A Celebration of Compassion: Be Kind to Animals Week by Ed Boks

Be Kind to Animals Week was the first large-scale campaign to bring attention to animal welfare in the United States. The idea extended from “Mercy Sunday”, a partnership between American Humane and clergy in several states. But the need for a more cohesive, nationwide campaign was seen as a natural outgrowth of the association’s mission and its collaboration with humane societies throughout the country.

In 1914, plans were discussed to expand the movement to create a unified celebration on a national level. Dr. William O. Stillman, president of the American Humane, believed strongly in a systemic approach that would bring the “tenets of kindness to those who would not otherwise be brought under its influence.” The objectives were to heighten public awareness through humane education, highlight the work of humane societies, and again ask clergy to speak about child and animal welfare issues on what had been renamed “Humane Sunday.”

The inaugural Be Kind to Animals Week, May 17-23, 1915, was a revolutionary concept. With radio in its infancy, and long before television, American Humane effectively used the media of the day to promote the observance in 43 of 48 states. Posters and literature were distributed, and local newspapers helped publicize the events, resulting in a tremendous response.

Over the years, Be Kind to Animals Week has continued to grow and embed itself into the popular lexicon and the public’s consciousness. In 1973, the children’s TV show Romper Room promoted it, and in 1990, Congress passed a resolution declaring May 6-12 as Be Kind to Animals Week and National Pet Week. It also has been featured in thousands of news stories and even in comic strips, including Dennis the Menace and Mutts.

In 2007, the 93-year tradition continues with a weeklong celebration of kindness and compassion May 6-12. [From Spring Issue of “The National Humane Review” pg. 5]

LA Animal Services is celebrating Be Kind To Animals Week with a week-long Adoption Promotion to encourage Angelenos to do the kindest thing of all – provide a loving home to a homeless pet. From May 6 through May 13, all adoption fees will be reduced by 50%!