From Michael Vicks indictment for dog fighting to Leona Helmsley naming a canine her heir, the relationship between people and animals makes headlines. At the same time, millions of people who care about animals are quietly making a difference in their lives through the choices they make every day.
In honor of World Animal Week, October 4 Җ 10, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) offers ten tips to make the world a better place for animals, and people, too!
1. Help reduce animal overpopulation - Every year, between 6 and 8 million dogs and cats enter shelters in the U.S. Sadly, about half of these animals are euthanized because there are not enough homes for them. This problem is made worse by factory-styleӔ dog-breeding facilities known as puppy mills, which put profit above the welfare of animals.
You can help by:
Adopting your next new friend from an animal shelter or rescue group instead of buying from a breeder or pet store.
Օ Making sure your new companion animal is spayed or neutered.
Doing research to ensure you select the companion animal that's right for your family.
2. Report animal cruelty - Despite the fact that animal cruelty is illegal, it remains prevalent in our society and often goes unreported. Not only do these acts cause animal suffering, they are linked to violence within families and society.
You can help by:
Օ Learning how to recognize signs of cruelty, abuse or neglect.
Reporting cruelty to your local humane society, animal control or law enforcement agency.
Օ Educating yourself and others about how to properly care for companion animals.
3. Live in harmony with your wild neighbors - As urban development continues to destroy wild habitat, animals are forced to live in closer proximity to humans.
Heres how you can help:
ҕ Prevent conflicts with wildlife before they occur by securing garbage cans, feeding companion animals indoors, blocking holes in your home.
Control nuisance animals humanely.
Օ Keep your cat inside.
If you find an orphaned or injured animal, contact your local wildlife rehabilitator, police, or animal control officer. Never approach or try to handle a wild animal.
Օ Create a haven for wildlife in your backyard by planting trees or shrubs, providing water and limiting your use of pesticides.
4. Make more humane food choices - Billions of farm animals are raised and killed for human consumption each year. Most of these animals are subjected to cruelty behind the closed doors of factory farms, where they are treated as little more than meat-making machines.
You can help by making informed, humane choices:
Beware of misleading labels such as Փnatural, which have no meaning in terms of animal welfare and may be placed on products from animals raised on factory farms.
ԕ Choose only free range or organic meat, milk and eggs, or products certified as coming from humanely raised animals.
Make healthy food choices by adding more fruits and veggies to your diet and reducing your consumption of meat.
5. Use the power of the purse - Every year, untold numbers of animals are subjected to painful procedures in safety testing for cosmetic and household products.
HereՒs how you can help:
Shop with compassion. Choose only products that you are sure have not been tested on animals. Look for the Leaping Bunny Logo Ֆ the highest level of assurance that a company is cruelty-free.
Write or call companies to let them know you will not be purchasing their products until they stop testing on animals.
6. Live light on the land - Pollution poses a threat to animals in many forms.
To help, follow the three ՓRs:
ԕ Reduce. Don't use "throw-away" products like paper plates, napkins, and plastic silverware.
Recycle. Rinse all recyclable glass and plastic containers that might attract animals and cut apart each ring in plastic six-pack carriers before discarding them.
Օ Reuse. Take your own bags to stores to carry home your groceries and shopping.
7. Be a compassionate traveler - The exploitation of animals is a common by-product of the tourism industry. Cruelty, confinement, neglect and abuse is the price millions of animals worldwide pay for tourist entertainment. Heres how you can make a difference:
ҕ Support animal-friendly services and avoid those that exploit animals.
Don't accept culture as a justification for cruelty.
Օ Never pose for a photo with a wild animal.
Never use animal rides or transport that could cause suffering.
Օ Never buy wildlife souvenirs or products that may have endangered or caused suffering to animals, such as ivory, tortoiseshell, fur, and horns.
8. Avoid establishments that keep wild animals in captivity - The public display industry exacts a heavy physical and mental toll on wild animals. Meeting the complex needs of wild animals is nearly impossible in captive situations. Heres how you can help:
ҕ Don't visit marine parks, zoos, or other establishments that hold wild animals in captivity.
If you want to observe animals, visit places that allow people to view them in natural and humane conditions such as national parks, nature reserves, animal sanctuaries, or rehabilitation centers.
Օ Try wild dolphin or whale watching. These eco-friendly excursions enable tourists to become immersed in the natural world of marine mammals without threatening the health and welfare of wild species.
9. Be prepared for disaster - Tornadoes, earthquakes or hurricanes can strike at any time, with little or no notice. Without an easy-to-execute plan, families are sometimes forced to choose between their own safety and the safety of their beloved animals.
Be prepared by:
Assembling an emergency kit in advance for your family including companion animals.
Օ Evacuating early, if you can, before a mandatory evacuation order is issued.
Taking your animals with you and making sure they wear identification tags.
10. Support pet friendly international recognition of the importance of animal welfare - Billions of animals around the world rely on people to treat them with compassion. WSPA believes that an international agreement on welfare standards should become a key goal for the animal welfare movement in the 21st century. A Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare at the United Nations would recognize animals as sentient beings and act as a catalyst for better animal welfare provisions worldwide.