School fails test for care of class pet

At the close of this school year, a Hawthorne High School teacher surrendered a classroom rabbit, into our shelter as there was no one available to provide him a home for the summer. The rabbit was suffering from very obvious conjunctivitis in both eyes, ocular discharge that was stuck to his hair, dental disease, and other medical problems. His cage was quite filthy and we don’t know if the proper diet, (important for teeth and overall health) and appropriate medical care was provided to this rabbit while in custody of the school.

Notwithstanding the fact that the California Penal Code considers it a misdemeanor or felony to act, omit to act, or permit an action or omission to occur in the care of an animal, what lesson is being taught to the students? I can answer that question – a bad one. A lesson that sanctions irresponsible behavior, that demonstrates a lack of empathy for another sentient being, that permits the infliction of suffering and pain on one dependent on the school for care and protection, and overlooks actions that are against the law. The lesson further teaches students that it is okay to use a pet and then discard him when he becomes inconvenient rather than teaching responsibility and the honoring of commitments.

To make matters worse, this poor conduct is being mentored and tolerated by school officials, the very people who should be mentoring the opposite. There should be no pets in classrooms absent a plan for the proper care, medical checkups, stress relief protocols, husbandry and diet. This plan must be documented and enforced.

Without this, the students will learn the opposite of what they should learn from the experience of having a pet. This is far worse than learning nothing at all.

The aim of education is the knowledge, not of facts, but of values.” William S. Burroughs

P.S. We are, of course, in touch with the school district. If you would like to offer your opinion, respectfully and civilly, on this – the Principal can be reached at and the District Superintendent can be reached at