Animals used in schools may be obtained from a variety of sources. These may include:
- Other schools
- Primary producers
- Pet shops
- Licenced suppliers (essential for native animals)
- Community members.
Offers of donations are often made to schools. Schools should only accept animals as donations if they are part of a planned program and fill the requirements of the age, breed, type, quality and health for the situation. Schools are not pounds and should not be considered animal dumping grounds for the community. Dumped and donated animals often require veterinary treatment and place an unnecessary burden on the resources of the school while not contributing to the achievement of valid educational outcomes.
Livestock are at times justifiably donated to assist schools with their show programs. Care should be taken to document the roles, responsibilities and expectations of both parties when donations or partnerships involving livestock occur.
Schools that allow students to keep horses on designated land and/or engage in equestrian events as part of school co-curricular activities should document the roles, responsibilities and expectations of both parties and maintain clear and accurate records of movements, health status and any treatments, in line with record keeping requirements.
Native animals must be obtained from licenced suppliers with a valid licence number. They must never be taken from the wild, with the exception of tadpoles (see below). Injured wildlife may be held until veterinary or WIRES help is obtained. Rehabilitated native animals must always be returned to the wild or managed through an official agency such as WIRES. Schools may only keep a rehabilitated native animal after approval from the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the SACEC.
Approval has been given from the National Parks and Wildlife Service for schools to collect up to 20 tadpoles from the same source. When two of the tadpoles have metamorphosed into frogs, they must be returned, with the remaining tadpoles, to the place from where they were originally collected. If after six months, the tadpoles have not metamorphosed into frogs, they must be returned to the place from where they were initially collected. More information about keeping tadpoles in schools can be found in Frogs.
If animals are dumped on the school site, attempts should be made to determine and contact the owner, e.g. through an NLIS tag. If an owner cannot be determined, the school can either dispose of the animal through the normal disposal methods or claim ownership. If ownership is claimed and the animals are livestock, they must be tagged and entered on the NLIS database for the school’s PIC.