I recently wrote about random acts of kindness—which got me thinking, what about random acts of kindness toward the animals of this world, specifically? Here are 10 easy and inspiring ways we can all be kind to the beautiful creatures sharing our world. Remember, kindness is contagious, so pass it on …
1. Choose cruelty-free products. Each year, 100,000-200,000 animals around the world suffer and die in laboratories due to cosmetics testing. Choosing to spend your hard-earned dollars on products from compassionate companies is one small act of kindness we can all do to support the rats, bunnies and guinea pigs commonly used in testing. Use PETA’s search function on its website to determine if the products you use are animal-friendly or not and find alternatives. (LUSH, a cruelty-free business with amazing beauty products, is a favorite of mine!)
2. Foster a dog or cat from your local shelter. If adoption is too much of a commitment at this time, fostering may be for you! Fostering lets you help your local shelter in many ways: by freeing up space for another homeless animal; by learning the animal’s personality so he or she can find the perfect forever home; by providing the critical social skills many cats and dogs need in order to be adopted. If fostering isn’t a good fit for you right now, you can still show kindness by donating supplies and offering Reiki treatments to help the animals in the shelter’s care.
3. “Adopt” an animal shelter worker. Granted, this one isn’t helping an animal specifically—but it is an indirect way to show kindness to animals. I’ve written about the serious problem of compassion fatigue before. Shelter workers have tough jobs, and they’re on the front lines helping animals in all sorts of difficult and often emotionally wrenching situations. Showing gratitude and random acts of kindness and even pampering the workers at your local shelter can give them a little boost of happiness in their day. If you provide a service in your full-time job (like haircuts, nails, massages), offer a freebie. Or drop off a small Starbucks gift card, a batch of homemade cookies or a handwritten card saying “thank you for all you do.”
4. Help feral cats. The simplest way to show kindness to feral cats is to donate to a spay/neuter program in your area. But if you’re handy and inspired to take it up a notch (and if you live in a rural area with a lot of ferals), you can provide food, water and even build them a shelter. This article shows you how.
5. Help a lost dog find his way home. I have a feeling you, my dear readers, do this at every opportunity! But it’s helpful to keep in mind, especially with the Fourth of July holiday coming up: More dogs and cats run away from home on this day than any other day of the year. Lost dogs usually have tags; if you can, corral them in your yard to keep them safe from cars and call the owner. Or if you recognize your neighbor’s animal walking far from home where it shouldn’t be, notify them immediately.
6. Spoil your dog or cat with homemade treats. This is just a fun way to show them how much we love them. Here are a few favorite recipes.
7. Stop going to SeaWorld this summer. (Actually, stop going to SeaWorld altogether.) When we teach our kids or nieces and nephews about the realities of SeaWorld, they won’t want to go either. You can also write a letter to SeaWorld’s parent company stressing the importance of kindness to animals—and demanding that they stop exploiting marine mammals.
8. Do what you can to preserve the sea. All sea creatures are special, but I especially love dolphins. We can show kindness to dolphins and other sea animals by keeping the oceans safe and clean: by not littering our beaches and oceans; by recycling and disposing of toxins safely; by using safe dish detergents (check out the brands sold by Whole Foods); and by using paper instead of Styrofoam.
9. Run a 5K that benefits animals. Check out your local Humane Society or other nonprofit for a fur-friendly 5K walk/run. The money raised helps homeless animals in multiple ways: food, shelter, vet care, spay/neuter programs and more. And the event itself is a way to share the value of kindness to animals with children and the community at large.
10. Leave wild animals in their natural homes. Adults usually know better, but children have a natural curiosity. If they want to bring a snail home in a jar, use the request as an opportunity to teach them about natural habitats and kindness. The same goes for lizards, hermit crabs, caterpillars and so on. If they want to catch a firefly in a jar this summer, go ahead and let them. Setting the fireflies free after a few minutes of careful observation is a fun way to encourage their love of the natural world in a kind way.
Do you know of any other fun and creative ways we can show kindness to animals?