The Benchmark Animal Rehabilitative Curriculum (B.A.R.C.) is a powerful and comprehensive online animal cruelty prevention and education program designed to inspire change in attitudes and actions toward animals in individuals who have mistreated them. The course addresses a broad range of humane education and animal cruelty prevention topics summarized below. For an outline of the course curriculum, see the Downloadable Course Outline.
In the self-test students answer a series of questions designed to test their current knowledge about the proper care and humane treatment of animals and what is legally and morally required of those who own animals. At the conclusion of the course students will be asked to answer the same series of questions, allowing students to see how their knowledge and understanding of the various topics addressed in the quiz has improved.
II. Do Animals Think and Feel?
In this section, students are introduced to the concept that all animals are sentient beings, capable of experiencing a wide range of emotions usually associated with humans. This section emphasizes the fact that farm animals, and animals considered to be “livestock,” are equally as capable as companion animals of experiencing emotions and physical suffering.
III. Defining Animal Cruelty
In this section, students learn about the different types of behaviors that could be considered animal cruelty under the law. Topics covered in this section include intentional cruelty, passive cruelty/neglect (i.e., depriving an animal of basic needs or proper care), animal endangerment, and a discussion about when training or discipline crosses the line into animal cruelty. The “Defining Animal Cruelty” section contains in-depth coverage of illegal animal fighting, including a look at various myths surrounding dog and cockfighting, the impact animal fighting has on participants and the immediate community, and a glimpse into the mind of a reformed dog fighter. Also included in this section are topics of everyday concern, such as the dangers of leaving animals in hot vehicles.
IV. Animals’ Basic Needs
In this section, students learn about the basic needs of all animals and why it is legally and morally required that those needs be met. Basic requirements include providing animals with sufficient food, access to clean water, proper shelter from the elements, and necessary veterinary care. Students also learn why basic grooming, such as nail clipping and teeth care, is a necessity, not a luxury. Additional topics covered in this section include the importance of spaying/neutering canine and feline pets (and the myths that often surround the spay/neuter procedure); the advisability of exiling the family dog to the backyard its entire life; the potential consequences of not treating an animal for parasites; and the importance of providing animals with on-going routine medical care.
V. Responsible Pet Ownership
In Section Five students learn what it means to be a responsible pet owner. This section emphasizes the substantial commitments involved in owning an animal, regardless of the species. Included are discussions about a pet owner’s responsibility to:
(a) provide regular exercise and socialization for their pets;
(b) appropriately address their pets’ behavioral and emotional issues;
(c) keep their pets safe; and
(d) ensure that their pets do not create a nuisance, or present a danger to humans or other animals.
In the segment entitled, “Pets’ Point of View,” students learn from the pets themselves what animals want and need from their owners.
VI. Should You Own a Pet/Animal?
This section explores the idea that animal ownership is not for everyone. Through a series of articles, videos, and quizzes students are afforded the ability to honestly assess whether they are in a position at this point in their lives to own, and responsibly care for, an animal (assuming they’re legally permitted to do so). Students are taken through a “pre-pet ownership” checklist, which encourages them to consider various factors prior to bringing an animal into the home, such as whether they have the time and finances to properly care for a pet and, if they’re renting, if their lease allows the type of pet they’re considering. This section also discusses the various needs and level of care various species of animals require, in order to help students determine what type of animal is – and isn’t – ideal for them.
VII. Too Many Pets
In the section “Too Many Pets,” students learn about the practical and legal consequences of taking on more animals than one can properly care for. Included in this section is an informative video by an expert on animal hoarding, in which the expert discusses the issues and problems someone may face if they are found to be hoarding, or “collecting,” too many animals.
VIII. Giving Up Your Animal
In this section students learn about why giving up a pet is a serious matter. The various reasons for giving a pet up are discussed and evaluated, and alternatives to “getting rid” of an animal are explored. Also discussed are the various ways to responsibly surrender, or re-home, an animal, in the event there is no other alternative.