World War I began in 1914 and resulted in the deaths of approximately 10 million horses utilized in fighting in Europe, according to the American Humane Association. The American Humane Association held its 38th annual meeting in Atlantic City, New Jersey that October.
The organization’s leaders decided it needed to promote humane education and animal welfare then more than ever. They agreed that local humane societies as well as individuals across the nation would observe Humane Sunday, dedicated to, “the consideration of humanity to all animals.” They declared that Humane Sunday would be followed by a week that focused on being kind to all animals.
Thus, Be Kind to Animals Week was born. Be Kind to Animals Week has been celebrated around the first week of May ever since. The campaign has grown over the last century, and there are many ways in which you can commemorate this worthy cause.
1. Take the Pledge
Take the pledge to be kind to animals throughout the year on the American Humane Association’s website. The pledge gives you the option to promise to buy humanely-raised products, such as eggs and meat, watching movies that contain the American Humane Association’s, “No Animals Were Harmed” end credit, ensuring the humane treatment of animal actors, and adopting a pet from an animal shelter or rescue if you choose to add a pet to your family.
2. Take Care of Your Pets
Taking care of your pets goes beyond providing them with food, water, and shelter. Take your pet to your veterinarian once a year for an annual checkup or any time you suspect he is sick.
Spay or neuter your pet to help control pet overpopulation. Ensure that your pet is up-to-date on his vaccinations. It’s also important to make sure your pet’s identification tags and microchip information is current.
Make sure your pet is getting daily exercise. Take your dog for walks, and have play sessions with your dog or cat regularly.
3. Report Mistreatment
If you suspect an animal is being abused or neglected, report it to your local animal control.
4. Teach Children to Be Kind to Animals
Teach children to be kind to all animals, both domestic and wild. The American Humane Association has several worksheets and activities you can do with your children to teach them the importance of having compassion for animals. Worksheets and activities are targeted to children in preschool through fifth grade.
Purchase or check out books from your local library that teach kids how to treat animals. Reading such books will not only teach your kids how to show animals compassion, it provides you an opportunity to bond.
5. Create a Bird-Friendly Yard
Show our winged friends kindness by creating a bird-friendly habitat in your own yard. Plant flowers that attract butterflies, and remove any plants that are toxic to animals. Audubon has a searchable database of native plants suitable for your area that you can plant to provide food and nesting for birds.
Hang birdseed dispensers and hummingbird feeders. Put a birdbath in your yard, and clean it regularly.
6. Pamper Your Pets
Show your pet some extra love during Be Kind to Animals Week by conducting additional play sessions, going for more walks, and spending quality time with them. Buy your dog or cat a new toy or a special treat.
Cats and dogs aren’t the only pets you can spoil, though. Buy your fish a new plant for her aquarium. Give your hamster a cricket to eat. Buy your guinea pig a new cozy or toy. Spend some extra time with your rat. Give your horse a special treat or schedule a massage for her.
Donate cat or dog canned or dry food, kitten milk replacement, litter, puppy pads, toys, treats, and cleaning supplies to a local rescue or shelter. If you have a shelter that has rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, and horses for adoption as well, your shelter could use bath towels, hand towels, hamster, gerbil, rabbit, guinea pig, and horse food, untreated grass mats, cozies, toys, and treats.
All shelters and rescues can always use cleaning supplies, such as dish soap and laundry detergent, paper towels, blankets, trash bags, lint rollers, scouring pads, and disinfecting wipes. Shelters and rescues can always use monetary donations as well.
Show kindness to animals by volunteering with your local animal shelter or rescue. These organizations are always in need of extra hands. Some of the things you can do as a shelter or rescue volunteer include cleaning cages, scooping litter boxes, feeding animals, taking dogs for walks, helping with fundraising events, taking photos of animals needing homes, doing the shelter’s or rescue’s laundry, socializing homeless pets, driving animals to and/or from veterinarian appointments, and fostering pets until they find forever homes.
9. Adopt a Homeless Animal
If you are considering adding a furry or feathered friend to your family, commit to adopting one from your local animal shelter or rescue.
When you adopt a pet, you are giving him a chance at life in a loving forever home. Whether you are looking for a purebred or mixed breed, you’re likely to find what you’re looking for in a shelter or rescue. Consider adopting an animal who’s shy, has special needs, or is an adult or a senior. These animals need loving forever homes and are sadly overlooked often.
Be sure to read our article on what you should consider before bringing a new pet home. Check out our article on what to expect when you bring a new pet home as well.
10. Respect Wildlife
Visiting National Parks or hiking on trails in the forest are great ways to enjoy nature and observe wildlife, but it’s important to remember that you are visiting the animal’s home. Respect wildlife by keeping your distance. It may be tempting to get close to wild animals, but it’s important to keep your distance for your safety and theirs.
Wild animals are most active at dawn and dusk. To respect their schedule, hike trails after breakfast and before dinner.
Use a long-range lens if you choose to take photos of wildlife. Don’t use flash as this can stress wild animals.
Never feed wild animals. Use wildlife-proof containers to store food, don’t litter, and maintain a clean campsite whenever you’re in nature. Go the extra mile and clean up other people’s litter at picnic sites.
According to Reserve America, when wild animals begin to associate humans with food, they can become a nuisance. This can result in an animal needing to be relocated or even euthanized.
11. Drive Carefully
Drive carefully whenever you’re in National Parks or forested areas. Be mindful of wild animals, such as deer, crossing the road in front of your car. Always follow a park’s speed limit.
12. Speak Your Mind
Write or call your elected officials, and encourage them to support policies that protect all animals.
No matter how you choose to celebrate the occasion, do something to show compassion to animals this year during Be Kind to Animals Week. You’ll feel good knowing that you made a difference in animals’ lives.
Written By Matt Leighton, vivofish.com