Celebrate the year 2000 and the 20th anniversary of National Pet Week this May 7-13. The National Pet Week theme, "Friends For Life," embraces the evolution of the pet from work- horse and yard dog to valued member of the 21st-century family.
Whether Goldie the classroom goldfish eased yours or your child's transition from home into an academic environment, Charlie, the cuddly mixed-breed dog listened without judgment when you failed a test, or Mia the generally cool cat wouldn't leave your side the week you were recovering from the flu, they are all "Friends for Life."
This year's theme is one all veterinarians can expand on to create meaningful events for their communities. "Friends For Life" is a wonderful opportunity to sponsor essay, photo, and poster contests.
The 2000 National Pet Week Planning Guide, inserted in this issue of JAVMA, has ideas and supplemental materials veterinarians can adapt for their use.
Creative veterinarians throughout the country have garnered much public and media attention in recent years with their special National Pet Week programs.
Dr. Deborah A. Kemmer, West End Animal Hospital, Newberry, Fla, and clinic technicians Sarah Tingle and Jeanine Pesce educated their community about proper pet care during the National Pet Week celebration at the Oaks Mall in Gainesville. Their special emphasis was proper care of pet ferrets.
"The technicians took a ferret who had a classic adrenal disease hair loss to demonstrate the appearance of this disease," Dr. Kemmer said. "Many ferret owners are not knowledgeable about this disease and tend to dismiss hair loss as allergy or old age related. We received positive response and lots of questions about adrenal disease, heartworms and much more. We intend to expand the program a bit this year."
Las Cruces, NM, experienced its first-ever "Paws in the Park" organized by Janet Miller, wife of Dr. Rick Miller of Ark Animal Hospital, PC, in Alamogordo, NM.
"This was our first attempt at a community-wide project," Mrs. Miller said. "The program was sponsored by the Dog Obedience Club of Las Cruces Inc, and we reserved a beautiful park with covered areas and a lake for a day. Animal organizations, businesses, and nonprofit organizations set up booths to promote their organizations. There was an `Ask the Vet' booth featuring local veterinarians answering pet owners' questions."
AVMA president, Dr. Leonard F. Seda, said, "Whether a church sponsors a blessing of the pets or a veterinary clinic sponsors a pet adoption festival, CPR training classes, an open house, or even a more whimsical event such as a doggie/owner look-a-like contest, it is clear we consider our pets `Friends for Life.'
"The interest in pets and their welfare has grown phenomenally in the 20 years since National Pet Week's creation. I think people relish the opportunity to share with others what their pets have meant to them."
Auxiliary President Pat Anderson agrees. "National Pet Week came into being to draw attention to the importance of the relationship between pets and their owners and the part the veterinarian plays in that relationship. Now, 20 years later, National Pet Week expands that relationship to the current concept of the human-animal bond."
Human-animal bond stories during National Pet Week have become a favorite of the press.
In 1999, newspaper and magazine articles about pet week reached more than 8.6 million readers, and 14 television stations across the country reported developing local stories which aired to an audience of nearly one million viewers.
A compact disc featuring eight, 60-second veterinarian interviews, a public service announcement, and a series of 10-second pet facts, news actualities, and special two-minute features were aired 7,641 times by 186 stations for a total of more than 11 million audience impressions.
A video news release detailing the work of service dogs and a television public service announcement on animal summer safety were distributed in connection with National Pet Week. The video and PSA was broadcast more than 3,000 times on a hundred stations to an estimated Nielsen audience of 42 million viewers.
"While the interest in National Pet Week has become extremely broad-based," Mrs. Anderson said, "the mainstay of the program is still the veterinarian, Auxiliary member, technician, and staff promoting the importance of veterinary medicine."