely grateful to the James A. and Faith Knight Foundation for supporting efforts to develop empathy in children at an early age and helping them become caring, responsible adult citizens,” Higendorf said in a written statement.

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