Caroline Golon is a busy mom of two young girls and two rascally Persian rescue cats living in Columbus, Ohio. She’s passionate about animal welfare and creating happy households with both kids and pets. She’s a regular contributor toVetstreet.comand other pet-centric sites. You can read more about Caroline’s adventures with kids and pets at her site,Crayons and Collars.
School’s out! At first, the summer months seem to stretch out before our family as an endless opportunity for fun. Once the novelty has worn off, the dreaded words, “I’m bored!” start to emerge. Parents: have no fear. Read on for a few creative ways to keep your animal-loving kids occupied:
Collect Donations for Animals Turn your kids’ free time into a positive for animal shelters or rescues. One easy way to assist is to hold a donation drive and, with your supervision, collect supplies from your neighbors. Shelters use lots of items like old sheets and towels, empty toilet paper rolls, milk jug caps, newspapers and empty plastic water bottles to line cages, clean up messes or make DIY dog and cat toys. Use the ASPCA’s database to find an animal shelter or rescue group in your area.
Walk the Dog A great regular chore for kids during the summertime is walking the dog. Even if your kids are too young to walk the dog themselves, they can still come along. Walking the dog is good exercise for everyone, and you can make this activity even more fun by using a pedometer to count steps, or by downloading mobile apps that earn money for shelter pets each time you take your dog out for a stroll.
Write Stories about Your Pets Challenge your child to write and/or illustrate a biography about your pets—including details about where they came from, their favorite things and more. If your kids are really into the challenge, ask them to imagine what adventures your pets might like to go on. You might be surprised at your child’s willingness to write about a subject he or she loves.
Read to Your Pets Along with practicing their writing skills by writing stories about their pets, kids can practice their reading skills with their pets. Challenge your child to read a book (or more!) a day to your dog, cat, hamster or goldfish. Keep track of the number of books they read to your pet and consider creating a reward system to encourage them to continue.
By helping your kids feel excited about activities involving their furry friends, they (along with your pets!) will stay happily busy all summer long.
Every animal in the world has the right to live without fear of being hunted, tortured or abused. In our own homes, so many of us treat our pets in the same way we treat our children, and they are considered to be part of our families. Like children, pets need our protection. They are fully dependent on us for food, good health and safety.
My hope is that society realizes animals need our protection and that we work together to ensure that animals are treated with care, become vigilant about animal abuse in any shape or form and punish those who harm animals. Unless we are mindful of their interests and speak out loudly on their behalf, abuse and cruelty go unchallenged.
We can each do something to make the life of an animal better. Here are some ways to help animals right now:
Report Animal Abuse Reporting animal cruelty is vital because animals cannot help themselves; it is our duty to step in.
Adopt From a Shelter Most pet store puppies come from puppy mills and every time we patronize a store that sells puppies (even if we only buy food or pet accessories), we help fund puppy mills where mothers and puppies are bred and often kept in filthy and devastating conditions. There are countless pets waiting to be adopted at shelters in every state in our country. Visit the ASPCA’s Adopt section to find available dogs and cats in your area.
Support Animal Welfare Organizations There are so many organizations that do outstanding work to help animals and they all need our support. By donating just the cost of a few cups of coffee per month, you can help fund food, medical care and basic necessities for many animals.
Teach a Child to Love Animals Children learn so much from having pets. They also learn how to treat animals from their parents and family. When you teach a child that animals are beautiful beings that need our protection, you not only change the life of a child, but also of every animal that child encounters over a lifetime.
Volunteer Shelters need people to help, plain and simple. Most are publicly funded and just do not have the manpower needed to handle the large volume of animals they take in. You can walk dogs, clean cages and help prospective adopters. Every little bit helps when it comes to helping get homeless animals into permanent homes.
Speak Up Join animal organizations to help pass humane laws to help improve the lives of animals. Get vocal on Twitter and Facebook, join online groups and attend meetings in your area. When speaking with family and friends, let them know ways they can helps animals as well.
Keri Matthews, a mom of two, has worked in the ASPCA’s licensing department for more than five years. She lives on Long Island with her husband, Tom, her children, Gabriella and Tommy, and their Greyhound, Clyde.
Wearing Orange. Our family has committed to wearing orange every Saturday in support of the ASPCA‘s mission. This is an easy task for us to execute with younger kids.
Donating Supplies. We are also planning to donate some items to our local shelter, including towels, placemats for the kitties to rest on, plastic bags and baby wipes. Our daughter Gabriella is looking forward to dropping off these items to help the animals.
Visiting Our Local Shelter. We have started to talk to Gabriella about how families looking for pets should visit animal shelters to take a friend home. Our visit to our local shelter to drop off supply donations will be Gabriella’s first time at an animal shelter, but certainly not her last!
Today marks one of the most adorable, fur-filled holidays of the year: National Puppy Day! This is a great opportunity to not only celebrate our love for puppies, but to talk about important issues facing puppies nationwide. Here are a few ways to commemorate this special day:
Decide if your family is ready to bring home a puppy. If you’ve considered adding a puppy to your family, it’s important to consider the time commitment and responsibilities. Puppies require a lot of attention to ensure they grow up to be happy, confident dogs. Learn more about preparing for a puppy.
Talk to your kids about pet store puppies. While that puppy in the store window may adorable, purchasing a puppy from a pet shop supports the cruel puppy mill industry. These large-scale dog breeding facilities prioritize profit over the well-being of the dogs, cramming them into overcrowded, stacked cages. Even though the puppies may get to leave the mill, their parents are stuck there for years breeding more puppies in these terrible conditions. Use our handy guide for talking points as you chat with your kids about pet store puppies.
Are you worried you may have items in your home that are poisonous to your pet? As parents, we are reminded to baby- and kid-proof our homes, but it’s also necessary to pet-proof them. Each year, thousands of pets accidentally ingest common but dangerous household materials, and the culprits are often surprising: items including onions, grapes and garden mulch are offenders.
In honor of Poison Prevention Week, we’re holding a live Twitter chat with Dr. Tina Wismer, Medical Director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. Join us on Wednesday, March 18 from 2:00 to 3 P.M. EST as Dr. Wismer answers all your questions about protecting pets from harmful substances!
We’ll also test your pet poison knowledge with a few trivia questions. Three participants will receive ASPCA swag bags—and one grand-prize winner will receive an Emergency Ready Deluxe Pet First Aid Kit!