Celebrate the annual tradition of “Be Kind to Animals Week”, May 3-9 by promoting ways to treat animals humanely. It’s also a great opportunity to teach your children respect for all living beings.
The American Humane Association has been celebrating “Be Kind to Animals Week” since 1915. The American Humane Association was founded in 1877 to protect animals and children from abuse and neglect. Today, they work with child and animal protection agencies around the country to develop policies, legislation, and training programs to carry out their original mission. In this annual tradition of “Be Kind to Animals Week,” shelters across the nation commemorate the role animals play in our lives, promote ways to continue to treat them humanely, and encourage others, especially children, to do the same. 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.
Show you care in the home.
Shower your pets with love and attention. 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.
Adopt. If you don’t have a pet, think about adopting. Close to 4 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.
Teach your child that all animals are important.
Don’t squash those spiders. If you see a spider in your home, the first instinct may be to kill 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 eliminate disease-carrying insects like mosquitoes. You can do the same with other insects you find in your home. My kids and I make it a game when we find a bug or spider inside the house. One person watches it while the other goes to get a cup to catch it and take it outside. Then we watch to see where it goes once we let it out.
Play nice with mice. If you find that you have a mouse in your home, catch it with a live trap. Once the mouse is caught, you can take it outside to release it; then be sure to seal all entryways so the mouse doesn’t get back into the house.
Teach your child to respect bats. 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 up all the 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.
Show you care outside the home.
Humanely deter animals from your garden. I know that people love their gardens. But if it comes at the expense of rabbits, gophers, or other animals, are we teaching our children that flowers are more important than an animal’s life? There are many ways to humanely deter animals from your garden. You can place mesh cages over young plants and sink bottles into the ground allowing the wind to blow across them creating a noise deterrent. Motion-activated noisemakers, owl decoys, and pinwheels can also be effective deterrents.
Avoid pesticides. Don’t use pesticides or fertilizers on your lawn. Not only are these chemicals poisonous to animals, they’re toxic to humans as well. 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.
Banish balloons. 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 our oceans and end up in the stomach of sea life, which then causes their death. You can ask guests to bring a children’s book instead of a balloon as a gift for your child.
Choose paper over plastic. At the grocery store do you ask for paper or plastic? If you’re really environmentally conscious, you probably bring your own bag. If not, show your child you care about wildlife by opting for paper bags over plastic. Paper is best, because birds, turtles and dolphins often get tangled in and swallow plastic grocery bags that end up in waterways.
Wild animals should remain in the wild. Hiking 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 vs. disrupting and destroying their niche in the ecosystem by bringing them home as pets.
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. Become informed about policies and legislation that affect animals. You can register to receive Action Alerts from American Humane and you’ll be able to teach your children about animal advocacy. For more information, visit americanhumane.org.
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. Be kind to animals this week and every week!
Adoptable Pet of the Week
Minnie is a very sweet four-year-old kitty that is very easy going. She loves people and will sit politely when someone strokes her on the head. One look into her green eyes and you will fall in love. She likes to take catnaps but is also very playful. She would prefer a home without any dog friends but may be able to get used to one. Minnie is a great cat with lots of love to give!
For more information on adopting, visit the Santa Barbara Humane Society at 5399 Overpass Road, or call 805-964-4777. Shelter hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. To check out more adoptable pets, visit sbhumanesociety.org.
Lisa Acho Remorenko is executive director of Animal Adoption Solutions, www.animaladoptionsolutions.com