October is a very busy month with several huge observances set on the national calendar at this time each year. There is Breast Cancer Awareness Month; Education Month; Psychiatric Week; World Mental Health Day and Caribbean Week of Agriculture, for instance. There is also National Animal Week, which concluded last Sunday with an education campaign at the Barbados Kennel Club.
The latter observance, which was first undertaken five years ago, focused this year on “Pet Safety During Disasters” and sought to highlight the importance of ensuring that the public make planning for their pets an integral part of their overall disaster response. Though this may sound like a low priority, for many people pets are considered as close as their human family members and their care can rate high as a result. Therefore, planning for their safety can reduce risk to both them and yourself in the event a disaster strikes, as last-minute actions could prove fatal.
Apart from this focus though, National Animal Week also acknowledges the diverse roles that animals play in our lives; from being our companions, supporting and helping us, to bringing a sense of wonder into our lives. As such, everyone should acknowledge and be thankful for the way in which animals enrich our lives.
As pointed out on one occasion, while in Barbados there is a strong opposition to horrendous examples of cruelty to animals, neglect and disinterest are still too widespread and more thought needs to be given to our relationship with animals. There needs to be more of a celebration of animal life.
The most common example of this relationship can be seen with household pets, which are usually cats and dogs – although they can include a variety of exotic species, including birds. Far too many pet owners believe that after obtaining a pet, their responsibility starts and ends with feeding and grooming. This is far from true. Correct shelter must also be provided. Dogs for instance should not be exposed to the elements, but should have kennels. They should also have enough room to run freely on occasion. Many times we see dogs tied in yards indefinitely, with the misguided impression that this makes them fiercer guard dogs, or the animals are left to roam neighbourhoods at a whim, proving a danger to passers-by.
While smaller cats may be tied indoors, older felines are often left to their own devices to wonder at will. Unfortunately, this frequently results in the death of the animal when they end up under the wheels of vehicles on the roads.
To this end, the reiterated call for pet owners to spay and neuter their dogs and cats should be heeded. This drive picked up momentum over the years thanks to the star power of world renowned record producer Simon Cowell, who campaigned with one local organisation at one time to increase the
number of animals undergoing these procedures.