October 4, 2013
Celebrating The Creatures We Love With World Animal Day
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
October 4 has been traditionally known as the feast day of Francis Assisi, the patron saint of animals. So what better way to celebrate animals than on the day already honored for an animal and nature enthusiast?
World Animal Day came into being in Florence, Italy in 1931 at a convention of ecologists. The day was set aside to celebrate all forms of animal life, and annually, events and celebrations are held across the globe to bring attention to the plight of all animals, especially those that are threatened and endangered.
Traditionally, the day was observed by churches with the Sunday closest to Oct 4 being a day for ‘Blessing of the Animals.’ However, the day has gone beyond the Christian scene and is now celebrated the world over by zoos, parks, schools, animal shelters, and conservation groups, etc. Such groups hold fundraising events and open days, information displays and projects, pledges and drives, all in the name of animal well-being.
World Animal Day is now celebrated in every country, with no regard to nationality, religion, faith or political status. As reported in a previous redOrbit article, “The only requirement is a love (or at least a sincere respect) for all animals, even the frightening ones.”
To help bring attention to this day of celebration, worldanimalday.org.uk offers a specialized platform for event organizers and planners to get the word out to citizens all around the world on how they can contribute to remembering, honoring and saving our animal friends. Many organizations and groups go a little above and beyond, and not only set aside one day for animal celebration, but often a few days, a week, or even a year.
Among this year’s planned events are ones to bring attention to the plight of our beloved best friends, cats and dogs, as well as a bevy of other creatures great and small.
Among the celebrations, the Helsinki Humane Society (HESY) is organizing an event to promote the renewal of Finland’s Animal Welfare Act. This Act is to be renewed next year and HESY is taking this opportunity to inform the public about the importance of renewing the current outdated law. The event will take place on October 6.
A UK animal welfare group known as SPANA will be running art and story writing contests for children of all ages to bring attention to not just World Animal Day, but animals everyday. The contests are being held by age group with kids of five to seven years old being asked to design a poster with the title ‘Animals have feelings too;’ eight- to 11-year-olds are being asked to design a poster with the title ‘Why animals are important;’ and kids 12 years and older are asked to write a short story with the title ‘How the donkey saved my family.’
All winning artwork will be turned into a poster that will be used to brighten up classrooms all around the UK. The winning story will be transformed and translated into a book for children to enjoy across the world. The contest runs through November 8. Visit www.SPANA.org for more information.
Closer to home, a special event is being planned in Miami, Florida to help bring attention to cats and kittens by organizing a ‘Save A Stray-Prevent A Litter Day.’ The Cat Network, Inc. will be honoring World Animal Day by hosting spay/neuter days. Cat Network members can have their pet spayed or neutered for $25.00, while non-members can have it done for $50.00. The spay/neuter program will also include eartips and rabies vaccinations. The company’s goal is to prevent the onslaught of “KITTEN SEASON.”
A much larger event is also beginning today with both cats and dogs in mind.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is launching a year-long global education program called ‘Cats, Dogs and Us.’
According to the fund’s site: “Cats and dogs are two of the world’s most universal species, living side by side with people in hundreds of millions of homes and communities in every human society on this planet. Yet, on every continent and in every culture, dogs and cats continue to be subject to cruel and inhumane treatment. And a growing body of research has shown that violence against animals is connected to violence against people.”
IFAW already has an Animal Action Education program that addresses these issues. However, the new program looks to introduce students around the world to the many different ways people and pets live together and will help them “develop knowledge, skills, and empathy and respect.”
IFAW, founded in 1969, has been saving animals in crisis around the world since its inception. With projects going strong in more than 40 countries around the world, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more info, visit www.ifaw.org.
While most of these events are focusing on our feline and canine companions, World Animal Day is also a good time to bring attention to the numerous animal species around the world that are suffering from the damaging effects of climate change.
In recent news, animals such as polar bears, tigers, caribou, and coral, etc. have been highlighted as animals of most concern, being negatively impacted by the effects of climate change and other factors. Many environmental and conservation groups have been fighting to save these species from the brink of extinction for years, if not longer.
Perhaps taking just one day to celebrate the animals we love is not too much to ask, but remembering them every day is needed to save many of those which cannot save themselves.