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This week is American Humanes Be Kind to Animals week, an event that’s been celebrated every year since 1915. In this annual tradition, American Humane asks all animal lovers to commemorate the role animals play in our lives, promote ways to continue to treat them humanely, and encourage others, especially children, to do the same.

While Be Kind to Animals Week is celebrated only once a year, there are ways people can be kind to animals every day. Heres how:

Speak out for animals
Get informed about policies and legislation that can impact the animals in your community and throughout the country. Also, register to receive Action Alerts from American Humane — youll be able to speak out for animals with just the click of a mouse. Advocacy for animals can make a huge difference in their safety and well-being. Occasionally on The Cat’s Meow, I post stories about animal cruelty cases in which YOU can make a difference … by contacting judges and public officials urging the imposition of the stiffest possible sentence under the law, or by expressing your outrage when the defendants receive slap-on-the-wrist sentences. Taking a couple of minutes to contact public officials can go a long way toward ensuring there is always a zero-tolerance policy in animal cruelty cases. Learn how.

Report animal abuse
Animal cruelty and abuse is not only tragic for animals, but also an indicator that other forms of abuse such as domestic violence could be happening. If you see something that looks suspicious — a dog chained in your neighbors yard that looks underfed, a child putting a cat in a box and kicking it around the yard — dont hesitate. Let someone know. Learn how.

Appreciate wildlife
All animals deserve to be treated humanly — family pets and animals in the wild. Create an inviting space in your yard and garden for butterflies, hummingbirds and other creatures. If wildlife comes too close to home, look for ways to coexist with animals or to protect your property humanely. Learn how.

Adopt a pet from a shelter or rescue
Every year, an estimated 3.7 million animals must be euthanized at our nations shelters because they could not be adopted into loving homes. Help animals find a second chance at happiness by adopting your next pet from your local shelter or rescue group. American Humane has tips to find the animal companion thats right for you and develop a bond that will last a lifetime. Learn how.


Take care of your pet

Pets are like children who never grow up. They need you to help keep them healthy and safe throughout their lives. Keep your animals vaccinations up-to-date. Make sure hes wearing proper identification. Take your pet to the veterinarian regularly. Know what it takes to be a responsible pet owner. Learn how.

[PHOTO: Monica Plumb, 11, of Powhatan, Va., runner up in American Humanes 2009 Be Kind to Animals Kid Contest]