Humane Education Stories: Challenges and Successes from the Field


Philip Fulton, Manager of Community Outreach, Calgary Humane Society
Melissa Logan, Director of Education, Alberta SPCA
Emelie Luciani, Co-Director, ENGAGE: Animal Welfare Education
Colleen Ovenden, Co-Director, ENGAGE: Animal Welfare Education

Humane education has the power to increase empathy, change attitudes and foster ethical citizenship, yet it is alarmingly absent from our provincial education curricula. Instead of existing within formal settings, humane education in Canada is primarily practiced through a patchwork of programs and initiatives that are offered independently by humane societies, animal shelters and other like-minded organizations. This diversity of voices, which come in a variety of models and frameworks, all strive to fulfill Canada's great need for humane education.

This panel will present a snapshot of three different humane education programs that have, at their core, the same mission: promoting empathy and compassion in order to advance the welfare of both humans and animals alike. Each organization will share its story – its successes and challenges – in the hopes of initiating a national conversation on humane education.

  • ENGAGE: Animal Welfare Education will present itself as case study of an alternative model for humane education, which operates independently of any one animal shelter.
  • The Alberta SPCA will introduce AnimalTales, a program that consists of picture books and classroom materials that focus on a variety of animal topics, including responsible care and the human-animal bond.
  • Calgary Humane Society will deliver a personal narrative that tells of the dizzying highs, terrifying lows and the creamy middles of running Calgary Humane Society’s Humane Education Department.


  1. The successes and challenges of a non-shelter-affiliated humane education model.
  2. Picture books as tools for the promotion of empathy towards animals.
  3. Safety first, then fun, then education: learning through inquiry, personal connections and relevance, while avoiding judgment, shame and fear.


Philip Fulton started his career with Calgary Humane Society in 2008 as an Adoption Counselor, helping families and animals find their best possible match. His experiences working with a diversity of families and animals gave him the insight and skills to further help the community when he later moved into the role of Department Head of Humane Education, overseeing youth programing in the shelter. Now, as Manager of Community Outreach, Philip continues to oversee the Humane Education Department, as well as extend that education to all ages in the community through outreach events and individual interaction. Philip is passionate about youth engagement, which stems from his background teaching drama and working professionally in theatre for young audiences around the world. His particular areas of interest lay in educating both young and not-so-young people on responsible pet guardianship, canine body language and how to better understand animals to promote safer, more meaningful interactions. He believes educating children on empathetic and humane treatment of animals will lead to healthier, more caring individuals and communities.

Melissa Logan is an educator who has worked in the Alberta SPCA Education Department for the past decade. Engaging with teachers and other organizations, she has developed curriculum-relevant humane education programs and resources for Alberta teachers to inspire empathy and compassion and enhance animal welfare across the province. She holds a BSc, BEd and is currently working toward a MSc in International Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law.

Emelie Luciani is the Co-Director of ENGAGE: Animal Welfare Education. Prior to this, she worked as the animal welfare educator at the Montreal SPCA, Québec’s largest and busiest animal shelter. She was also the organization’s Adoption and Foster Program Coordinator with over seven years’ experience. Emelie’s involvement in animal welfare education integrates her two passions: animals and working with youth. Emelie holds a BA in Sociology.

Colleen Ovenden is the Co-Director of ENGAGE: Animal Welfare Education, an organization that brings together her commitment to animal welfare, youth empowerment and social justice. Prior to ENGAGE, she was the Director of Education and Community Outreach at the Montreal SPCA. Colleen holds an MA in Cultural Studies and a PhD (ABD) in Communication Studies.