On World Animal Day, celebrate Cats, Dogs and Us
On World Animal Day, I’d like to take a moment to celebrate dogs and cats, the two most universal species who live side by side with people in every country and on every continent where human communities are found.
The program introduces young people ages 5-14 to the many very special qualities these very common animals have, and to the many different ways that people live with cats and dogs around the world.
Our education program takes the dual approach of directly engaging educators in 20+ countries worldwide. All the while advocating for education ministries and other high-level institutions to infuse animal welfare and conservation themes into core reading, writing, science, social studies and other required school curricula.
As the US Department of Education has suggested, these “simultaneous top-down/bottom-up strategies are essential” for lasting change.
To that end, IFAW’s youth education programs have recently been endorsed by the European Commission, UNESCO and the Convention on Biodiversity, and educational authorities in several regions, including the Ministry of Education for the United Arab Emirates and the Los Angeles Unified School district, which is the second largest educational district in the United States.
At the same we’re reaching more than 5,000,000 individual teachers and students worldwide each year through school curricula resources, youth engagement activities and special events.
IFAW’s other priority programs, from elephants to companion animals, are finding long-term success through the same bottom-up and top-down approaches.
For example, our humane community development team has been making great strides in working on the ground with communities struggling with dog and cat populations to understand their needs and approach the issue with sensitivity and respect.
By relating this work on the ground with political action and partnerships - most recently with the UN Development Programme and the Clinton Global Initiative - we have helped implement animal-friendly solutions that last and can be replicated the world over.
So, Happy World Animal Day, which also marks the birthday of Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals in the Catholic religion. To paraphrase St. Francis: start by doing what's necessary, then do what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.