Britain has a long-held reputation as a nation of animal lovers.
On October 4th, people come together across the world to celebrate World Animal Day and to raise the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards around the globe.
Events are organised in every country and everyone can join in, whether they are part of an organisation, group, or an individual.
Celebrities that support the campaign include actress Stefanie Powers, author Jilly Cooper, model Twiggy, pop star Mel B and illusionist Uri Geller.
If you’ve ever shared your life with a pet, volunteered in an animal shelter or fed the wildlife in your garden, you’ll know there are many benefits to having animals in your life.
Here are some of them:
They ease loneliness
With over 9 million people in the UK admitting their are either always or often lonely, a pet will make sure you’re never alone. Most cats and dogs will happily snuggle on the sofa, listen to you talk without judgement and are always happy to see you.
They help you make friends
If you walk a dog regularly, you’ll soon get to meet people. In some areas there are dog walking parties or puppy parties so you get to socialise while your pet makes new friends too.
They keep you fit
If you walk or run with a dog twice a day, you’ll automatically be exceeding the current government guidelines of 150 minutes of exercise per week. But even cleaning out a rabbit hutch or playing with your cat will get you moving and gently stretching your muscles.
The relieve stress
Studies show that stroking a pet or even watching fish swim around a tank can lower blood pressure and stress levels. Ingrid Collins, a consultant psychologist at the London Medical Centre, says “A pet is better than Prozac. Animals have a completely different agenda to humans, and bring things back to basics. They want comfort, feeding and love. In return, they give huge affection.”
They might save your life
We’ve known about guide dogs for years, but there are numerous stories about cats who wake their owners when they detect a fire in the house and dogs who have sniffed out cancer or alerted their owners to an epileptic fit. There is even specific ‘medical detection‘ training for dogs now to enable them to help owners with complex health needs lead more independent lives.
Feeling inspired to give something back to all the wonderful animals in the world? Here are some ways you could get involved with World Animal Day:
Adopt a pet
If you’re 100% sure it’s for you, today would be the perfect day to adopt a new pet.
Sponsor an animal
Many wildlife organisations have sponsorship schemes for animals in their care, where, in exchange for your donation, you receive regular updates and photographs.
Organise a fundraiser such as a coffee morning, quiz night, sponsored walk, auction or car boot sale to raise funds for your favourite animal charity.
Join a local wildlife or conservation group
You might find yourself putting up bat boxes, building bird houses, carrying out a wildlife survey or creating a wildlife habitat.
Donate to an animal shelter
Add a few extra tins of dog food or cat food to your weekly shop and take them to a nearby shelter.
Make your garden more wildlife friendly
You could garden with butterflies in mind, feed garden birds, create a water feature or leave a log pile as an ‘insect hotel’.
If you don’t have your own dog, offer to help a neighbour or walk one from a local animal rescue shelter.
Take your dog to work
Organise a ‘take your dog to work day’ at the office or, if you have a placid pet, offer them as a therapy pet to an old people’s home.
Animal shelters need help with maintenance, feeding, walking and cleaning – and you get lots of free cuddles with the animals!
What have I missed – how have animals enriched your life?