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Animals and humans hold a sacred bond. Dogs are known as “man’s best friend.” But the fight for fair treatment of animals is ongoing.

That’s why local nonprofit Companion Animal Foundation is aiming to educate the next generation on the importance of animal welfare.

The organization is now in its third summer of hosting humane education programs at its 18.5 acre property in McKinleyville, and this year is the biggest yet.

Director Kim Class says acquiring the property and having a positive impact on youth is a lifelong dream come true.

“The animals are counting on them,” she says. “I think of these kids being this great ripple effect and they go out all over the Unites States and share these messages and maybe in a loving compassionate way, help people to think differently.”

In this LoCO Video Report we visit this week’s camp for 8- to 10-year-olds called “For the Love of Animals,” and hear what they have to say.

The children learned about nutrition while preparing the animals healthy meals. They learned about how to read an animal’s body language. They learned about animal socialization, training, exercise and attention.

The program is also a benefit to local animals awaiting adoption. There’s kittens, rabbits, chickens, turtles and about 20 dogs on site, most of which are rescues from the foundation, Redwood Pals Rescue, NorCal Pets, or animal control.

But the program isn’t just about pets.

“We look at all the animals that we share this earth with and the consequences of our actions,” said Class.

They even learned about rats and spiders, and participated in constructing bat boxes to put up at the property in hopes of decreasing the mosquito population. Class also touches on the importance of spay and neuter and controversial issues that have big impacts, such as the country’s commercial meat and poultry industry — along with the concept of conscious consumerism when buying animal food.

In addition, the foundation has purchased a mobile veterinary bus which is currently being used for educational purposes, but it hopes to soon have it in operation as a community resource.

The next summer program in July will be for kids 10-14 years old and will focus on animal CPR, exams, and vaccinations, and disaster preparedness.