By Ellyce Rothrock
May 1-7 is the official Be Kind to Animals Week. Designating a specific week for animal kindness is a great idea, especially for those who aren’t graced with an innate love of our fellow creatures and don’t consider them all that often. Nothing bad will ever come of PSAs, news stories and a revival of adorable pet memes and photo posts raising awareness of our humane obligation to just be nice to animals. Maybe more homeless pets will find their forever home. Maybe more parents will teach their children to respect wildlife and not harass it. Maybe it will inspire more owners to slow down and give their furry family members more quality time filled with the love they deserve.
Being kind to animals should be a part of everyone’s everyday consciousness (and, let’s face it…if you’re reading this, it probably is). It’s easier than you might think to do multiple kind deeds for all animals on a regular basis—not just the ones in your own lives—thanks to charitable organizations, responsible corporations and more. It doesn’t have to be difficult, and you can incorporate it into other regular activities.
- Sign up for community co-op programs, like Ralph’s community rewards, or Kroger or Fred Meyer. Inquire whether your local grocery retailer participates in co-ops that donate a portion of your purchase to your preferred charity.
- Shop and support your cause. Digital shopping spaces, like igive.com, turn everyday online shopping into donations for worthy causes, at no cost to shoppers or the causes they support.
- Buy cruelty-free products. Mother’s Market, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Sprouts and other retail outlets offer lots of options for just about every corner of the personal healthcare market. Some mass retailers are getting in on the act, too, so Target might carry what you’re looking for. Encourage these manufacturers to keep doing what they do with your dollars!
- Wrap it up. You think you go through towels fast? Think about shelter and rescue facilities that bathe multiple dogs on a daily basis. Freshening a bathroom with new linens is one of the easiest updates you can make to a space; take those soon-to-be-replaced towels to local shelters or rescue groups. Drop them off on your way to Ralph’s, where you’ve signed up for your community co-op.
- Think outside the cat/dog box. There are rescues for all kinds of animal life, including seals, birds, big cats, farm animals … you name it. Those rescues don’t fund themselves. Why not do something completely different and visit one of these organizations for a couple hours on a weekend, with children, and offer a donation (or patronize the gift shop)? Afterward, you might be surprised at how much fun you had … and the new appreciation you acquired.
- Teach children well. During walks to the park, at the beach or whenever the topic arises, talk to your kids about animals. Share your excitement, but also teach them about compassion, respect and understanding when it comes to our animal friends. Explain why it’s not OK to harass geese or feed the ducks. Do a bird house-painting craft project at home and talk about animals—and why you care about the ones you hope will nest in your backyard.
- Branch out. Local and regional gardens often feature diorama displays of local wildlife; offer activities for seniors, families and kids; host education/fun nights and much more. They do a great deal of work to promote a love of nature and animals, so why not consider offering your support? It’s as easy as a lovely walk in the park.
- Take a stand. Visit kindness100.org to take the American Humane pledge and help build a better world for all animals. This website offers lots of insight and education about animal welfare.
- Donate online to any animal welfare organization of your choice. It doesn’t get easier than that. Professor Google will yield thousands of results for groups that care for your favorite animal and would gladly take whatever you could offer. Get kids involved. Let them pick a favorite animal, read and learn about it, and, as a treat or reward, they get to give a gift to that organization. It’s got donations, it’s got lessons, it’s got compassion and a sense of giving instead of receiving. Can’t you feel all the feels?
- Get more ambitious. Volunteer with a shelter or with a rescue organization. Many hold “dog walk days,” where prescreened volunteers can show up on a Saturday morning and walk a dog. What better way to start your weekend or take some time to determine if the time is right to adopt/rescue? Call to set up a screening appointment (a get-to-know-you introduction) with any animal charity organization—especially those for homeless dogs and cats. Even if that means committing to one day every other month. Ask if you can help in ways other than monetarily. Donate your skills and time.