World Pet Memorial Day 2011

Each year in the second week of June, pet owners and advocates around the world take time to remember their furry, feathered and finned friends that have died.

Losing a pet is a painful event. World Pet Memorial Day, observed on June 12 this year, is designated to honor, remember and celebrate the much-loved animal companions who have passed on. This is a day when people who have lost a pet can pay their respects to their departed friends and remember the times once shared together.

Not so long ago, dogs and cats were mostly kept for practical purposes. They served as hunting assistants, security and pest control. Even when they had the dual role as family pet, they were kept outside and only the luckiest had access to the shelter of outbuildings or dog houses. They were fed whatever leftover food was available and veterinary care was minimal, if they received it at all.

Things have changed. Today, pets in the United States are valued differently. Most companion animals are sheltered in homes, eat food specially designed for them and receive regular veterinary care. Some owners will spend thousands of dollars to treat a family pet for a life-threatening illness. Some dogs even go to day care.

Having a pet adds joy to a household. A bond develops as time unfolds. Some people even consider their animal companions to be part of the family. But the price to pay for a pet’s unconditional love is their relatively short life spans. In the case of most animals, humans outlive their pets by many years.

The loss of a pet is as real as any other. Though not everyone considers them to be family members, most at least consider them to be friends or companions, making their loss a significant event. Though they will be missed, they will be remembered fondly for the rest of our lives.

World Pet Memorial Day is a day of remembrance. Individuals and families can hold a memorial in honor of a lost pet. Minneapolis residents can participate in the World Pet Memorial Day by donating money, food and pet supplies to the Pet Project, which is collecting those items to assist victims of the tornado that hit the Twin Cities in May. People who have lost a pet but think they are ready to adopt another, there are many deserving animals available in local shelters, including the Animal Humane Society shelter, the Minneapolis Care & Control facility or any of the many pet rescues in the area.