By Phil Snyder, Executive Director of Suncoast Humane Society
Published in the Englewood Sun on May 3, 2015
Each calendar year, there are more than 100 days, weeks, and months dedicated to celebrating animals and what they mean to us. Some bring to light important messages in animal shelter, care, protection, and welfare, while many are more fun and light-hearted.
We promote Adopt a Cat Month, Adopt a Dog Month, Adopt a Senior Pet Month, Spay/Neuter Awareness Month and Prevention of Cruely to Animals Month. We are reminded that other little creatures are in need of homes with months dedicated to the adoption of rescued birds, rabbits, and guinea pigs.
There are awareness months for medical needs, such as Pet Dental Health, Pet Cancer Awareness and Pet Diabetes Month. Serious issues are adressed with Microchip Your Pet Month, Train Your Dog Month, Pet Theft Awareness Month, Dog Fight Awareness Day and Animal Cruelty/Human Violence Awareness Week.
And when is the last time you remembered to celebrate Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day, If Pets Had Thumbs Day, Answer Your Cat's Question Day, and Work Like a Dog Day?
There is, however, one celebrated week that is the grandaddy of all of them. In my opinion, it is also the most meaningful. Each year, the first full week of May is "National Be Kind to Animals Week." It is actually the nation's oldest celebrated week, originated in 1915 by the American Humane Association. The intent was to encourage compassion for all animals. It is nice to know that, even 100 years ago, the importance of being compassionate was valued enough to dedicate a week to honor it.
In 1952, "Be Kind to Animals Week" received the official endorsements of both the U.S. and Canadian governments. And, in 1990, celebrating its 75th anniversary, Congress passed a resolution declaring it was to be honored during the first full week of May.
Today it remains a week when humane societies commemorate the role animals play in our lives and in society. We promote ways to respect them and treat them humanely, while encouraging others to do the same.
It is a building block toward a humane and compassionate society. This is a formula that should hold true not just for one week, but for all 52 weeks of the year.