Reviewed for accuracy on April 22, 2019, by Dr. Katie Grzyb, DVM
Even though it’s always the right time to fight animal cruelty, April has been officially designated as Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month.
Every year, organizations around the country celebrate the month by launching special campaigns, reaching out to animal lovers and working to raise awareness about important issues regarding animal welfare.
Here’s how it came about and what you can do not just in April, but on an ongoing basis to stop animal cruelty.
Where It All Started
“Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month honors the founding of the ASPCA in April 1866 and provides a great opportunity to communicate our mission, educate the public and spur action on behalf of vulnerable and victimized animals across the country,” says Randall Lockwood, PhD, senior vice president of Anti-Cruelty Special Projects at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
While animal organizations fight year-round to stop animal cruelty, they also use the month of April to call attention to their fight and bring awareness about specific causes of animal abuse. Organizations that work on legislation also push particularly hard to pass special laws in the month of April.
For example, In Defense of Animals (IDA), which has been fighting for animal rights for 36 years, had some major victories in April 2018. “In just the past year, we have passed some major victories for animals during Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month,” says Fleur Dawes, communications director at IDA.
“Last year, In Defense of Animals worked with local animal activists to silence hunters’ guns to stop a crow shoot massacre in Vermont and also collaborated with local activists to end 73 years of turkey throwing cruelty at a festival in Arkansas,” says Dawes.
Stopping Animal Cruelty Through Awareness Days
During the month of April, the ASPCA recognizes several days intended to bring awareness to animal cruelty. You can join in month-long activities but also take part in specific issues.
“As part of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month in April, the ASPCA designates April 8 as National Dog Fighting Awareness Day to raise awareness of dog fighting and encourage animal lovers to take action,” says Lockwood.
April 26 is ASPCA Help a Horse Day, where the organization focuses on equine rescues and helping horses who have been abused, abandoned or neglected.
IDA focuses its April work on campaigns to pass stronger laws against animal cruelty. “This year, In Defense of Animals will be asking members of the public to volunteer to help animals, especially during Volunteer Week (April 7-13) and celebrating National Animal Control Appreciation Week (April 14-20), during which we plan to give awards to animal control officers who have made a notable positive impact for preventing cruelty to animals,” says Dawes.
On April 24—World Day for Animals in Laboratories—Dawes says IDA also encourages all members of the public to peacefully demonstrate for animals. You can join an event in your nearest major city or organize one on behalf of animals suffering in experiments.
Small Everyday Things You Can Do to Help
While there are many things that can be done to help animals, the most important part is to never pass by an animal in need, says Audrey Harvey, campaigns manager for Last Chance for Animals (LCA). “If you see an animal [who is] injured or in distress, contact your local animal control, local animal shelters or law enforcement for assistance,” she says.
“Another great way to help animals is to volunteer in your local animal shelter or donate used dog/cat beds, toys, food and water bowls, and food to animal shelters in need,” says Harvey. Make sure the items are clean and gently used.
If you already donate money to an organization, talk to your company’s HR department. “Many companies have a corporate matching program that will double or triple your impact, and some will even make cash donations based on your volunteer hours,” says Miriam Davenport, spcaLA vice president. “Ask your personnel office if your company has a matching gift program.”
Finally, always follow your favorite organization on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. This is where organizations regularly post calls for volunteers, suggestions and campaigns they need help with.
“Be sure to share posts and tag your friends to help spread awareness of animal cruelty and how to prevent it,” says Harvey, who also recommends subscribing to LCA’s email alerts page to keep up to date with local events you can participate in.
How to Get More Involved
Ready to take things a step further? You can get involved in local campaigns or start your own fight to prevent animal abuse.
“Advocates can also use their voice online to share the importance of the fight to end animal cruelty and sign up for our Advocacy Brigade,” says Lockwood. “Joining the advocacy brigade brings many benefits, including receiving emails tailored just for you when we need help in your state as well as exclusive invitations to local events and online advocacy tutorials.”
There are also always opportunities to volunteer in your local area, so reach out to your favorite animal protection organization to see if they have a particular need you can help fulfill.
“We always need people to document the poor conditions of animals in your local zoo, circus or aquarium,” says Dawes. “No special equipment or expertise needed—just sign up to volunteer, then send us your photos and video from your camera or phone!”
You can also start your own fundraising campaign—and while you don’t need a reason to start one, birthday fundraisers where the money is donated to an organization of your choice are particularly popular.
“Ask friends and family to help you celebrate a birthday, milestone or just a Tuesday by raising funds for abandoned and abused animals,” says Davenport. You can start a fundraiser on many social platforms.
By: Diana Bocco
Feature Image: iStock.com/Arkadova