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Classroom Pets
A guide for teachers
Information on the Animal Welfare Act 1985 and the Australian Code of Practice

Classroom pets
Definition: A classroom pet is an animal kept in a school which the children/students do not touch, handle, feed, water, clean out, exercise or have any responsibility for. Classroom pets are not kept to meet any specific educational or curriculum objectives.
The appropriate keeping of animals as pets in schools can enrich the learning environment for students. Observing the behaviour of classroom pets can encourage students to learn about themselves, the nature of life and the environment in which they live. Positive attitudes towards animals can also foster values that promote sensitivity to the needs of all living organisms, including other humans. Teachers must be aware of the difference between keeping classroom pets and using animals for teaching purposes.   Classroom pets are kept to enrich the learning environment. The keeping of classroom pets is ‘noted’ by an Animal Ethics Committees (AEC). Animals used for teaching are kept to meet specific educational or curriculum objectives. The use of animals for teaching purposes must be ‘approved’ by an Animal Ethics Committee (AEC).

What teachers need to know
If you wish to keep classroom pets you must:  inform the AEC in your teaching sector, have experience in keeping the chosen species of animal,  provide the animal(s) with adequate food, water and shelter,  supervise students when they are near or observing the animal,  provide weekend, holiday and veterinary care, know the difference between a classroom pet and an animal used for teaching purposes.

Animal ethics committees
For more information on classroom pets or using animals for teaching purposes contact the Animal Ethics Committee in your teaching sector: Department of Education and Children’s Services (DECS) Tel (08) 8207-1806 Non-Government Schools Tel: (08) 8179 1421 (AISSA) Tel: (08) 8301 6830 (CESA)

Before you get the animal(s)
Before you inform the AEC in your teaching sector that you are planning to keep a classroom pet, you should be able to answer the following questions:  Why did you chose that species?  Where will you get the animal(s) from?  How many animals will you get?  Is the species suitable for a classroom?  Should you get males or females?  Can you provide an appropriate and safe habitat for the animal(s)?  Can you easily provide the right food?  Do you have experience in keeping this species?  Can you provide adequate opportunity for the animal(s) to exercise?  Do you know how they reproduce?  What will you do with offspring if they do reproduce?  What weekend and holiday care arrangements will you make?  Who will provide veterinary treatment if the animal(s) is sick or injured?

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Are there any health risks associated with the keeping this species? Is this species poisonous or dangerous in any way? Do you need a permit to keep this species? What will you do with the animal(s) if you decide not to keep a classroom pet any more? What will happen to the animal(s) if you are on holiday, sick or leave the school? Do you understand the difference between a classroom pet and using animals for the purpose of teaching?

Under the South Australian Animal Welfare Act 1985, no person may use an animal for teaching purposes unless they are working under a licence issued, by the Minister for Environment and Conservation, to an institution or they are licensed themselves. An Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) must approve all teaching projects before they start and projects must be carried out in accordance with the directions of that Committee. AECs keep records of Classroom Pets kept in their sector; teachers wishing to keep classroom pets should contact their AEC before they acquire the animal(s).

The code of practice
Compliance with the Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes, 2004, 7th Edition is a legal requirement when using animals for teaching purposes. Breaches of the Code can incur penalties under the Animal Welfare Act 1985 Copies of the Code can be downloaded at: www.

For more information
Animal Welfare Unit Department for Environment and Heritage GPO BOX 1047 Adelaide sa 5000 Tel: (08) 8124 4800 Fax (08) 8463 4818
Information in this publication is provided as general advice only. It does not encompass all sections of the Act and Code relevant to the use of animals for teaching purposes. The Department for Environment and Heritage has taken all reasonable steps to ensure the accuracy of the information contained at the time of publication. Date of Publication November 2008 FIS 80215 Government of South Australia

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