Helping others learn to love animals

Published 9:45 pm Friday, August 12, 2011

I am a big proponent of children being taught how to care for animals. Being able to treat animals correctly starts with viewing animals with compassion and respect and develops a sense of responsibility for the well being of other living beings.

With all of the animal cruelty cases popping up recently, it’s hard not to see that there is a growing problem with the way animals are viewed by some Suffolkians. The shocking abuse of a kitten that made headlines this summer has been particularly resonant of what we might collectively be failing to instill in our children.

Full disclosure: I am not a parent. However, I do subscribe to the view that it takes a village to raise a child. If any of us has a chance to support programs to educate others on how to treat animals, we have a responsibility to take that opportunity.

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That’s where the Suffolk Humane Society comes in.

“We believe what we are doing is not just about animals but promoting compassion,” Kay Hurley, director of community outreach for the society, said during a recent interview.

The society meets this goal through a variety of educational programs, including a popular reading program that allows children to read to shelter dogs.

“We’re helping to make our community a better place to live and have a family,” Hurley said.

One can’t help but wonder if those who have acted out by harming animals would have thought twice if they had taken part in some of the educational programs the humane society now offers.

But the only way to reach all of Suffolk’s children is to expand their programs, a goal the society can only hit through fundraising.

That’s how we can all contribute to this city, by doing something we all do every day: taking a walk.

The Suffolk Humane Society’s annual Mutt Strut will take place Sunday, Sept. 18. But it’s not too late to participate in the walk.

“We need people to register to walk and raise money that way,” Hurley said. “I am hoping we can raise $50,000; we raised more than that last year. I’d love to see it be $75,000 or more but we’d be elated to raise $50,000.”

You’ll be rewarded for your time not only with the warm and fuzzy feeling of contributing to a good cause, but also with a chance to experience everything else the event has to offer.

Like a multitude of vendors offering information on everything you need to know about owning and caring for a pet and more.

But I’m most excited about the furry talent the society has booked this year.

There will be performances by the Flying Jacks, a stunt team comprised of Jack Russell terriers, and the Virginia Fox Trotters, a group of handlers and their dogs who perform dance routines.

There’s no reason not to get involved. Even if you are busy on Sunday, you can still help raise money by signing up to be a virtual walker.

“If you care about animals or care about someone who cares about animals, this is a chance to make a difference in the community,” says Hurley.

And who knows? Maybe, sometime soon, another child will choose to protect an animal when faced with the same choices that ended in one kitten’s recent death.