New York Assemblymember Encourages Students to “Be Kind to Animals”
New York State Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal celebrates "Be Kind to Animals" month with schoolchildren.
Though all animals should be treated kindly, not every pet and wild critter has the good fortune of receiving compassion from owners and strangers alike.
New York animals now, though, have an entire month honoring their rights and well-being, thanks to New York State Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, who recently passed an act declaring May “Be Kind to Animals” month.
The “champion” of animal rights in New York, as Elinor Molbegott of the Humane Society of New York described Rosenthal, has passed more bills than any other New York legislator benefiting animals. This latest act serves as a way to publicly recognize the importance of being kind to animals – not just during one allotted month, but every single day. It also offered an opportunity to involve young New York City students, and educate them about humane treatment of animals, Rosenthal said.
She spoke to Zootoo Pet News at an Upper West Side community center, where she awarded seven students for their drawings depicting ways in which people can be kind to animals in their own habitats.
Rosenthal – who represents Manhattan’s Upper West Side and parts of Hell’s Kitchen – received hundreds of submissions from local schools, she said, after the contest was announced last month.
“In honor of this month, I really wanted to try and get the children involved, and help them learn more about being kind to animals,” the Assemblymember explained. “Sure, they are cute on the street, but actually some animals aren’t well taken care of and a lot of animals need homes, too.”
“We thought this would be a fun way to get students involved, to teach the kids a lesson about this, but also doing so while they had fun.”
The students’ pride in their awards and work was palpable as they marched smiling, one-by-one, onto the stage and accepted their certificates from Rosenthal. In the foreground on the stage sat representatives from the Humane Society of New York and shelter dogs that greeted the students. Some of the dogs, the students learned, wound up in shelters because they were not treated well in their previous homes.
The students seemed to soak the knowledge up solemnly, and then didn’t shy away from approaching the dogs after the award ceremony. The winning students also stood by proudly in front of their artwork, which will now be hung in Rosenthal’s office.
One student, Summar Lowe, 7, earned a certificate for her clear drawing of a bumble bee sitting on a flower, on a bright, sunny day.
Lowe said she drew the picture because she likes honey, and bees as well – but the picture also has a lesson, she explained.
“If you bother bees, they will hurt you, but if you leave them alone, they won’t bother you, either,” she said.
Rosenthal said that in the years to come she hopes to expand the activities surrounding “Be Kind to Animals” month, but to continue to appeal to young populations with fun approaches to humane education.
She will also continue to wage forward on the animal welfare and cruelty-related bills she is presently pushing. One bill would establish a database of people who have been convicted of animal cruelty, so when people try to adopt from a city shelter, for instance, shelter workers would be able to find out background information on this prospective owner. Other states have already adopted comparable bills into law.
She is also trying to pass a bill that would help students and their parents recognize that animal dissection in schools is not mandatory.
“The bill would make the town education board, or the local education authority, post on their Web site that students do not have to participate in dissection,” explained Rosenthal, who has one cat, Olivia, she adopted from the ASPCA. “There could be a lot of bullying and name-calling if kids don’t want to dissect animals, but it is their absolute legal right to refuse – they just don’t know it.”
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