World Animal Day, founded in 1931 to draw attention to endangered species, falls each year on October 4. To celebrate the day and bring awareness to the holiday, people worldwide were asked to post animal selfies on Twitter this past Sunday. You can check out the fun and inspiring pics here, at World Animal Day’s Twitter account.
Though I still feel like a Twitter newbie, I’m finding myself on the social media site more now than ever before. Here I can connect with like-minded animal people and follow news and trends related to helping the world’s animals every single day (and not just on World Animal Day). Here are 10 of the best Twitter accounts for animal lovers. Follow them and get ready for a daily dose of inspiration, action and sometimes even adorable animal photos:
The words we choose to use send powerful messages out into this world. The words we choose to use when discussing animals are no different. Subconscious associations and assumptions are made in split seconds, based on words spoken and written. And the language the world at large uses when talking about animals is often maligning.
Some say the terminology regarding animals doesn’t matter, and that the accepted terms should remain just that. But when you see how heated the issue can become—then you see that yes, indeed, it does matter. Here are five common animal terms used in our society that really ruffle my feathers:
ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVIST
Use instead: animal welfare activist
Though the terms “animal rights” and “animal welfare” are not exactly interchangeable, the influential Associated Press came out earlier this year with this change to its Stylebook, the go-to guide journalists refer to when writing articles. I prefer “animal welfare” to “animal rights” and like this change for many reasons: For one, because “animal rights,” in our society, has developed such a negative connotation to it, painting compassionate individuals involved in the humane movement as extremists. And two, because “animal welfare” is a broader, generic term that isn’t emotionally loaded. Bravo, AP—and hopefully more of the population will come around to using “welfare” instead of “rights,” too.
Use instead: animal or companion animal
The vocabulary we use is so often derogatory to animals, diminishing that special relationship we share with our cat, dog, horse or other. “Pet” is a perfect example of this. The word communicates the old-school view (that is still commonly held, unfortunately) that animals are lesser creatures, and simply property to be owned. I find “animal” or “companion animal” to be more dignified. My animals are not just family—they are sentient beings, too, and they deserve better. The Journal of Animal Ethics agrees: In 2011, the publication released a fascinating and controversial article discussing this very idea—that we should be careful in the language we use to describe animals. (If only “companion animal” were a little less clunky-sounding.)
Use instead: caregiver
Related to “pet” above, the term “owner” communicates the idea that animals are merely pets or property—not the special beings that we are fully committed to caring for and loving. Additionally, I prefer “caregiver” over terms such as “guardian” because it clearly conveys the emotional component of our relationship (vs. describing it in a cold and legal-sounding way).
Use instead: he or she
Let’s be honest, our special dog or cat—even if neutered or spayed—is not an “it.” Yet so many animals are referred to as “it.” In the first scientific paper she ever wrote, Jane Goodall used “he” and “she” instead of “it” to describe the chimpanzees—to much backlash. Kudos to Goodall for refusing to buckle under pressure and change, and also for promoting the groundbreaking idea that animals are emotional creatures worthy of our empathy and respect.
Use instead: lost
When homeless animals need adoption, which word makes them sound more adoptable, “stray” or “lost”? Exactly. Calling animals strays conjures up images of beastly creatures with matted fur that no one wants. But change the word to “lost”—now you create a new, positive image of a loved animal needing a new home. Or an animal who has lost his home, and needs help finding his way back. For tips on how to reunite lost animals with their human caregivers, check out the Missing Pet Partnership.
What about you? Do you feel comfortable calling your animal a pet? Why or why not? What other animal terms do you think need updating?
I absolutely love it when celebrities speak out about animal rights and causes; their fame allows them to bring crucial attention to important issues. It would be amazing to meet each of the following famous actors (and one supermodel, one hip-hop mogul and one singer/songwriter) and thank them personally for supporting the animals of this planet. To brighten your day (and warm your heart), here are some inspiring quotes about animals from our favorite celebrities:
“The only creatures that are evolved enough to convey pure love are dogs and infants.” —Johnny Depp
“You can always tell about somebody by the way they put their hands on an animal.” —Betty White
I’m not really big on New Year’s resolutions, but I appreciate this idea of letting your animals guide you toward healthier, happier living. What better time than in January, when we’re all ready for a fresh start?
Here are five ways our beloved animal companions (especially dogs) can help us achieve our goals in 2015:
1. Live healthy every day: Walking your dog every single day (or even twice a day!) is an easy and fun way to add aerobic fitness to your routine without even realizing it. (Those of you with dogs know what I mean.) And if you’ve always wanted a dog but haven’t yet adopted one, a loyal and enthusiastic (albeit furry) walking partner could be just the motivational boost you’re looking for. In fact, according to the University of Western Australia, new dog owners walked an additional 48 minutes per week. For more on the amazing health benefits of walking your dog, check out this article.
2. Widen your social circle: Take your dog for regular walks around your neighborhood, and suddenly you meet neighbors you haven’t seen before. Take her to play on the beach or at a dog park, and you just might make new friends (and your dog can have a playdate, too). Let him join you when you travel, and you’ll discover dog-friendly gems like Carmel or Laguna Beach, California, which welcome leashed dogs in many hotels, stores and even some restaurants (on the patio).
3. Try new things: Whether it’s walking a new trail in the redwoods, biking, camping or even trying a fun water sport like kayaking or boating, most dogs are always up for adventure! Both of you will get to experience something new, and that alone can be super rejuvenating.
4. Advocate for animals: Sometimes it can be hard to find your voice or the time to really “live for” the causes and issues you believe in. Let your love for animals inspire you. If you witness cats, horses, dogs or other helpless creatures being neglected or mistreated (like stuck inside a hot car or in other terrible conditions), let the authorities know. If a specific area of concern interests you, such as the plight of feral cats or hoarding, find a local organization supporting that cause and see if their volunteer program is a good fit. You could even start a blog, use social media and fundraise to spread the word about the animal welfare issues you’re passionate about.
5. Give back a little bit more: You don’t need a lot of extra money to give back in small ways. “Shop for a Cause” programs like AmazonSmile, GoodSearch, iGive and Living Zoe let you shop for things you would buy anyway; they donate a percentage of the purchase back to the charity of your choice. Not sure which charity to choose? My favorite would have to be … the Shelter Animal Rescue Association, or SARA, which I founded with Leah D’Ambrosio to support animal Reiki programs at shelters and sanctuaries worldwide. You can find us on AmazonSmile, iGive and Living Zoe.
What are your New Year’s resolutions?