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Casper Critters

Kindness - Reach Out to Help Pets and Our Community

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05/01/2010 - By Gayle M. Irwin

Kindness – giving of oneself in service to others in order to make another's life better. In large and small ways, kindness goes a long way in the betterment of individuals and communities. Kind acts and gestures don't need to cost a lot of money or even a lot of time, yet the affirmation of a smile, a hug, or a small act of selflessness is priceless. And kindness impacts more than human lives when bestowed upon our furry friends.

The second week of May is "Be Kind to Animals Week", a week designated and recognized by American Humane, a non-profit organization based in Colorado that works to better the lives of both children and pets. Being kind to companion animals, who often give selfless devotion to their owners, can be done in one's own household and within the community. Here are some thoughts of how you and your family can be kind to animals:

At home:

• Don't leave your dog constantly kenneled or tied up in the backyard, forlorn and forgotten. Dogs need interaction and socialization; why have a pet if it's left alone outdoors all the time? Enjoy the companionship, the energy, the loyalty dogs have – relish the devotion and fun that is part of your dog's makeup!

• Keep your cat indoors and play with her when she seeks your attention. Although cats are often more independent than dogs, they still need their owner's companionship and care. And, keeping your cat indoors will protect her from roaming dogs and speeding cars.

• Make sure your pets are up-to-date on their shots. With the warming weather, more wild animals, such as raccoons and skunks, will be invading our communities, especially along streams and creeks; sometimes these creatures carry diseases harmful to our pets, such as rabies, so protect your four-footed friends with the proper vaccinations.

Within our community as well, your kindness to animals is vital. Here are some ways to help organizations that help our community's pets who are waiting for new homes:

• Casper has several animal welfare organizations that care for homeless pets. Donating your time, talent and resources goes a long way to help care for our community's thousands of animals still waiting for their forever home.

• Your donation doesn't have to cost a lot of money – recycling and donating your aluminum cans and newspapers, for example, is a help for many of these organizations. If you already recycle cans and newspaper, why not recycle them to the Humane Society, thereby helping care for the animals in their care? And, if you don't recycle these items, why not start and donate them to the Humane Society? They use newspapers to line cat cages and aluminum has monetary value that can go in the organization's coffers to buy the items necessary to run the shelter. Simply recycling your newspapers and aluminum doesn't cost you a dime and helps bring some or save some extra dimes to help Casper's homeless pets.

• Give of your time in some way to help animal rescue groups – volunteer! Perhaps you can help at a special event once or twice a year; perhaps you can sign up to walk dogs or brush cats once a week or twice a month; maybe you have carpentry or maintenance skills and can give a Saturday or Sunday afternoon to help the organization with repairs or clean-up; perhaps a few times a year you can transport a few dogs or cats to new locations for a rescue group. Contact our local animal welfare organizations, ask where they might need an extra hand, and extend that hand of kindness to the staff and the temporary 4-footed residents under their care.

Kindness doesn't have to cost money – it simply takes a bit of effort to better another life. Kindness makes a big difference, but only takes a small step. Be a role model for your children, make kindness toward animals and toward other people a positive practice as a family.

Remember that wonderful phrase "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Leave a positive legacy in your family – be kind to animals and to other people not only this month, but on into the future. Kindness makes the world a better place – and it starts with each one of us.


Gayle Irwin is an author and speaker with a deep affection and concern for pets. She is the author of two children's books: Sage's Big Adventure (2007) and Sage Learns to Share (2009). She is also a speaker in local schools as well as a former journalist and humane and conservation educator. Her publication credits include a story Chicken Soup for the Soul: Lessons Learned from the Dog. She is the proud "pet parent" of two adopted dogs, who serve as characters in her books. For more information about her writing and speaking, visit www.sagestory.com and www.gaylemirwin.com.

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