Educate Together and DoneDeal launch new programme to promote responsible pet ownership in primary schools

Funded by DoneDeal’s PetAware projects, Educate Together is launching a new programme of lesson plans teaching responsible pet ownership to primary school students. This novel education initiative is the first comprehensive animal welfare primary school curriculum to be developed in Ireland. It is supported closely by Dogs Trust, the ISPCA and Veterinary Ireland, who along with Educate Together have made the lesson plans available for all primary school teachers in any school on their respective websites. The programme will also be hugely beneficial for welfare groups to use as part of their humane education programmes.

The launch took place today in Carrigaline Educate Together School in Cork, and was attended by Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Also in attendance were key members of each organisation involved as well as Fred Karlsson, founder of DoneDeal, who is an avid supporter of animal welfare.

The programme teaches children emotional intelligence with a view to changing the way animals are treated and viewed in the home and society. These unique lesson plans are a collaborative approach with teachers, welfare organisations, veterinary surgeons and industry leaders creating exemplary materials. The learning outcomes will mean children are equipped with the skills to solve problems and make decisions based on critical thinking and evaluations of bias, leading to better treatment and understanding of animals.

The initial trials that were carried out in schools in 2013 highlighted that animals and children have a unique bond, and it was through this that the children really engaged with the lesson plans. Children excel when provided with lessons that are interesting and cover a variety of approaches and activities. This series of lesson plans provide this and open the door for further development in this area.

Commenting on the launch, Minister Coveney stated: “I think it is very important to raise awareness and provide education for the important issue of animal welfare, which is why I am so pleased to be here today. Educating children from a young age about responsible pet ownership is a task that is often overlooked, and I commend the efforts of Educate Together, DoneDeal and all their supporters who are so clearly dedicated to the cause of animal welfare. This is a very welcome development for the country that can be easily rolled out in schools."

Mel Thornton, Principal, Educate Together School Carrigaline, said of the launch event: “This is a very exciting event for the children here at Carrigaline Educate Together that we are delighted to be hosting. Our pupils are greatly looking forward to sharing their lesson plans and showing off the work they have done to date on our animal welfare curriculum. The students also have a wealth of questions for the organisers themselves, and are excited to demonstrate the knowledge they have gleaned to date from this important programme. We hope that this event will greatly benefit our students and at the same time raise awareness for the important issue of animal welfare.”

Discussing the new programme, Fred Karlsson, Founder of DoneDeal, said: “DoneDeal, through its PetAware Project, has been thrilled to support and fund such an important programme for primary school students. Animal welfare has always been very important to us, and I really believe that learning responsibility with animals and pets from a young age plays a huge part in how you interact with them for the rest of your life. It is endearing to see the students of Carrigaline get involved with their lesson plans so enthusiastically, and I am sure this programme will only go from strength to strength in the coming years.”

Paul Rowe, CEO, Educate Together said of the new programme: “Educate Together is delighted to have worked on the development of this unique and important primary school programme. As educators, we are now engaging with the social and emotional life of families as never before. Through the developments of these lessons, we have found that the involvement of pets in the classroom can have a transformative influence for children who encounter social and emotional challenges in the usual social environment. Now that the lessons are online, they will be available to any teacher or educator, anywhere in the world.”

Speaking at the launch, Vivienne Duggan, President of Veterinary Ireland stated that “Veterinary Ireland and the members of its Veterinary Ireland Companion Animal Society (VICAS) were delighted to be approached by DoneDeal to participate in this project to provide learning materials and resources for Educate Together schools. The entire project, aimed at allowing Educate Together pupils to learn about animals and their care, fits perfectly with Veterinary Ireland’s own aims to provide education and information to animal owners throughout Ireland, in order to maintain and improve the health and welfare of the animals under Irish veterinary care. The lesson plans formulated by Educate Together, DoneDeal, and the other partners are very well structured, practical and educational, and Veterinary Ireland is proud to endorse the lesson plans and resource materials to allow pet owners to make informed choices relating to their pet’s health and welfare.”

ISPCA CEO, Dr Andrew Kelly said: "The ISPCA is delighted to be working with Dogs Trust, Veterinary Ireland and Educate Together on this very important animal welfare education initiative being delivered in Educate Together schools. Irresponsible pet ownership is a significant problem in Ireland and only by educating and changing the attitudes of the next generation of pet owners can we hope to improve animal welfare in this country. These lesson plans to be delivered as part of the curriculum and will allow children to understand the responsibilities involved in owning an animal and will give them the knowledge they need to source and care for pets responsibly. I hope that this initiative can be rolled out to all schools in Ireland over time and that irresponsible pet ownership will eventually be a thing of the past.’’

Fiona Simpson, Senior Education Officer, Dogs Trust, said: “We are very excited to be part of this great initiative and truly believe that educating young people of today into becoming the responsible dog owners of tomorrow is the way forward for animal welfare in Ireland. We have worked very closely with Educate Together, and other stakeholders to compile a set of school lesson plans that incorporates the Dogs Trust Ethos and focuses on caring for animals and animal welfare.”


The lesson plans can be downloaded at these  websites – 

Veterinary Ireland:


Dogs Trust:



Picturd below are Minister Simon Coveney TD; Mel Thornton, Principal, Carrigaline ETNS; Fred Karlsson, Done Deal; Paul Rowe, CEO, Educate Together with pupils of Carrigaline ETNS