Have you thanked your pet today?

Animals bring so much joy to our lives that it’s so important to take some time to celebrate them, and to say thank you! During Be Kind to Animals Week, the first week in May (May 2 through the 7), we hope you’ll join us here at the Museum & Theatre to learn more about how to be kind to our animal friends. I’ve arranged a week of extra visits by live animals and humane educators who can teach you how to understand the subtle messages pets and wild animals send us. This event was inspired by conversations with humane educator Lona Ham of the Animal Welfare Society and humane educator Kathleen Fobear of the Animal Refuge League (check out the Linkage Project to learn more). 

“If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” 

~Sirius Black in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Although “inferior” is not the word I’d personally choose to describe any kind of animal (insects, for example, are vastly more abundant and arguably more powerful than humans), this is one of my favorite quotes from a very quotable series of books. What Sirus is trying to say is that a good man will treat those who are voiceless, targeted, or lacking some sort of power, with just as much kindness and respect as he treats somebody he hopes will help him. “Voiceless” is often the word used to describe pets and very young children just learning to communicate with words. I’m much more likely to trust a woman who’s kind to earthworms, hamsters, or puppies than one who will brush aside or even hurt a creature that’s smaller or slower than she is. This doesn’t mean I don’t swat mosquitoes… that’s self-defense, after all. It does mean that I pay a lot of attention to how people, both kids and adults, treat the animals in their lives.

Animals have messages to send us, and our awesome community partners can help you learn how to decode them. We are so lucky to have regular visitors from the Animal Refuge League (ARL) and the Animal Welfare Society (AWS). Their programs are a great way to introduce young child to furry (or sometimes scaly!) pets. The ARL and AWS have moved their visits to earlier in the month to coincide with Be Kind to Animals Week, but usually they visit on the third Thursday and Saturday of each month, respectively (check out our calendar for upcoming visits from ARL and AWS). Our ongoing schedule includes regular programs featuring Maine’s own David Sparks, who helps many families relocate skunks, bats, flying squirrels or other creatures who take up residence in their homes. During vacation weeks and occasionally throughout the year, David comes for a Sparks Ark Special Show – your ticket ($2 for members) guarantees a seat and helps cover the cost of this awesome show. Be Kind to Animals Week will feature David’s other program, Animal Friends with David Sparks, which allows for an up-close and personal visit with a single animal. (Last time we met two adorable baby pygymy goats!). 

A big thank you goes out to Kathleen Fobear of the Animal Refuge League of Westbrook for joining us for extra visits during this special week! Join us for How to Hear Your Pet “Talk” on Thursday with the Animal Refuge League and Saturday with the Animal Welfare Society. Or you can help make toys for pets at the Animal Refuge League’s shelter (and meet a real, live pet too!) on Tuesday during Animal Fun. During Be Kind to Animals Week you’re also invited to bring in a picture or photo of your pet or a wild animal you love, and attach it to a thank you letter you can write while you’re here! We’ll choose some of these letters to get post in the Vet Clinic exhibit. On Friday and Saturday you can make a sweet sticky bird feeder to take home and hang up to attract wild animal friends a treat. And don’t forget to sign up for Animal Yoga with Jamie if you’re here Tuesday morning! 

Visit the Calendar of Events for a complete list of our Be Kind to Animals Week programming.

For more information about our partners and presenters, visit them on the web:

American Humane Association

Animal Welfare Society

Animal Refuge League

Sparks Ark