World Animal Day is about raising the status of animals in society, encouraging a more compassionate view of the lives of animals, and promoting the practical improvement of animal welfare standards. It is held on the 4th of October every year.
This date was not chosen at random, as it is also the feast day of St Francis of Assisi. St Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of the environment and animals.
The first ever World Animal Day took place in 1931, when a group of ecologists got together to promote the cause of endangered animals around the world. Today it brings together animal welfare organisations and others from across the globe. It is high profile and has grown considerably since its early beginnings. In fact it has also grown considerably in the last 10 or 15 years. Just 44 official World Animal Day events were held in 2003, but that has grown to around 1,000 now, with people and organisations from over 100 countries taking part.
Part of this success is attributed to the Ambassadors Programme. It launched in 2007, with the ambassadors actively promoting the day in their local countries.
The range of groups, individuals, and organisations that get involved or take part is as diverse as it is expansive. It includes organisations working with animals but it also includes schools, children's clubs, youth groups, community groups, businesses, and individuals.
Why Is World Animal Day Important?
People have a dramatic impact on the lives of animals. This can be on an individual level, but animals are also affected by the actions of businesses, governments, and others. The impact that people have on animals is often deliberate and sometimes illegal, but it can also happen inadvertently.
World Animal Day seeks to highlight these issues while at the same time improving both attitudes and actions. It wants people across the world to physically treat animals well, but it also wants them to regard animals compassionately, positively, and with respect. There is a significant fundraising element too, as animal welfare organisations can use the popularity of the day to run campaigns and events.
Other conservation days exist throughout the year but they are usually aimed at a particular species or group of animals, or a particular animal welfare concern or problem. Animal Welfare Day is different as it encompasses all types of animals and anything that puts them at risk or lowers their quality of life.
Individuals and organisations can get involved in World Animal Day in a variety of ways. This includes organising or attending educational events, workshops, or conferences. Some get involved by fundraising, while others launch PR initiatives to get airtime on radio and television.
Here are some other things that people organise or take part in, though the list is not limited to:
• Open days at animal shelters
• Events to encourage people to adopt a pet
• Spay and neuter events
• Animal treatment camps
• Prevention and awareness of rabies
These events do everything from raise awareness in small groups of people, to changing national laws. Working under a central group like World Animal Day allows more to be achieved in a shorter period of time.
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