Teachers can get a free classroom pet—even if they’re teaching virtually

Researchers at the American Humane Association found that having pets in classrooms provides numerous benefits to children. Caring for a classroom pet encourages responsibility and leadership, helps students feel calm and relaxed during stressful moments and enhances science and nature lessons. Kids learn compassion and accountability as well.

Even now, when many schools are limited to virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers are bringing classroom critters along to livestreams and Zoom classes.

If you are a teacher considering the addition of a small classroom pet, you could qualify for a grant to help you purchase and provide care for a new animal friend.

Pets in the Classroom is an educational grant program established by the Pet Care Trust with support from the World Pet Association, Pet Industry Distributors Association and Animal Pet Products Association, Inc. The purpose of the program is provide children with opportunities to interact with a variety of pets.

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The program provides grants to teachers who want to buy and care for small animals, such as guinea pigs, parakeets or fish, in their classrooms. Teachers wishing to apply for funding should find out whether they meet qualifications, choose a pet and select a grant option.

There are two main requirements:

  • You must be a pre-K through 9th-grade teacher at a public or private school in the U.S. or Canada.
  • This must be your first time applying for a Pets in the Classroom grant.

If you have previously received funds from the program, you could still be eligible for a $50 sustaining grant to help with the maintenance of your current classroom pet.

If you are a qualified candidate, you should know the type of pet you wish to purchase before applying, since some grant options differ depending on the animal you wish to get and which retailer you wish to buy from.

The program provides several resources that can help with this decision, such as care information on specific classroom pets and advice on handling grief in the classroom if the animal should die.

Finally, you can choose a store partner in your area where you will use the grant or decide to choose a rebate grant instead, and submit your application. Note that there will likely still be some out-of-pocket costs, even if you are approved. All qualifying teachers who apply will receive a grant, according to the application.

Applications are currently being accepted for the 2020-2021 school year through June 1, 2021. To find out more or to apply, visit PetsintheClassroom.org.


Tricia Goss @triciagoss

Tricia is a professional writer and editor who lives in North Texas with her family and one smelly dog. She is a wannabe problem solver, junk food maven professional coffee practitioner, web guru and general communicator.

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