top 10 apps for kids who love animals

Got a kiddo who is crazy about animals? There's an app for that. These days, you can find an app to satisfy almost any interest, but with so many options out there, how do we determine which ones are best for our kids? Look no further. We've summarized a selection of apps that are great for kids from toddlers to tweens. These apps will educate and entertain at minimal cost, and some are even free. Check out our top ten:

top 10 apps for kids who love animals

top 10 apps for kids who love animals

top 10 apps for kids who love animals

ANAMALIA: ages 5+, $2.99 ($3.99 for the iPad version)

This app pairs gorgeous illustrations with learning about animals, the alphabet, and vocabulary. 

Education: The Animalia app is based on an alphabet picture book of the same name. The graphics in the app mimic the gorgeous illustrations of the book, and three separate games help kids learn the alphabet and new vocabulary words. Excellent for emerging readers.

Fun Factor: In addition to being an e-book, this app has three guessing games that are fun and challenging, so they will keep your new reader interested and coming back for more.

Safety: Security is good, and this app is relatively safe. There is an option to share your score on Facebook. There are links to the author’s web site.

Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad


This wildlife trivia app incorporates video and puzzle questions.

Education: Elementary-aged kids and even pre-teens will enjoy learning and being quizzed about wildlife animals. There are multiple levels of difficulty, and the game is played in rounds. Kids will need strong reading skills, as each question has a fifteen-second time limit. 

Fun Factor: Scores are saved and tracked in the game center, and the challenge of answering trivia puzzles in different forms with a time-limit is exciting.

Safety: Link to more games from the developer and to the Discovery Chanel web site. Users can upload avatar photos, where their location, post on message boards, connect with Facebook and Twitter, and access live chat with strangers. These features can be turned off.

Platforms: Android, iPhone, iPodTouch, iPad 

BUBBLE GUPPIES: ANIMAL SCHOOL DAY: preschool, $2.99-$4.99

The characters from the popular Nick Jr. TV show, Bubble Guppies, take preschoolers on an interactive adventure as they learn about ten wild animals.

Education: Young children learn about the characteristics, habitat, and diet of ten wild animals. They tap, drag, swipe, and sort, so the app helps with developmental skills such as categorization and fine motor development. 

Fun Factor: Any fan of Bubble Guppies will love the interactive games, sprinkled with jokes and silly encouragement.

Safety: No safety concerns or in-app purchases.

Platforms: Android, iPhone, iPodTouch, iPad, KindleFire

PEEKABOO BARN FARM DAY: preschool, $2.99

Talk about adorable! This app will be a hit with the preschool crowd.

Education: This cute app is easy for young children to play. They are introduced to responsibility in taking care of the animals, which include a dog, cat, cow, sheep, duck, chicken, pig, and llama. Toddlers will also be exposed to the concepts of dawn, day, and night as they wake the animals, care for them, and put them to sleep. Though not all of the animal interactions are true-to life, it's a great first exposure to farm life for young animal lovers. Preschoolers can test their reasoning skills and creativity.

Fun Factor: The animals are adorable, and young children love the interactions and the fun of taking care of each animal from dawn to dusk. Wake the animals with a rooster crow, and put them to sleep at dusk. Kids can explore the app by tapping and discovering new interactions.

Safety: No personal information is collected. There is a link to "other apps," but written directions must be followed in order to access them, so it is unlikely preschoolers would be able to access the link.

Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad


Learn about animal and watch them live on zoo webcams.

Education: Pocket Zoo lets us watch animals from zoos around the world via live webcams. It includes photos, animal facts, and animal sounds. You can look up animals from a list or from the "map" page, which looks like a zoo map. The combination of information provided with being able to check out the animals live is educational and fun for all ages.

Fun Factor: What could be more fun than checking out real animals on webcams? Older children can send email messages and tweets about what they are watching.

Safety: Though the email and tweet options are fun, they can be disabled for younger children, and require a username and password. There is a link to the Pocket Zoo store in the "more" section.

Platforms: Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad


Who isn't fascinated by ants? This interactive ebook will satisfy any young scientist's curiosity. 


Education: I love the fact that this educational ebook offers three reading levels: beginner (with narration), intermediate, and advanced. The app offers detailed information about different types of ants. The illustrations are beautiful and engaging. The book even delves into what human society can learn from ants and the similarities and differences. Builds science, vocabulary, and reading skills.

Fun Factor: An ant treks across the screen and offers bonus information when tapped.

Safety: Outside resource links. 

Platforms: iPad

TOCA PET DOCTOR: preschool, $2.99

Toca Pet Doctor is a great first app for preschool aged kids who want to care for a virtual pet.

Education: This app introduces pet care and empathy for our youngest animal lovers. Children nurse fifteen sick or injured animals back to health. They use their reasoning skills to determine which simple cure will help the animals.

Fun Factor: The animals are super cute, and the app is "free-play," so there are no rules. It's easy to play and requires little if no guidance.

Safety: An icon on the main screen leads to another Toca app, but this can be disabled. No personal data is collected in the app.

Platforms: Android, iPhone, iPodTouch, iPad, KindleFire

TOUCH PETS DOGS (2)/TOUCH PETS CATS (2): ages 8+, free

Two apps, one for dogs, and one for cats, these are part silly and part real with a great message for elementary-aged kids.

Education: Kids will virtually care for their pets and watch them thrive as they make real-world decisions. The apps encourage pet adoption over purchasing, which is a great message. Kids learn about basic pet care, responsibility, ethics and respect.

Fun Factor: You can take your pets on missions, and be silly as dogs and cats work towards career goals. The satisfaction of doing a great job caring for pets and watching them thrive is fun, in itself.

Safety: This app is designed for elementary-aged kids. There are in-app purchases and post the status of their pet to social media. 

Platforms: Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad


The World Book's World of Animals app allows an in-depth, comparative look at over 200 animals with beautiful pictures.

Education: With over 200 living and extinct animals to explore, this app teaches about detailed characteristics. Each animal has its own page that includes photos and information about the species, scientific name, physical characteristics, diet, habitat, predators, and conservation status. Animals can be browsed and even compared and ranked based on various characteristics. Multiple-choice quizzes test kids on what they have learned.

Fun Factor: The beautiful pictures and ability to compare animals will keep kids coming back for more. It's like an interactive encyclopedia! The interface is easy and encourages exploration.

Safety: No discovered security concerns.

Platforms: iPad

ZOOLA Animals: preschool, free lite version/full version $3.99

Little ones will love the animal sounds and pictures. Common Sense Media describes it as "the 21st-century version of the See 'n' Say pull-the-string toy."

Education: Preschoolers will see real animal pictures, hear the animal sound, and identify the animal. Simple interface and multiple pictures of the same type of animal will reinforce identification. Children can start to distinguish between adult and baby animals as well as male and female.

Fun Factor: Toddlers and preschoolers love to see the animal pictures and hear the animal sounds. There are animal identification games, and you can even submit your own photos with your own pets.

Safety: No in-app purchases. You can submit your own photos, but this is likely too complicated without parental help. 

Platforms: Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Kindle Fire

guidelines are great, but always consider your child's individual needs 

When it comes to getting the scoop on apps I’m considering for my children, I like to make sure that the programs my children are interacting with are appropriate and of high quality. I always turn to Common Sense Media when doing my research. Common Sense Media is a fantastic web site that rates apps, video games, and movies from the perspectives of the manufacturer/proucer, parents, and kids. The site provides the most well-rounded look at things that I’ve come across.

Every kiddo is different, so the age ranges noted here are guidelines. Some younger kids are ready to explore more advanced apps, and some older children might not yet be ready for the more challenging apps. Always research for yourself and select the best apps for your children based on their interests and ability levels.

Has your child tried any of these apps? Do you or your child have any favorite animal apps to share? We'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!

This article, written by me, originally appeared on Brie Brie Blooms and is reposted here with minor changes with permission.

All images courtesy of






animals in an umbrella: the kindergarten project from hell

Every Friday I spend two hours volunteering at the littles' school. I spend every other Friday in Campbell's class and every other Friday in Porter's. Campbell's kindergarten teacher likes me to come in on the afternoons she has meetings so I can help the teacher's aide. It's a pretty good routine we've got worked out.

The other day, she said she had a "great" project coming up for me to help with. "Awesome," I said. "Can't wait." Since we're all just returning from fall break and getting back into the routine has left me a bit scattered, I sent her a text the next day:


I didn't catch on to the evil nature of the emoticon grin.

So this past Friday, I happily presented myself to Ms. Lacey*, the T.A., at the agreed-upon time. She was just starting to read a story to the class for their "author study." You see, each quarter, the class studies a particular author. Throughout the quarter they read books by that author, learn about the author's life, and do projects themed around that author's body of work.

"Who can name the author we are studying this quarter?" Ms. Lacey asked.

Everyone raised their hands, but Hailey was selected to answer "Jan Brett."

"Correct!" said Ms. Lacey. And today we'll be reading this book (holding up said book), "The Umbrella."

I'm a sucker for any book that involves animals, so I was pleased to see a bunch of them on the cover. Ms. Lacey pointed out the incredibly detailed illustrations. Since the kindergartners are learning how to add detail to their pictures, it was the perfect opportunity to drive home how much difference detail makes. Almost as if the teachers had planned it that way.

As Ms. Lacey read the story, I drifted in and out of paying attention, eager to get on with the show. Had I only known that this time would be my only piece of sanity for the next two hours...

After Ms. Lacey finished reading the story about animals riding in an umbrella through the rainforest (the vital plot point I gathered during the moments I was paying attention), she announced that the students would have the opportunity to make their own umbrellas with animals in them! Excitement mounted as the children disengaged their criss-cross applesauce poses and moved from the cozy rug to their tables.

Ms. Lacey handed me a stack of papers with outlines of the animal characters who appeared in The Umbrella. I passed them out as she instructed the children to "color the animals with colored pencils, and try to add as much detail as Jan Brett did in her illustrations. I know you are all budding Jan Bretts!"

As I passed out the coloring sheets, I noticed that most of the colored pencils in cups on the tables were very dull. "Ms. Lacey, would it be helpful if I sharpened some of the colored pencils, or would the sound be too disruptive?"

"That would be great," she said.

I got out the sharpener, plugged it in, and inserted the first dull pencil. That's when the madness began.

The sound of the pencil sharpener elicited a Pavlovian response in the tiny humans. A dozen of the twenty-one kindergarteners in the class were lined up behind me with their colors of choice.  

"Mrs. Carr, this brown isn't sharp."

"Mrs. Carr, I need the blue sharpened."

"Mrs. Carr, will you please sharpen the yellow and the green for me?"

"Mrs. Carr...

"Mrs. Carr...

"Mrs. Carr...

Riley said, "Mrs. Carr, I can sharpen my own pencil...see...but which hole should I put the pencil in?..." she trailed off as I watched her tiny finger go directly into the sharpening hole. "NO!" I snapped, grasping her hand and saving her finger from a gory fate. "Do NOT put your finger in the hole. Pencils only."

"Okay," she smiled, cheerful and unknowing.

While I recovered from the heart attack, the line behind me grew. Bennett appeared for the fourth time and presented me with a perfectly sharp pencil. "Mrs. Carr, this yellow isn't sharp." 

I examined it. "Yes it is."

"No, it's not. If you look closely, the very tippy-tip is flat."

"Bennett, I know it's fun to sharpen pencils, but there is a big line, and I'm not going to sharpen pencils that don't need sharpening."

"But this one definitely needs sharpening."

"It doesn't."

"It does."

"It doesn't."

"Yes it doeeeeeeeeeeees."

"Bennett, go back to your seat."

"But this yellow isn't sharp."

"Then go find another yellow. I'm not sharpening that pencil," I said, finally, beating my head against the wall.

Relief sprang in Ms. Lacey's voice. "Mrs. Carr, would you like to help me with the next step of the project?"

Fu¢k, yes. "I'd be happy to, Ms. Lacey. What would you like me to do?" I inquired.

"If you can work with one table (of five), I'll work with another. The tables we are working with can take a break from coloring for this part of the project, and then finish up afterwards. You'll need to provide each child with a sheet of white construction paper, a brown umbrella handle, and a wax paper 'umbrella' to cut out. They should glue only the bottom portion of the umbrella to the page with a glue stick so that it creates a pocket for the animals. That might be challenging.  Then a tray of glue with paintbrushes and a pie pan full of multicolored tissue paper squares to make the umbrella colorful. They can either paint the umbrella with glue and attach the tissue paper or they can paint each tissue paper square and attach it. OR, they can put the tissue paper on the umbrella and then paint the glue over the tissue paper because it will also stick like that." I started to zone out as if I was listening to the Peanuts teacher.

It was then when I began to understand the true nature of the "great" project and realized I was going to have to buck up for this. How was she maintaining composure in the face of it?

I played it off. I think I played it off. I'm sure my eyes were the size of saucers. "Okay...sure." I deliberately chose to work with a table that had four children instead of five. Two girls and two boys. Not the one with four boys. Not the one with the trouble-maker.

I gathered the required materials and approached my chosen table. "Hi, guys. Can we put down the coloring for a minute? I'm going to help you make the umbrellas!" I may as well have been speaking Chinese. They continued to color, not looking up.

I spoke slightly louder and with a smidge more authority. "Alright. Let's put the coloring away and move on to the next step! We're going to make the umbrellas!"

They looked at me and blinked their eyes, then went back to coloring.

"Ooooookay. I'm going to take away your coloring sheets for a few minutes while we do the next part of the project." I warned them as I removed the writing utensils and animal pages from the table. They looked a little pissed, but whatever. I glanced over at Mrs. Lacey's table, and her five children (including my daughter) were halfway done. The race was on. 

I passed out the white construction paper, and they all scrawled their names on their sheets. Sweet. I didn't think of that. It took me five minutes to get them to orient their construction paper vertically. I made the mistake of putting the "painting glue" on the table prior to the "painting glue part" of the project. They all picked up their glue-soaked paintbrushes. "Hold on..." I begged. Already, this had gotten out of control.

I am not one who has a great deal of patience for groups (more than one) of children who are not related to me by blood. Four at the table was an all-out intimidation factor. They didn't wait for directions, but simply plunged into for different tasks involving the materials I had prematurely placed within reach, none of which were correct, and all of which were messy. Did I mention I also have an aversion to messes?

While Leslie quickly glued her umbrella handle upside down, Stephen had painted the wrong part of the paper with the glue and Grace colored the construction paper. It took me eight seconds to shift my gaze to Carter, and by that time, the palms of his hands and fingers were completely covered in glue and tissue paper, robbing him of any function whatsoever. Maybe that wasn't such a bad thing. Could I just glue all of the children to the table? Because I didn't see a pause button on any of them.

"Carter, let's start fresh. Please go to the sink and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water," I directed. I'd be down to three kids, if only for a moment.

As soon as Carter got to the sink and my back was turned toward the table, I heard Ms. Lacey's voice. "Carter, you can't possibly be done with the project...should you be washing your hands?" Carter shot me a quick look.

I interjected. "Ms. Lacey, he was basically covered with glue and tissue paper, so I asked him to wash his hands...everything was sticking to him." 

"Oh. Okay..." she seemed to approve. 

I then removed all of the supplies from the table. "Okay. One thing at a time," I said more for my own reassurance than for their benefit. We worked through the steps together, and though there were quite a few misguided cuts and sloppily-placed blobs of glue, the five of us survived, and they each had an umbrella on paper. Basically.

I considered lingering a bit longer at the table in hopes that Ms. Lacey could cover all four other tables in the time it took me to finish up, but no such luck. Ms. Lacey handed me a new set of supplies. I knew enough, now, to not place everything on the table at the same time. This second table should go much better.

Only table number two had an entirely different problem. An opposite problem. The children didn't dive into tasks with reckless abandon. Instead, they just took off. They scattered in different directions. They couldn't go out of the confines of the classroom, but it was still like herding cats. It seems none of the children at table two were very interested in doing anything at all. Except Jack. Jack was banging his fist on the metal file cabinet. He was busy.

"Mrs. Carr," Ms. Lacey addressed me.

"Yes?" I turned around with giant eyes.

She giggled with me in solidarity, finally, and said "I'm so glad you're here today. If it wasn't for would be just me." I thought she might have been better off, but I was relieved to know she didn't feel that way. 

"This is insane," I confessed.

She laughed more. "Maybe you can help Jack get started. He'll need someone to sit with him."

Jack is a special needs child. He has a great heart and is as cute as cute can be, but he can be quite challenging in the classroom. I'd take it, though. I'd take one kid to the twenty Ms. Lacey was handling. Seemed like I drew the long straw this time. Since I hadn't worked closely with Jack before, I asked Ms. Lacey a bit about his abilities and what to expect. I wondered exactly what I should let him do on his own and how much help he'd need with each aspect of the project. Ms. Lacey simply said "Watch the scissors, he tends to go like this..." She held a pair of scissors close to her own eyes and opened and shut them rapidly to demonstrate.

Um. Okay.

I took Jack gently by the hand, removing him from the file cabinet. I took a pair of scissors and the wax paper and hoped for a smooth start. Jack sat down the first time I asked. And then, the scissors. Just as Ms. Lacey said. I asked him to please stop and managed to get my hand around the implement before it could do any damage to him or me. "Do you know how to hold the scissors, Jack? Let me help you." We held them together, and I was proud that he managed to cut while I guided the paper. I have to admit that I was a bit nervous that one of us would end up in the nurse's office, but we managed. 

Then came the glue. At first, Jack didn't want any part of the glue. Having tactile-sensitivity, the sticky substance wasn't his favorite. After much going back and forth and retrieving him from various parts of the classroom, we finally worked out a system. each time he glued a square of tissue paper onto his umbrella, we'd high-five. He liked to high-five. Again, I was proud I'd figured out how to get through to him. 

All was going along well until some of the glue transferred from Jack's hand to mine. It was a microscopic amount on my pointer finger, but Jack felt it every time we high-fived, and it bothered him. He started to pick at it, which was a bit painful, but okay with me. I got him to leave it alone for a while, but then he'd come back to it. When he couldn't remove it (it may have been skin hanging off and not glue at this point), he took my finger into his mouth and started to try to bite it off. "Oh, no, no, Jack. Let's not put my fingers in your mouth." He tried again and again, and I determined that both of us had reached the limit of our patience for the project. I let him go back to the file cabinet as I admired our half-finished umbrella.

I went back to surveying the entire class, and realized that while I'd been so focused on Jack, the other students were all finishing coloring their animal sheet and began to cut out the animals. Many of the children were in various stages of distress, some crying because they accidentally cut the leopard's leg off. Others had lost their toucans. One child was being accused of stealing another's tapir.

"Okay, friends!" Ms. Lacey chimed. "It's almost time to clean up, so please finish up. If you don't have all of your animals finished, you can bring them home to finish."

Oh. Thank. God. 

My daughter, Campbell, who I'd all but forgotten about, hopped over to me and gave me a big hug. "I finished mine, Mama. Do you want to see it?" I couldn't think of anything better to do at that moment. Of course, I wanted to see it. At least one child had finished the project, and she was mine. I hadn't spent a moment with her at all during the past two hours, but she didn't seem to mind. She probably loved watching me flounder.

Campbell's finished product.

Campbell's finished product.

I enjoyed the moment of parental pride, but I was exhausted. I needed a drink. And then I turned around and saw the messy aftermath that was "The Umbrella Project."

That's when Campbell's teacher walked in.

My eyes shot daggers at her. She laughed. She knew exactly what she'd done.

But I love her anyway. She and Ms. Lacey are awesome. I'll just make sure to ask more specifically about the nature of the project I'm signing myself up to assist with. My bad. My bad.

On a positive note, the kids learned a bunch about animals and the rainforest and how to draw a detailed picture. 

P.S. I don't do field trips.

It's all in the details.

It's all in the details.

Book jacket photo source:

*Names have been changed.

The Animal History Museum: Understanding and Celebrating the Human-Animal Bond

Animal_History_MuseumII_biggerThe grand opening date may still be in question, but the mission is not.

The Animal History Museum is the first museum dedicated to understanding and celebrating the human-animal bond. Its purpose is to serve and educate the public through the creation of a museum in Los Angeles County, California, for the collection, preservation and exploration of the history, culture, science, and law relating to the relationship between human and non-human animals; by presenting exhibitions, lectures and other activities that are consistent with, and supportive of, the museum's educational goals and purpose.


I spoke with Amy Breyer, Executive Director and President of the museum's Board of Trustees, about how the museum was conceived, what it's all about, and what the status is on the grand opening. Ms. Breyer has spent most of her career in Chicago practicing animal law, and I got the feeling from her that however stressful working on a museum opening may be, she feels like it's a breath of fresh air. She said that though she didn't wish to practice litigation any longer–after opening and running Illinois' first animal law practice–she wanted to "bring up these concepts in a non-confrontational setting." Her passion for the project is insatiable, and she's humble as can be. Though the museum is her brain-child, she was much more comfortable talking about the elite team of "pioneering individuals in all disciplines related to animals" that she has surrounded herself with. "It's a privilege to know these people," she said.

Ms. Breyer began working on the Los Angeles-area (a specific site is still in the works) museum with her founding board, and though the museum is not yet a physical building, after speaking to Breyer and looking over their online exhibits, I feel as if I've already visited it. Breyer is warm and smart and informative, which is exactly what I imagine the Animal History Museum to be.

So what's the scoop? Breyer and her team are in various stages of discussion regarding pinning down a site for the physical museum. She's not exactly sure when it will open, but projects that we won't have to wait much longer. In the meantime, the online gallery her team has curated is nothing short of spectacular. The online gallery currently has six exhibits including fine art, historical photography, and even art and stories culminating from social media.

I asked Breyer about these non-traditional exhibits that were curated from social media. She explained that the exhibits Breaking Stereotypes: America's Pit Bull Rescues & the Human-Animal Bond and Single, Experienced Animal Seeks Mature, Loving Relationship: Stories of Older Animal Adoption were a surprising result of Facebook contests. The Animal History Museum received such an overwhelming number of quality submissions that the sensation evolved into a community, of sorts, from which the exhibitions were born. I found this fascinating both in the role that social media can play in the development of such an exhibition and how open Breyer is to taking advantage of societal trends to create exhibits that people will not only be naturally drawn to, but that they can participate in, all in the name of animals.

Both these innovative exhibitions and the museum's more traditional exhibitions will be featured online and in the museum, some on a rotating basis, and some permanent. Even when the physical museum opens, Breyer plans to continue to grow the online gallery, both as a support to the museum and as its own entity with separate, unique content. Upon entering the online gallery, the museum's Web site states:

The Animal History Museum plans to make its online gallery an important part of its mission–both as a way of giving you, our guest a taste of what the brick-and-mortar museum will offer once it opens–as well as growing along side it once the museum opens its doors as a vibrant, integral complement to our physical collections.

Like our brick-and-mortar plans, the online gallery will feature both permanent collections as well as rotating ones. We believe it to be the first permanent, virtual museum collection dedicated to all things animal anywhere in the world.

Throughout my conversation with Breyer, she was reluctant to toot her own horn, and quick to highlight the efforts of her contributors, scholars from all over the English-speaking world. "No one person is a museum all to themselves," she stated. Aside from being pioneers in their chosen field, these initial contributors–now two dozen individuals–"didn't have a place to put their work in front of a mainstream audience," Breyer explained. Some of these individuals are highly specialized and are doing groundbreaking work, so to have them contribute to this collection and to be able to see all of their efforts come together is quite special.

Piers Locke

Breyer holds all of her contributers in high regard and mentioned Piers Locke as an excellent example of the pioneering work these people are doing. She explained to me that Locke is instrumental in creating a new field, that of elephantology. Though Breyer is well-versed in Locke's work, she spoke about this emerging field like an excited little girl as she shared information with me regarding these studies in human/elephant interaction, including the elephant's role as worker, protector, and companion. Her passion shone. As a New Zealand-lecturer in Anthropology, Locke has found a new audience with the Animal History Museum. The museum Web site describes that Locke

is pioneering the nascent field of elepantology, through his efforts conducting historical and ethnographic research involving elephant and human communities in Chitwan, Nepal since 2001. This research raises issues in: apprenticeship learning and expert knowledge, practice and identity in total institutions, human-animal intimacies and the ritual veneration of elephants, and the role of captive elephant management in nature tourism, protected area management and biodiversity conservation.

It's no wonder Breyer is so excited about the work contributors such as Locke are doing.

What's next? The museum is currently working on an exhibit of Seth Casteel's Underwater Dogs, scheduled to open this month in the online gallery.

In it's quest to open the facility, the Animal History Museum is offering the public opportunities to contribute. An especially exciting and attainable opportunity is to become a "Founding Member." By joining for as little as $30 per year, you can help this museum and receive gifts available to only to members who join during the initial fundraising drive. And your annual membership won't begin until the doors open. Large donor opportunities and corporate sponsorships are also available.

I, for one, can't wait for the Animal History Museum to open! Until then, my family and I are enjoying all that the Web site galleries have to offer.

Follow the Animal History Museum on Facebook and Twitter for information and updates.

Blog the Change for Animals: Lost Our Home Pet Foundation

Phoenix is one of the cities hit hardest by the real estate and economic crisis. The many who have lost their homes here can't always bring their animals with them, wherever they are going. Pet owners may be unable to support their animals, financially, and are at risk of surrendering them or abandoning them. Lost Our Home Pet Foundation has come to the rescue. "Our mission is to be a resource for real estate professionals and other members of the community who discover an abandoned pet, and to provide options for pet owners faced with difficult economic circumstances while promoting the spaying and neutering of pets," stated Jodi Polanski, founder of Lost Our Home (LOH) Pet Foundation. The organization was founded in 2008 "as a grassroots response to the thousands of pets in need as a result of the economic downturn in general, and the Phoenix-area foreclosure crisis in particular." Thousands of dogs and cats have been abandoned in yards and homes, surrendered, or underfed. Lost Our Home is the only organization in the Valley of it's kind. Not only do they focus on the animals they rescue from foreclosed homes or after evictions, but on the owners and the human-animal bond, as well.

LOH's programs include:

Food Bank: In these difficult economic times, sometimes even providing food for your pet can seem impossible. LOH understands the trouble pet owners are going through and takes pet food donations to individuals in need of assistance.

Temp Foster Program: Foreclosure or a forced move can prevent people from keeping their pets. The LOH Temporary Foster Program provides care for pets whose owners need to stay somewhere temporarily so that they can be reunited.

Pet Friendly Rental Program: LOH's realtor-volunteers help pet owners find pet-friendly rentals so they can keep their pets when they need to move. 100% of the commission earned (usually $200-$300) is donated to cover pet deposit fees.

Rescue Assistance: If pets are in need of immediate assistance, LOH helps to place pets whose owners are in crises up for adoptions or consider them for other programs.

To keep these programs up and running, LOH relies on the help of incredible volunteers and and donations of money and supplies for their shelter or food bank. The foster volunteers are one of their most valuable resources. The more foster families the organization can rely upon, the more animals they can save.

I asked founder, Jodi Polanski, to tell me about one of her most memorable adoption success stories. Though she had many tales to draw from, one recent adoption, in particular, was very dear to her: Shea.

Shea is a gorgeous male cat who has been through a lot. He was found as a newborn cowering under an oleander bush in Phoenix. Jodi explained, "his eyes and body were infested with fleas, and he was extremely ill. He was so young that he had to be syringe-fed, and it was not certain that his eyes–or life–could be saved."


Shea pulled through, but his chances of being adopted seemed slight. One of his eyes had to be removed, and he had limited vision in the other. "And he is black," said Jodi. "Black cats and dogs are often the last to be adopted and, if they are not adopted, they are often euthanized for space."

Shea beat the odds.


Shea's strong will to survive and loving personality won over everyone around him, and, finally, won over Travis and Michelle, who adopted him two years after he was brought to Lost Our Home. "I dreamt about him after we visited the shelter," said Travis, "so we knew we had to adopt him."


Shea is now happy and healthy, loving life in his new home with Travis and Michelle. But if not for the tireless volunteers, vets, and supporters of LOH, Shea may never have made it out of that oleander bush.

It's about compassion for animals, first and foremost, which is sometimes difficult and contested in such a time and place of economic crisis. When a family is struggling to feed themselves, and survival is the stress they hold every minute of every day, tough choices have to be made. Some families give up satellite TV. Some don't have electricity. Some are so desperate that they surrender or abandon their pets–their family members. Lost Our Home Pet Foundation has recognized a desperate need in our community and has taken action to help furry family members stay with their pack. And when that just isn't possible, they help the animals find new forever homes. The organization is an advocate and miraculous resource for so many animals and people.

LOH needs your help, and there are many ways do donate. Please consider helping. And if you're looking for a new addition to your family, consider pets who, through no fault of their own, are tragic victims of this crisis in our economy. Think about adopting a Lost Our Home pet.

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