BVNA support the veterinary nursing profession by providing membership, representation, CPD, and so much more. Animal welfare is also of the utmost importance to us, as we know it is to all of our members.

Kim Rathbone, RVN and Council Member, has spearheaded a group of BVNA Council Members to consider the welfare of pets kept in a classroom or school environment, and how schools can be educated on responsible pet ownership.

Kim says:

“Since becoming a Registered Veterinary Nurse I have always been passionate about animal welfare and preventative healthcare. Whilst working full time in practice, I can do this through nurse consultations where I provide advice to clients on subjects like nutrition, exercise, behaviour, good husbandry and preventative healthcare. However, one area of interest outside of the practice is looking at ways to help schools with animals kept in the classroom, something I have not been able to explore fully until becoming a Council Member for the BVNA.

“There is currently no specific guidance provided by the government for schools keeping pets. It is up to the school to decide if they want to get a pet. Schools are encouraged to abide by the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which places a duty on animal owners to ensure their animals welfare needs are met which includes, suitable environment, suitable diet, ability to exhibit normal behaviour, protect them pain, suffering, injury and disease. Despite this there are still some concerns that having pets in the classroom can be extremely stressful for them so it is important that we provide the correct information to help guide schools on responsible pet ownership and meeting the welfare needs of each individual animal.

“BVNA Council recently formed a Task and Finish Group to investigate ways to help improve the conditions of pets currently being kept in schools, plus encourage responsible pet ownership. The toolkit we developed has helpful resources from organisations such as The Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF), The British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT), The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) and The Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF). It has been designed to give easy access to resources, with informative downloadable content, to help improve the lives of animals being kept in schools, or consider alternative ways to educate children on responsible pet ownership and The Five Freedoms.

“The toolkit has resources and podcasts, plus a downloadable jigsaw that can be printed to teach children about The Five Animal Welfare Freedoms. We want schools to able to provide a stress-free environment for pets and ensure that all animals receive the correct diet, accommodation and healthcare that will help provide a stress-free lifestyle.

“This will be regularly updated to provide more useful content to include videos, podcasts, factsheets and games. I hope that this resource will be useful guide to support and educate whilst also being utilised as a progressive resource to promote animal health and welfare through educators of many ages.”

The BVNA Welfare of Pets in Schools toolkit can be accessed here.

To complement the toolkit, BVNA are hosting a live discussion panel on Wednesday 12th April at 7.30pm, including the following speakers:

  • Chair: Kim Rathbone RVN – BVNA Council Member
  • Emma Foreman RVN – BVNA Council Member
  • David Allen – Head of Prevention and Education at RSPCA
  • Anna Baggot – Education Lead at PDSA
  • Lynne James – Veterinary Communications Manager at PDSA
  • Dom Burke – Behaviour Officer at Dogs Trust

To register, visit the BVNA website at The discussion panel will also be streamed via Facebook Live.