5 Ways to Be Kind to Animals This Week

It’s Be Kind to Animals Week! Did you know that? You may know the American Humane Association best as the group that oversees animal use during filming and bestows the “No Animals Were Harmed” disclaimer at the end of shows and movies, but they are very involved in advocacy for not only animals, but also children- society’s most vulnerable members. Anyway, they started this special week and it’s a lovely opportunity to step back and reflect on what we are doing right, and what we could be doing better.

Golden mauling


I know the people who read here are a self-selecting group that is already very aware of animal welfare, so this might be preaching to the choir, but it never hurts to have an official mandate to make a conscious effort to do a kind thing. Here are 5 different ways you can celebrate this week (and every week!)

Emmett keys1. Teach an old dog a new trick.

Studies in mice have demonstrated that mental enrichment can actually slow down cognitive decline due to age, a finding that can have huge implications for pets as well as people. Animals whose brains are challenged, through interaction, puzzle feeders, and daily tasks may actually tolerate the aging process better than those who lay about all day with nothing to think about. So keep up that Sudoku, because it probably affects us too. Brains: use em or lose em.

2. Offer to give a presentation to a school or scout troop.

No group of humans is more receptive to a talk about animal welfare than a group of little kids. And that’s a good thing, because they’re the ones who are going to grow up and take over for us some day. From how to greet a strange dog to how to teach a cat to sit, the possibilities are endless. It doesn’t take much: we want to get them engaged, because then they care- and you would be amazed at how often kids are the ones who get a busy parent to take a dog to training or to the vet.

3. Do a shelter drive-by

I have yet to come across a shelter or rescue that said, “We’re good, thanks” when I pop my head in on the way to Petsmart and asked, “What are you low on?” It’s something small- that’s what makes it easy- a few bags of Milk-Bones, some towels, toys, that sort of thing- but it’s a habit now, and it’s easy. Best part is, my kids see me doing it and are now coming up with drives and fundraisers of their own. The indoctrination has begun!

4. Pick a wildlife or environmental issue to learn about


We suffer from over-insulation sometimes, oblivious to the big picture because it’s not something that is confronting us immediately and doesn’t have an impact on our day-to-day lives. I’m not asking you to get a PhD, or make a $10,000 donation- just pick something, and learn about it. Then report back to me, because I want to learn about it too, be it the impact of human encroachment on mountain lion habitats, the impact of overfishing, whatever floats your boat. I don’t know when being inquisitive about the world around us went out of fashion- maybe it’s just me getting crotchety with age- but I, for one, embrace being nerdy and wanting to learn, learn, learn.

5. Don’t be afraid to stand up for animals

I’ve gotten my share of eye rolls from people when I’ve waited by cars on hot days to make sure the owner came back before the car overheated. I’ve had pursed lips from parents when I, as politely as possible, told their child that the way they were handling an animal was inappropriate- and why. (P.S. I’ve also gotten really good at giving them the Mean Stranger head shake when their parents aren’t looking. Yes, I go there.) I have to conduct myself in a certain manner as a member of the veterinary profession, but I also have an obligation to advocate for those who can’t do it for themselves. And I do. Politely, of course.

Any good suggestions I’ve missed? How will you celebrate Be Kind to Animals Week?

Filed: Be The Change, Blog, Daily Life, Health, Picks of the Litter Tagged: ,
  • Tabitha

    This is going to sound silly but…
    There is a local pet food store that has older cats from a local rescue up for adoption. They come and go as they get adopted out but there are always cats and bunnies there. On my lunch breaks I go to the pet food store and spend my time cuddling with the cats, or just playing and talking with them through the cage. This is more of a win-win situation. Sometimes we donate some food to the donation box, but I always feel that the more attention the cats have the more social they will be and more likely to find a home, but I also get to cuddle with the cats

    • Lacy

      That doesn’t sound silly at all! Many times, the people that work in these places don’t have time to give the animals the attention that they crave.

    • I love that! Not silly at all.

  • Cathey

    I love it – sort of a ‘pay it forward’ on the animal side! Thanks for giving us several good ideas, Dr. V!

  • Lisa W

    I’m “womanning” at table for Carolina Tiger Rescue at our local Relay for Life on Friday. I recently started volunteering there and am totally falling in love with the big cats (it’s not only tigers there). I start training as a tour guide in a couple of weeks and I can’t wait! If we had a dog sanctuary in the area I would certainly volunteer there, since that’s what I plan for my future, but this is fascinating and exposing me to a whole new type of animal.

    I have to thank Tim Harrison of Outreach for Animals for getting me interested — the film The Elephant in the Living Room is all about the exotic animal trade in the US. I saw the film and met Tim and the film’s director at last year’s HSUS Taking Action for Animals conference in DC. I recommend the film to anyone and the conference to anyone who wants to learn and/or do more for animals on a local, state, US, or international level!

    • Lisa W

      Oops, it’s on Saturday. Must have had Friday on the brain, seeing as how it’s Monday and all…

    • I love how much he has inspired you to take action! Love it!!

  • 6. Always be a good example of pet ownership. People are always watching.

  • Love the idea of the shelter drive-by! Most organizations also post their most-needed items online. It’s easy to check in there just before heading out to the store and I am sure it is much appreciated!

  • Here are some tips you missed:
    Feed us more TOONA
    Give us extra food for breakfast
    Feed us some extra lunch noms
    At dinner give us a little extra, plus some from your plate.

    • How could I have forgotten those vital tips? Thanks Romeo!

  • dog diapers

    I know the individuals who research here are a self-selecting group that is already very aware of animal well being, so this might be saying to the choir, but it never results to have an official need to try to do a kind factor.