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By Liz R. Kover
Animal Assisted Activities Director Marleys Mutts Dog Rescue 

Students PLEDG(e) to Make a Difference

It's a Dog's Life


Marley's Mutts Dog Rescue has an extended community of impassioned supporters that spans the globe. Affectionately branded "The Mutt Militia", this group is nearly a million strong, its members' allegiance to dog rescue is a growing force in bettering conditions for animals worldwide. A primary goal of Marley's Mutts' Outreach and Education division is to instill, in a younger legion of animal advocates, the same lion-hearted drive to make lasting change, right here on their home soil.

Through classroom visits, all-school assemblies, reading initiatives, and now a brand new 8-week course we're rolling out in elementary school classrooms across Kern County, we continue to build up our Mutt Militia Youth Corps: a new generation of pet guardians who will battle the enemy forces of abuse, neglect, and abandonment that plague companion animals the world over, nowhere more glaringly than here in our own community. We wish to impart that "fighting the good fight" for animals is a noble assignment, and one at which every child can succeed. And our job as rescuers and community educators is to empower kids with awareness, knowledge, and experience that lend to success on the battlefield.

Our custom designed curriculum is called PLEDG (Tomorrow): Positive Leadership Enterprise for the Dog Guardians of Tomorrow. Participating students pledge to recognize the problems facing us today, and become a proactive part of the solution for a kinder, more compassionate tomorrow.

Classrooms participating in PLEDG raise money for Marley's Mutts through an online giving platform, offering students the chance to make a tangible and measurable difference in their own community. In an effort to shift the paradigm of animals-asproperty to animals-as-family, students learn how similar dogs' needs are to humans', and become better able to relate to dogs as sentient, emotional beings -- like themselves -- versus "just animals". In addition to broadened understanding and deepened respect for animals, the PLEDG curriculum equips students with skills they can use down the road should they choose a career in the animal field. Through fun, engaging, hands-on and project-based learning with Marley's Mutts' Therapy Dog team, students become adept dog walkers, handlers, and trainers using science-based, positive reinforcement training methods.

The PLEDG program also offers Scouts an experiential platform for earning animal and dog care badges, belt loops and pins, all while clocking volunteer hours with a decorated community organization. As an 8-week course for Scouts, or students in grades 3-5, PLEDG provides a unique and innovative way to implement PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports) framework and Common Core learning standards, all while instilling the principles of Respect for Self & Others, Proactive Communication & Goal Setting, Responsibility & Leadership Skills, Emotional & Physical Energy Management, Social Dynamics & Cooperation, and Fostering Independence & Self-Confidence.

Bringing children and dogs together for the advancement of both is as winning a situation as one will find when looking to make education fun, different, and impactful in a whole new way!

If you are a teacher or Scout leader in Kern County and wish to learn more, please contact Liz Kover, Director of the Miracle Mutts program with Marley's Mutts Dog Rescue, at


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