Millions of animal lovers around the country are joining the American Humane Association to celebrate “Be Kind to Animals Week” 2016, next week May 1st -7th. This year, the American Humane Association celebrates 100 years of rescuing animals from cruelty and disasters. Their program was created in May 1916 at the request of the U.S. Secretary of War in order to save warhorses on the battlefields of World War I Europe.
In honor of this celebration, and to ensure the message of the American Humane Association is carried on by future generations, show your children how to be kind and respectful towards all animals.
Be kind to your pets at home:
If you have a companion animal at home, be sure you give your pet lots of love and attention. Food, water and shelter are the necessities, but your pet needs more than that. It’s pertinent that your child learns to give food and water to your pet, but also be sure to schedule play times so you can teach appropriate ways for your children to play with animals. If you have a rabbit, for example, make sure your child knows to never to pull on the ears or tail and show the proper way to hold your bunny. Your child can also help walk the dog (with your assistance) and he or she can take part in playing with feather pole toys with the cat. If you don’t have a pet, think about adopting. Close to four million animals are euthanized every year in our nation’s shelters. Teach your children you care by choosing to adopt an animal from a shelter instead of buying from a pet store or breeder.
Be kind to insects:
If you see a spider in your home, your first instinct may be to squish it. But if the spider isn’t poisonous, is this really necessary? Show your child you care by scooping the spider up in a cup and taking it outside. Spiders are also a benefit since they reduce the existence of disease carrying insects like mosquitoes. You can do the same with all insects you find in your home.
Be kind to rodents:
If you find mice droppings in your house, try to humanely trap the mouse first with a humane live trap. Once the mouse is caught and you take it outside, be sure to seal all entryways so the mouse doesn’t get back into the house.
Please don’t poison rodents. According to the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW), “raptors - owls, hawks, falcons, eagles and vultures - are rodents’ natural predators. If you actively protect them and their habitat, you won’t need to spend money on poisons and put desirable wildlife, pets and children at risk of accidental poisoning. Environmentally friendly tactics (such as providing tall trees that raptors favor) will encourage these birds of prey to hang around your yard and remove rodents for you.”
The CDFW encourages people to prevent rodents from coming in or near their home by keeping their home sanitary. They recommend that yards be kept neat and clean; that wood piles, debris and dense vegetation are removed; that fruit is picked up as soon as it falls from trees; that garbage cans are secured tightly and water leaks that can attract unwelcome animals and breed mosquitoes are sealed. Much more information can be found on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website at: CDFW
Be kind to bats:
Teach your child to love bats. Contrary to myth, bats won’t get tangled in your hair or attack you without being provoked and chances of them being rabid are miniscule. Bats consume more than 1,000 mosquitoes in one evening, so many people build bat houses to encourage them to settle in their yards. If one enters your home, turn off all the lights and open doors and windows. Bats are very sensitive to air currents, so the bat should leave on its own. If the bat still doesn’t leave, you can try to catch the animal in a net or call animal control. Just remember that killing the bat isn’t necessary and your child will learn to be compassionate if you handle the situation humanely.
Be kind to backyard wildlife:
Santa Barbara residents love their gardens. But if it comes at the expense of rabbits, gophers or other wild animals, we are teaching our children that flowers and vegetables are more important than an animal’s life. There are many ways to humanely deter animals from your garden. For ideas, visit a previous Pet Chat column: wildlife
Don’t use pesticides or fertilizers on your lawn. Not only are these chemicals poisonous to animals, they’re toxic to humans as well. Go organic if you want to control weeds and fertilize your plants. There are many all-natural products on the market that won’t cause damage to animals or humans. Your child will learn at an early age that there are natural, nontoxic ways to control pests in the yard.
Be kind to wild critters:
Hking is a great way to get children to connect with nature and animals. However, tadpoles, insects and other tiny creatures should be left in their natural environment versus disrupting and destroying their niche in the ecosystem by bringing them home as pets. Wild animals should remain in the wild.
Be kind to sea animals:
If your child is celebrating his or her birthday, what better way to celebrate than a picnic in the park! But are those birthday balloons really necessary? If just one balloon breaks free, it can drift into the ocean and end up in the stomach of sea animals. You can ask guests to bring a children’s book instead of a balloon as a gift for your child.
Other ways to show you care:
Teach your children to speak out for animals. Children can learn at a young age that they can impact how the animals are treated in their community. To reach children and adults nationwide, American Humane Association invites everyone to visit: Kindness, where they can find a fascinating historical retrospective of “Be Kind to Animals Week,” a series of pre-K-5 curricula to teach children the value of compassion, and a pledge with four things people can do to improve the lives of billions of animals.
By teaching your children at a young age to love and respect all animals, you will be instilling in them a compassionate way of life.