London, May 31 : The practice of keeping animals in schools as class pets has been dubbed 'cruel' by an animal welfare society.
The animal welfare charity, known as Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) said that allowing small children, and even smaller creatures, to interact during lessons could be cruel.
Shrieks and grabbing hands of affectionate but boisterous pupils make the classroom a frightening and noisy place for pet, which has an impact the well being of animals
The impact can be worse if children take them home for the weekend, or over the holidays as the environment along with the quality of care differs. In an email to 1600 schools, the RSPCA suggested that soft toys in the shape of animals are a much better introduction to fauna. The charity also promoted education events.
The class pets range from hamsters, rats, rabbits and budgies to the more exotic water dragons, chinchillas and snakes to, in a few cases, cats, dogs, goats and a horse.
Some schools hatch hens' eggs in an incubator so children can see the chicks grow. Others keep only fish because of fears about staff or children having allergies to furry animals.
"Welfare can be compromised. The school day is short - what happens to the animal the rest of the time? It can go from being loved to death to being left alone for the evening. Holidays and weekends are an even bigger issue. If the animal is going to different children each week the standard of care varies," Times Online quoted Dave Allen, the charity's head of education, as saying.