Lesson Plan Ideas

Lesson Plan Image

Controversial Humane Issues


  1. Become familiar with one or more controversial humane issues: breed bans, animals in entertainment, animals in research, and the link between animal cruelty and violence.
  2. Seek out and evaluate diverse information about these issues on the Internet.
  3. Explore personal feelings about these controversial issues.
  4. Empathize with an animals’ point of view.
  5. Explore different positions on controversial issues through writing and debating.
  6. Exchange ideas on these issues and learn to appreciate different viewpoints.


Animal abuse is sometimes condoned because of stereotypes about animals and ignorance about cruel practices. Finding accurate information on these issues can be challenging.

Curriculum Connection: Alberta Education Program of Studies

English Language Arts

Grade 7: Discover and Explore

Grade 7: Clarify and Extend

Grade 8: Discover and Explore

Grade 8: Clarify and Extend

Grade 9: Discover and Explore

Grade 9: Clarify and Extend

Grades 10-12: Manage Ideas and Information

Many of these topics are also relevant to discussion in Health and Life Skills and CALM about bullying and evaluating situations of risk.



For each issue we have provided some thought provoking questions for discussion and some pertinent background information on the issue. The background material provided has high interest level and comes from reputable sources, but the reading level is generally high(except where noted) so younger students and weaker readers wil need some support. These controversial topics are suitable for a number of activities:

Breed Restriction/Breed Bans

Certain dog breeds have been viewed as dangerous, and some local governments have moved to ban or restrict these breeds. Different groups have strong opinions on whether breed restrictions such asbanning “pit bulls” are effective in reducing injuries to humans from dogs. Some of the questions students could explore:

For your information, the policy of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies on breed bans is as follows:

Breed Bans and Dog Bite Prevention

“The incidence of dog bites has not been shown to be reduced by restricting the ownership of certain dog breeds. Dangerous dogs can exist in every breed and breed cross. This behaviour can be attributed to the lack of appropriate training and socialization, inappropriate breed choice for owner’s lifestyle, failure to spay or neuter and mistreatment on behalf of the owner or person interacting with the dog. The issue of banning breeds that are thought to be more prone to aggressive behaviours has become the subject of debate – and legislation – at the municipal and provincial levels. The National Companion Animal Coalition, of which the CFHS is a member, has developed a fact sheet on this issue entitled, Reducing the Incidence of Dog Bites and Attacks: Do Breed Bans Work?. While this document is unlikely to end the debate on this contentious matter, it at least contributes some valuable information to what promises to be an ongoing discussion.”



Some other useful resources on breed bans and restrictions are listed below.

Animals in Entertainment

Animals have been used for centuries to entertain people. Some argue that the animals enjoy “having a job” and are treated very well. Others argue that animals often suffer for our entertainment, and on principle, animals should not be made to entertain us. Some uses of animals are clearly cruel ( dog fighting), while other activities may fall into “grey areas”. Articles on both sides of each issue can be found on the Internet. Remind students to carefully check the source of the information found to help assess its accuracy and objectivity.

Some questions students could ask:

One outcome of research into this area could be to write up a set of guidelines for humane treatment for one of the areas in which animals are used.


Animals in Research

Animals are used extensively in medical research. Public opinion polls suggest a wide range of viewpoints on this topic.

Some questions students could ask:


The Link between Animal Cruelty and Family Violence

This link has been well documented and is a compelling reason for humane education. Animal abuse is a sign of problems within a family and all too often leads to later violence against people. This topic is more suitable for secondary school students.

Questions for discussion and investigation:

For teens:
For younger students

Additional materials for high school students doing research on this topic: