Trustee calls for protection for classroom pets

A Greater Victoria school trustee is calling for more protections for animals in the classroom.

Diane McNally is asking the district to develop a policy in line with animal-welfare guidelines. Her motion goes before the board tonight. 

"My foundational concern here comes from my years as a teacher in School District 61, seeing classroom pets left behind in fire drills and earthquake drills," says McNally. 

After last summer's wildfires in the BC interior, the SPCA  has been calling on school districts to develop emergency procedures for classroom pets. 

Currently, there is no animal-evacuation plan in the Greater Victoria district.

"When it comes down to disaster planning, we're teaching children that animals' lives don't matter," says McNally.

The BC SPCA has several recommendations for keeping animals in classrooms. For instance, teachers should be solely responsible for the animals' care on evenings and weekends. Also, wild or exotic animals should be banned from classrooms, along with hatching and breeding programs. 

Animal handling is another concern.

In her days as a teacher, McNally says she witnessed many concerning incidents, including students throwing a hampster. "Not every child understands the needs of an animal and how to handle them and how to care for them," she said. 

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