Thursday, April 28, 2011

Celebrate "Be Kind to Animals" Week

Be Kind to Animals Week

be kind to animals button

May 1-7, 2011 is national Be Kind to Animal Week. Since 1915, the American Humane Association has dedicated one week every year to celebrate the ways that animals benefit our lives, and to promote our kindness to them in return.

Every year that this week rolls around, I wonder why we need a Be Kind to Animals Week. Is the week meant to be a celebration of our successes in protecting animals? Or is it meant to be a reminder that we need to consider our actions toward other living creatures? Maybe it also serves as a reminder to be kind to people, too.

As we remember our furry, feathered and even scaly friends for the first week of May, I encourage all of us to do one new thing to show kindness to animals. Maybe we decide to volunteer in a new way. Maybe we decide to contact a legislator about animal protection laws. Maybe we take a stand against animal cruelty, dog fighting or inhumane farming. Or maybe we decide to look at our relationship with our own pets and make our homes more compassionate.

I invite all of you to share your ideas for improving kindness toward animals on our AARF Facebook page. Together, we can make a world where every pet matters!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Children and Pets CAN Live Together!

Pets and Children CAN Live Together!

One of the top three reasons that people give up their pets involves children. We receive several calls and emails every week from people who claim to love their pets, but just can't keep their pets in the home because of the children. Many rescue groups won't adopt to young couples, or even to young, single adults, because chances are, when a child comes along, the pet will be returned.

Some people decide to give up their pets as soon as they learn they are expecting a child. They don't even try to keep their 4-legged family members as they anticipate the addition of their new 2-legged member.

Some people give up their pets when their baby starts crawling,

girl hugging dog
Can you recognize how this dog is feeling about the hug? If not, you may be surprised by a bite that might come next.

walking, falling and grabbing. A pet who may have tolerated the new screaming, smelly addition to the home suddenly seems to have little patience for the newly mobile creature. Rather than training their pet and monitoring their child, parents instead decide that their formerly good dog or cat has suddenly gone "bad."

The truth is - dogs and cats almost never just turn bad. Instead, pets tolerate the stress of unwelcome hugs, stolen toys and grabby hands for as long as they can. Dog trainer Casey Lomonaco describes a dog bite as a losing game of Tetris. Stress builds up in a dog much like the screen on a Tetris game. When the dog's stress board is full, the game is over and a bite happens. But, a pet's owner has missed several opportunities along the way to recognize and reduce stress.

boy hugging cat
Cat body language may be more subtle, but learning to read the signs can prevent a scratch or bite.

If you are a parent, it's up to you to make sure that your pets and your children can co-exist. If you just hope that everything works out, and it doesn't, it will be your responsibility, not your pet's or your child's responsibility.

If you know someone struggling with pets and children, it is your

responsibility to provide resources to

the parents to save both the pet and the child from irreparable damage.

If you are considering adding a pet to a home with children, or adding a child to a home with pets, please prepare your home for our new family member.

And finally, if your home has both pets and children, and you are creating a safe, healthy and happy environment for everyone, we want to hear your story! Log on to our Facebook page and post your family's story. We want to celebrate you for making it work!

Additional Resources:

Why Dogs Bite and How They Warn Us

How Are Dog Bites Like Tetris?

Do Dogs Bite Out of the Blue?

Teach Kids to Play With - and Care For - Kitty