Animal Rights Awareness Week

In 1999, In Defense of Animals, an animal rights group, designated the third full week of June as Animal Rights Awareness Week. The goal is twofold:

  1. Help raise awareness of animal rights by educating the public about the basic needs of animals around the world
  2. Advocate for the humane and compassionate treatment of all animals.

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The focus of Purry Home Companion is mostly on pets, especially cats. However, Animal Rights Awareness Week includes animals beyond pets: wildlife (highlighting the need for conservation), farm animals, puppy mills, zoos, circuses, animals used for medical research, and any other place where animals can be found. The point of Animal Rights Awareness Week (and hopefully this post) is to get you thinking and acting. Yes, it might be uncomfortable but ultimately worthwhile. Here are some “big picture” questions to consider:

  • What rights do animals have, legally speaking?
  • How can animals, including those slaughtered for meat, be treated ethically?
  • Does animal rights extend to only certain types of animals? Why or why not?
  • How do you feel about animals used for entertainment purposes, such as in circuses and Sea World?
  • What is mankind’s effect on the environment, including the effect on animals?

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There has been a lot of discussion about the treatment of animals in circuses and amusement parks. Ringling Bros. retired its elephant and big cat acts shortly before the circus itself closed after 150 years of show business. The documentary Blackfish dressed down SeaWorld for its treatment of captive orcas. We are learning that animals have emotional, social, and psychological lives much more than we thought.

Here are a few more questions to think about:

  • Do you use pesticides that harm beneficial insects like honeybees?
  • Do the plants and animals in your garden negatively impact other wildlife? For example, if you have an outdoor cat, how does your cat’s hunting ability affect local bird populations?
  • How do you feel about testing cosmetics on animals? Do you wear cosmetics that have been tested on animals? Do you know what companies practice animal testing? Would you instead prefer to wear cruelty-free products?

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There are countless ways to raise awareness on behalf of animals. Remember to use your powers for good!

Responsible Animal Guardian Month

The animal welfare organization In Defense of Animals (IDA) established May as Responsible Animal Guardian Month. The campaign’s goal is to encourage people to treat animals with respect and fulfill their obligation to care for those they have taken in as pets. For this reason, IDA uses the term “guardian” instead of “owner”.

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Broadly speaking, responsible pet guardians are concerned with the physical, emotional, and cognitive health of their pet(s). By being solicitous about their pet’s overall well-being, said guardians are more likely to develop strong bonds with their pets. Here are ways you can be a responsible pet guardian and give the best possible pet care:

  1. Daily care. This involves providing shelter, healthy and nutritious food, appropriate regular exercise, grooming, behavior training, and at least annual vet visits for vaccines and wellness exams.
  2. Ethics. Adopting only through responsible shelters, rescues, or breeders. Always treat pets with love, compassion, and respect. Report suspected abuse or neglect.
  3. Safety. Microchip and ensure that your pet has current ID tags. Pet-proof your home. Take measures to prevent your pet from getting loose and lost. Teach others how to interact with pets safely, appropriately, and respectfully.
  4. Well-Being. Teach your pet house manners. Apply rules consistently and invest in proper behavior training. Opportunities to socialize your pet with other people and pets. Provide regular play and bonding time. Establish and provide mutual trust, respect, and abundant love between you and your pet.

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Want to learn more about being a responsible pet guardianship? The American Veterinary Medical Association provides a useful list and set of guidelines detailing the multi-faceted responsibilities of a pet guardian. In my personal opinion, being a responsible pet guardian is an important aspect of good citizenship and community involvement. Humans and animals alike benefit from the acts of responsible animal guardians. It’s a way you can use your powers for good.