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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Be Kind to Animals Week (which should be EVERY week)

National Be Kind to Animals Week is coming up, May 7-13. Of course for real critter lovers, EVERY week (day, moment) is an exercise in kindness to the furry/feathered/finned ones in our lives. But raising public awareness on this subject is certainly a worthy endeavor. It's the 90th year for the "week," originated by the American Humane Association.

There are plenty of local and national events planned, including one at Miami-Dade Animal Services' shelter, NW 74th St./NW 74th Ave. in Medley.

The department, in a press release today, asked schools to submit student artwork ''to celebrate the unique bond between humans and animals...Kids and pets have always had a special bond. This important art project serves as a great way to acknowledge and reward the unique relationship between pets and their owners, and, hopefully will inspire others to share their love and affection for our furry friends.

''The artwork will brighten the animal shelter's kennel hallway and serve as a reminder to potential adopters that shelter animals make wonderful, loving pets.''

Call Aileen Sanchez, 305-805-1778, if you know kids who are interested in participating.

I'm here to tell you that shelter critters make great pets, being the stepmom of a fantastic fellow named Cowboy, Golden/??, headed for certain death at the shelter last fall. He was terribly sick with flu and cost many hundreds of dollars to treat, but it was worth every cent 10-fold.

He is smart, playful, and endlessly amusing. He cocks his head like a cartoon dog when he's listening, and has a habit of very deliberately crossing his front paws when he lies down.

The shelter is a controversial place constantly battling airborne disease because it's old and badly ventilated. But a new one is in the works, which should markedly improve conditions.

What will REALLY improve life for animals in South Florida is if pet owners spay, neuter and STOP PATRONIZING PUPPY MILLS. Thousands of animals die at the shelter every year because irresponsible owners fail to do these simple things. People behave badly, and animals pay the price.

Universal spaying and neutering will sharply reduce the number of unwanted animals. Puppy mills are notorious for breeding and selling sick dogs, and MUST be boycotted out of existence. In addition, there is no reason to pay (sometimes absurd) fees for dogs when thousands are available nearly free at the county shelter, the Humane Society, and through a myraid rescue groups (breed-specific and general).

So tell anyone you know who's thinking of getting a pet that the greatest kindness is to save the life of a stray, during the upcoming Be Kind to Animals Week or any week.

To read more about national events, click here.