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It doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that National Pet Week and Be Kind to Animals Week fall on the same week of the year. Animals, whether living with us as domesticated pets or out in the wild, have a lot to teach us about kindness, compassion, and connection.
The History of Two Holidays
Both holidays were created in the 20th century by different organizations that are passionate about animals. Be Kind to Animals Week was added to the calendar in 1915 by American Humane, an organization that has been committed to protecting the welfare and safety of animals since 1877. Originally formed to help advocate for more humane treatment of farm animals, American Humane is one of the oldest animal welfare societies in the United States.
In 1915, the organization ran a poster contest for children to kick off its first annual Be Kind to Animals Week in an effort to spread awareness for animal welfare, calling it a campaign for kindness. It was so successful that the American Humane Association president at the time, Dr. William O. Stillman, reported that “the humane movement never received as much general publicity in the same length of time as during the few weeks before and including ‘Be Kind to Animals Week’ and ‘Humane Sunday.’”
In 1922, President Warren G. Harding issued an official proclamation recognizing Be Kind to Animals Week as a national event.
Fast-forward to 1981, when the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) launched National Pet Week. Observed during the first full week of May each year, National Pet Week aims to celebrate the beautiful bond between pets and pet owners and to educate pet owners about how to ensure their furry friends live happy, healthy lives.
In an effort to provide pet parents with the resources they need to keep their pets healthy, the AVMA hosts a variety of informative and fun events throughout National Pet Week. These daily events feature insights from veterinarians, veterinary technicians, school groups, and pet communities from around the country.
Celebrating at Home
Although we’ll all have to find ways to celebrate these pet holidays digitally this year, there are still plenty of ways for pet parents and animal lovers across the U.S. to participate.
The AVMA has an educational lineup for the week with themes for each day:
- Sunday 5/3: Choose well: Commit for life
- Monday 5/4: Socialize now: New doesn’t have to be scary
- Tuesday 5/5: Nutrition and exercise matter
- Wednesday 5/6: Love your pet? See your vet!
- Thursday 5/7: Travel with care
- Friday 5/8: Emergencies happen: Be prepared
- Saturday 5/9: Plan for their care: Give them a lifetime of love
- Purchase humanely raised foods with an American Humane Certified™ seal to support farm animals.
- Adopt a pet from an animal shelter, as more than 6 million animals are sent to shelters each year.
- Watch movies and shows that contain the No Animals Were Harmed® end credit to support the 100,000 animals who entertain and educate us on screen each year.
You can also celebrate Be Kind to Animals Week by spreading the message on social media platforms and using #BeKindToAnimalsWeek.
Find Ways To Spread The Word 365-Days A Year
Even though each of these holidays gets a dedicated week every year, the messages they convey can be carried with us year round. Making small changes in your life to be kinder to animals, being more conscious about the health and well-being of your pets, and acting as a true friend to the animal community can have a bigger impact on the world than you would expect.