This piece was originally posted on Wagwalking.com
In 1915, American Humane launched Be Kind to Animals Week to build a better world for animals. It has since become the longest-running commemorative week in US history, with millions of Americans participating in the annual campaign on the first week of May every year.
Anyone can join, and the best part is that acts of kindness don’t have to be grand gestures. Small, simple things can help animals in big ways. Here are five activities to help you celebrate Be Kind to Animals Week this year!
Start at home
Start with the animals you share your home with! Take this week as an opportunity to check if you’ve overlooked anything with regard to their care and well-being. Does the litter box need to be cleaned? Is Fido’s annual wellness exam coming up? Are there any toys that look the worse for wear? Is a trip to the groomer’s in order?
If you’ve been staying on top of things, then “grrreat!” Why not treat your furbaby to something nice? Whether you whip up homemade treats, schedule a playdate, or take them on an adventure, do something that they don’t normally get to experience but will enjoy.
Adopt, foster, or volunteer
Give an animal in need a second chance at life by adopting from your local shelter. When you adopt a shelter dog or cat, you’re not only giving them a home and a family to call their own, but you’re also saying no to puppy and kitten mills and backyard breeders, which put profit over the well-being of animals.
If you can’t adopt, foster. Fostering also saves lives by improving an animal’s social skills, increasing their chance of getting adopted, and opening space at the shelter so that more critters can be taken in. If you can’t foster, volunteer. Animal shelters could always use an extra pair of paws.
Help keep wild animals wild
Many wildlife charities have adoption programs that let you “adopt” the animals in their care. Adoption packages, which can be purchased for yourself or as a gift, usually include a personalized adoption certificate, pictures and information about your adopted animal, and email updates. Some organizations will also send goodies such as stickers, plush toys, and postcards.
The adoption fee is basically a donation that helps these organizations continue their work in protecting wildlife. Animals that you can adopt from various charities include whales, dolphins, koalas, elephants, rhinos, sharks, and penguins.
Organize a neighborhood cleanup
Trash has a devastating effect on animals. Plastic waste in the ocean is often mistaken for food, resulting in the deaths of marine animals. In cities, animals such as feral cats, skunks, raccoons, and coyotes can get their heads stuck in jars, cans, and cups that smell like food or contain residue. So, while picking up trash is a popular Earth Day activity, it’s also fitting for Be Kind to Animals Week. When you tidy up your neighborhood, you prevent animals from ingesting litter or getting stuck in trash.
Moreover, make sure to rinse out containers and crush metal cans before throwing them away, and find ways to reduce waste so that less trash is being generated in the first place.
Eat your vegetables
One of the best ways to show kindness to animals is to not eat them. Try a plant-based recipe, pick up some veggie burger patties from the store, or check out that vegan restaurant you’ve been hearing about. Many vegan restaurants are dog-friendly too (think patios, dog menus, and/or free treats) so don’t forget to bring your canine companion with you!
Check out animal activism at work!
After spending the day eating veggie, cleaning up, or celebrating the pawsomeness of animals with your furbaby, kick back and end the week with a documentary about animal rights. Here are some titles to add to your watchlist: Blackfish, Breaking the Chain, 73 Cows, Speciesism: The Movie, and The Ghosts in Our Machine.