Launch of 'Animal Guardians' a new animal cruelty prevention programme for children

  • Scottish SPCA Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animalss

Press/Media: Press Release


The Scottish SPCA has today launched ‘Animal Guardians’, a brand-new education programme aimed at preventing cruelty to animals among primary school children in the Edinburgh City Council area.

Girl with dog

We have received generous support from the RS MacDonald Charitable Trust to pilot our new programme, for an initial three years.

Head of Education and Policy Gilly Mendes Ferreira said, "‘Animal Guardians’ is a bespoke new programme aimed at helping us support children who may have engaged in animal cruelty.

“Currently, we reach over 270,000 primary aged children in Scotland through our free Prevention through Education programme, which focuses on teaching children how to be responsible animal citizens.

“Our collaborative research with the University of Edinburgh highlights that adverse childhood experiences (ACES) such as abuse, victimisation and bullying can play a pivotal role in the likelihood that a child will engage in animal cruelty.”

Gilly continued, “We are working with a number of agencies who will refer children who have been identified as having the potential to commit, or have already committed, an act of animal cruelty to our programme.

“We will then work with them on a one-to-one basis to help them better understand animal welfare needs and appropriate behaviours towards animals."

Dr Jo Williams (Senior Lecturer) Department of Clinical and Health Psychology “Childhood animal cruelty is under-researched but is often linked with other forms of violence and abuse. Early intervention is important for promoting empathy and compassionate behaviour.”

Gilly added, “Initially, we are piloting the scheme in Edinburgh, but we hope to expand the programme nationally. Education is key to preventing animal cruelty in the future.”

James Dornan, MSP, said “I welcome the launch of the ‘Animal Guardians’ animal cruelty prevention programme. This vital project will hopefully go some way to educating children in how animals have a right to be treated humanely. 

“The programme is taking a holistic approach in teaching children; working with children who have already been found to mistreat animals to help avoid this happening again in the future as well as children who may be at risk of committing such acts.

“This sustained educational approach is progressive and commendable. It is also worth recognising that this would not have been possible without the generous endowment provided by the R.S. MacDonald Charitable Trust which will help fund the project for an initial three years.”

To find out more about the Scottish SPCA’s Animal Guardians programme visit


Period1 May 2018

Media contributions


Media contributions

  • TitleAnimal Guardians Launch press release
    Degree of recognitionNational
    Media typeWeb
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    PersonsScottish SPCA Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animalss