Lorna Trumbull, a marketing executive in New York City, considers it kismet that she learned about Be Kind to Animals Week and the Best Friends Animal Society on the same day back in 2007. After reading in a local newspaper about the American Humane Association’s annual weeklong celebration of the bond between humans and animals, she heard about the Best Friends volunteer program from the National Geographic channel.

“I wanted to acknowledge Be Kind to Animals Week in an active way, so I took a trip to Best Friends in Utah, where I got to spend five days caring for and playing with shelter cats,” says Trumbull. “I met people who are totally devoted to making the lives of animals better, and I left feeling so hopeful. I’ve made it an annual tradition — this year will be my fourth visit.”

Below, learn more about the Be Kind to Animals Week tradition and ways in which you can recognize it.

The History
The American Humane Association — not to be confused with the Humane Society — was founded in 1877 to protect animals and children from abuse and neglect. Today, they work with child and animal protection agencies around the country to develop policies, legislation and training programs to carry out their original mission.

Be Kind to Animals Week originated in 1915 to promote the association’s philosophy: that a world in which we treat animals well is a nicer place to live. For the last 95 years, Be Kind to Animals Week has taken place in the beginning of May. (This year’s date is May 2 to 8.)

Humane Education
Giving your cat an extra portion of catnip certainly makes you a participant in Be Kind to Animals Week, but the Humane Association thinks on a broader scale. It promotes teaching the world at large to care for animals in their homes and communities — from butterflies and raccoons to house cats and hamsters. “The end goal is to create a more compassionate and responsible society,” explains Heather Black, a spokesperson for the organization.

How You Can Be Kind

  • Update your Twitter or Facebook status. Spread the word and tell your friends about Be Kind to Animals Week. Recommends the Humane Association for your status: “So many animals. So many ways to be kind. Celebrate Be Kind to Animals Week, May 2-8.”
  • Become an armchair activist. Register for action alerts on the ASPCA or Humane Association Web sites. When issues impacting animals come up, you’ll receive emails allowing you to sign petitions, donate money or even volunteer your time for the cause. “If you know what’s going on with animals in your community, you can reach out to your local representative or help in other ways,” emphasizes Black.
  • Teach your children well. When kids grow up understanding the worth of the lives of all animals, they are likely to take those values into adulthood and pass them on to their own children. Set up an outdoor bird feeder for birds in the winter. Encourage your children to take responsibility for some aspect of your household pet’s care.
  • Take good care of your pet. Make time during Be Kind to Animals Week to ensure that your cat’s vaccinations are up to date, that your cat is wearing the correct identification and that it’s spayed or neutered. Or just spend some extra time playing with your pet.
  • Adopt an animal. Around four million pets are euthanized each year because they don’t have a home. Shelters and rescues have the perfect pet for your family — from purebreds to mixed breeds. “Make sure to do your research about the level of care your pet will need before you bring it home,” advises Black. “Choose the right pet or breed for your lifestyle.”

Lorna Trumbull discovered
Best Friends sanctuary and the joys of giving love to cats without their own
homes in part because of Be Kind to Animals Week. She now has her own ideas
about improving the tradition. She says, “I think it should be every day.”