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The Voice for Animals badge is part of the “It's Your Story - Tell It!” badge set introduced in 2011 for Girl Scout Seniors. It replaces the retired XXX badge. 

When a Girl Scout Senior has earned this badge, she will better understand animal issues worldwide and know what she can do to help 

Step 1: Find out about domestic animals

Primitive cultures only tolerated dogs in their camps because they would eat smelly scraps and scare off intruders. But, eventually, humans began caring for animals as pets – from dogs and cats to birds, goldfish, rabbits, and more.  How do we treat our pets today?  What rights should they have?  How are pets protected?

Requirements from the First Farmer Badge

A Scout must have reared successfully one of the following:

  • A brood of at least 12 chickens under hen or with incubator
  • A flock of at least 12 pigeons, 12 ducks, 12 geese, or 12 guinea-fowl
  • A family of rabbits or guinea pigs
  • A calf, a colt, or a pig

CHOICES – DO ONE:

Volunteer at a shelter, at the ASPCA, or at an animal-adoption or spay/neuter drive. Find out why spaying and neutering are important, what the animal populations are locally and nationwide, and what overpopulation means for unwanted animals.

FOR MORE FUN: Organize a spay/neuter drive at your local pet food store.  Ask a veterinarian to donate time to help.

OR

Interview an animal-rescue worker. Find out what animal issues there are in your community and what it’s like to have a career protecting animals.  Share your interview with other Girl Scouts.

OR

Compose a pets’ rights document. Is it okay to declaw a cat?  Or to use a shock collar on a dog?  What guidelines should be in place for a classroom hamster, a family dog, or a pet rabbit?  Start by looking at city and state laws.  Then write up a document stating what you think it takes to treat pets ethically and respectfully.

More to EXPLORE  Foster a pet!  Animal rescue shelters are often looking for candidates to care for pets until they are permanently adopted or to foster new litters of puppies and kittens.  Talk to the animal caregivers to find out what it takes to responsibly foster an animal.  What must you know about an animal’s food, exercise, and medical needs?

Step 2: Investigate animals used for science

Whether animals should be used for product and medical testing is a controversial issue. First, research the arguments for and against animal testing.  What animals are most likely to be used in tests?  Are any protected by the Animal Welfare Act?

CHOICES – DO ONE:

Interview people with opposing viewpoints.  They might be a scientist and an animal-rights activist.  From these interviews, make a pros and cons list about the issue.  Then, check out the rules and guidelines for animal testing.  Are they different from state to state?  Who regulates animal testing?  Where do you stand now that you’ve heard two opinions?

OR

Track a beauty product. Find one that doesn’t have “cruelty-free” or “produced without animal testing” written on its label.  Research how it was developed.  Were animals used?  If so, how? Make a visual timeline or diagram of development.

OR

Follow an experiment or lab study. Find out for what animals are used and how they’re treated. If possible, also, visit a lab where animals are used for beauty-product testing or medical research.  Share your experience with Girl Scout friends.

More to EXPLORE   Explore pet cloning.  Recent medical breakthroughs have made it possible to clone pets.  Find out why some people pay thousands of dollars to make genetic copies of their pets and why some people think it’s unethical. What do you think?

“We should be evolving into a new age of business with a worldview that maintains one simple proposition: that all of nature – humans, animals, earth – are interconnected and interdependent.”          -Anita Roddick, Animal-rights activist and founder of The Body Shop

Step 3: Explore animals in husbandry

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Dr. Grandin petting a horse

Husbandry is the practice of breeding and raising farm animals intended to be used for food.  Cows, chicken, lamb, and pigs all come under this category.

CHOICES – DO ONE:

Visit a working farm or ranch.  Talk to a rancher or staff worker about their animal practices.  Share what you learn with family or friends.

OR

Investigate livestock breeding. Many farms employ breeders to improve the genetics of the herd and speed up reproduction. For example, embryos from a prime-quality cow might be transplanted into another cow to allow the prime-quality cow to breed again more quickly.   What other practices are being used?  How are they regulated?  What is the science behind farm practices – for instance, why are some farmers moving away from hog confinement barns, and what does that mean for the pigs? Explore the details of breeding one animal and share your findings.

OR

Look into domestic pet breeding. Find out what’s involved in responsible pet breeding.  What testing is done before breeding two parents?  How so they choose homes for their animals?  Contact breeders to see if they will talk to you or let you visit their facilities.  Share what you find out.

FOR MORE FUN:  Labradoodles (a cross between a poodle and a Labrador retriever) were created as an allergy-friendly service dog.  (Poodles’ non-shedding coats are less irritating to people with allergies.)  What other crossbreeds are there?  What breeds do you think would make a great cross?

Care for a farm animal for two weeks.  Visit a farm and ask if you can care for an animal for two weeks.  This includes feeding, cleanup, and anything else animal care entails.  Record your experience.  For what will your animal be used?  Did you get attached to the animal?  Do you feel the care you gave made a difference?

Dr. Temple Grandin

Despite being diagnosed as autistic at age two, Temple Grandin grew up to become our nation’s leading designer of human facilities for livestock animals. 

Earlier in her career, Grandin, a doctor of animal science, devised an improved chute for cattle to walk through on their way to slaughter.

The chute prevented cattle from seeing the handlers and cut down on light and shadows, thereby decreasing the cattle’s stress.  Her system is now widely used by slaughterhouses.  She attributes her success as a designer of human livestock facilities to her ability to recall detail, which is a characteristic of her visual memory.

Dr. Grandin is, also, a professor Animal Science at Colorado State University, a best-selling author, and a consultant to the livestock industry in animal behavior.

Step 4: Take a look at animals used for sports and entertainment

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Christine Zerbini performed 'A Gallop' for the Big Apple Circus in the 2008-2009 production "Play On"

Think about the first time you saw an elephant in a circus.  Or, visited a marine park and watched killer whales perform. Or, attended a rodeo to see calf roping competitions.  Worldwide, from bullfighting in Spain to foxhunting in England, animals are part of our sport and entertainment culture.

CHOICES – DO ONE:

Take a look at animals in sports.Choose a sport to research.  It might be rodeo, greyhound racing, polo or dressage, horse racing, or falconry.  If possible, attend an event, talk to the participants, and explore how the owners and handlers care for the animals.  Share your findings.

FOR MORE FUN: Look into the sport’s history – there are some fascinating stories of how and why animal sports began!

OR

Write about animals in entertainment. Choose an animal to research.  It might be in a movie, circus, zoo, or dog show.  Write a short story, poem, or article from the point of view of a performing animal.  What would you imagine a day in its life is like?  Share your creative piece with friends or family.

OR

Interview people behind the scenes. This might be a zookeeper, animal trainer, or the owner of a show dog.  Prepare a list of questions.  Find out the daily routine for the animals, how they’re cared, and what happens when they get sick and can’t perform.  Share your interview with Girl Scout friends.  

More to EXPLORE:  Pretend you’re a Girl Scout in 1930.  As girls did to earn their Land Animal Finder badge, list the game animals in your area and learn how they’re protected.  How are game laws made and administered in your state?

Step 5: Look into an animal issue

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Marine mammal trainer Jenna Mercurio training Jelly a female North American River Otter at Long Island Aquarium

Choose an issue and find out more!

CHOICES – DO ONE:

Debate a policy decision.  Pretend you can make a law, and invite people to present both sides of your animal issue, such as:

  • Eating meat vs. vegetarianism 
  • Wearing fur, leather, or other animal products vs. not wearing them
  • Medical advances for humans vs. animal rights
  • Zoos that aid conservation vs. zoos that keep animals confined

FOR MORE FUN:  Host a screening for your Girl Scout group, friends, or family that centers around a feature or documentary film about your animal issue.  After the screening, share information, invite conversation, then, have the debate.

OR

 

Compose an editorial.  Present your issue in an opinion article.  You might want to post it in a blog or on a website devoted to your issue.

OR

Create a public service announcement. Put your audiovisual skills to work and create a two-minute public service video or slide show to get your message across.

CAREERS to EXPLORE

  • Zookeeper      
  • Animal Scientist        
  • Veterinary technician     
  • Zoologist        
  • Ranch manager Wildlife-management biologist  
  • Biochemist            
  • Animal nutritionist    
  • Park Ranger
  • Wildlife and habitat planner     
  • Animal behaviorist     
  • Director of animal control
  • Herpetologist            
  • Fish and game warden          
  • Animal-welfare manager  
  • Pet therapist
  • Wildlife photographer          
  • Guide-animal trainer    
  • Ornithologist             
  • Ecotourism guide
  • Zoo photographer and videographer   
  • Animal-refuge manager        
  • Animal-habitat architect
  • Farming-reform advocate    
  • Wildlife and natural history writer

Famous Animal Advocates

  • Dian Fossey was an American zoologist who spent 18 years studying gorilla groups in Rwanda.  She died in 1985, but the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International continues her work.
  • Karen Davis is the founder and director of United Poultry Concerns, a rescue and advocacy group for factor-farmed chickens, turkeys, and ducks.  A former college English professor, she, also, founded the Animal rights Coalition in 1989.
  • Stella McCartney is an animal rights activist and a designer who refuses to use fur or leather in her fashions.  She is, also, the creator of a skin care line that is made with organic ingredients and never tested on animals.
  • Steve Irwin was the host of the popular TV show The Crocodile Hunter.  He was a conservationist who worked to promote awareness about endangered species and other environmental issues.  Though he was killed by a stingray in 2006, his family continues his work.
  • Carole Noon was a primatologist.  She founded Save the Chimps, an organization that created the world’s largest sanctuary for captive chimpanzees.
  • Jane Goodall is considered by many to be the world’s leading expert on chimpanzees.  She is best-known for her 45-year study of wild chimps in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania.
  • Bob Barker, who hosted The Price is Rightform 1987 – 2006, always ended the show by reminding viewers to have their pets spayed or neutered.  He is the founder of the DJ&T foundation, a group that promotes pet population control.
  • Cesar Milan started his career as a dog groomer but became one of the world’s best-known dog trainers.  As host of the TV show The Dog Whisperer, he promoted “rehabilitation” for dogs that were difficult to train.
  • Michael W. Fox is a well-known veterinarian and former officer of the Human Society of the United States.  He was written more than 40 books, many of them about animal care and animal behavior.
  • Lamon Brewster is a retired boxer who now works to raise awareness about dog fighting.  In 2007, he filmed a public service announcement against dog fighting for PETA. 
  • Sylvia Alice Earle is an American oceanographer and a renowned marine biologist.  She is Explorer in Residence at the National Geographic Society and works to protect marine areas.
  • Carol Buckley is the co-founder of The Elephant Sanctuary, the country’s largest natural habitat refuge for endangered African and Asian elephants.  In 2010, she went on to found the nonprofit group Elephant Aid International

Add this Badge to Your Journey

Earning this badge will get you out and about, visiting people who have careers related to animals. That makes it a great opportunity to get your Sisterhood Network going.  So, as you meet ranchers, breeders, veterinarians, or animal-rescue workers, keep an eye out for people you can add to your network as mentors, role models, and advisers.  When you meet women with unusual career paths, ask them how they got there!

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