Thursday, March 31, 2005

California Special-Education Teacher Forced To Close Petting Zoo

After a run-in with local animal-control offercers, a Thousand Oaks special-education teacher has shut down a petting zoo that she maintained in her school:

Gail Armey, 56, a teacher at Conejo Elementary School, closed the zoo Wednesday and gave the animals away, saying that a recent investigation by officers from the Agoura Animal Shelter had caused her unbearable stress.

"I can't take the harassment," said Armey, beginning to cry. "The only way I could get them off my back is to give the animals away."

Armey had collected quite a menagerie in her 35 years of teaching. A fenced concrete area next to her classroom was home to about 20 ducks, two goats, two chickens, and numerous rabbits and rats.

But, like most stories, this one has another side. And not surprisingly, it's very different than that of Ms. Armey:

Officials at the Agoura animal shelter, which is contracted to provide services in Thousand Oaks, told a different story.

"Quite frankly, I'm not even sure what she is talking about," said Gail Wiley, shelter manager. "This is not a vendetta and we don't want an adversarial relationship."

"We are trying to make things better for the animals," she said.

Wiley said the investigation began about three weeks ago, when she received a complaint of unsanitary conditions at the zoo. An officer visited the facility March 9, noting animal cages without catch trays for feces and urine, large amounts of feces in cages and on the ground, dirty water buckets, and food left out that could attract rodents, Wiley said.

No one can doubt the therapeutic effect that petting animals has on some children with learning disabilities, but in light of what has been happening in petting zoos down in Florida lately, we aren't surprised that the authorities took this action. Read the whole story here.(Reg. Req'd)
For the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education, click here.

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