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This year's National Pet Week theme, "Pets Make the Difference" is certainly true for the artist of the 2003 poster, Michael Jurogue Johnson, a gifted contemporary artist born with Down syndrome.
Johnson began painting full time at age 21. With no formal training, he started slowly and carefully capturing the flowers, gardens, and animals that surround his neighborhood in Evanston, Ill.
"With just a few brush strokes, Michael is able to capture the spirit and express the boundless joy that pets bring into our lives," said Jan Knewston, president of the Auxiliary to the AVMA, which is sponsoring National Pet Week, May 4-10.
"Innocence and joy shine through his paintings and beautifully illustrate the difference that pets do make in all our lives."
Over the years, National Pet Week has enlightened the public about the importance of responsible pet ownership and the vital role of veterinarians in the human-animal bond.
"Each year brings a new challenge for our Auxiliary," said Maureen Wilson, vice president for public relations. "In 1981, with no funds budgeted and no materials produced for its promotion, National Pet Week was advertised in the Auxiliary News with a list of projects and ideas for participation. That humble beginning has expanded into the nationwide event we now celebrate."
Communities around the country host veterinary clinic open houses, community education programs, and in-school promotions for National Pet Week each year. The result has been major national, regional, and local media coverage. On many occasions, the message has expanded to embrace the veterinarian's role in education, research, and public health.
The Auxiliary has banners, balloons, bookmarks, brochures, magnets, pencils, stickers, and T-shirts (see order form, page 21 of the print version of JAVMA) to make participation in pet week simple and fun. "It is as easy as ever for veterinarians to get involved in National Pet Week promotion," Wilson said. "We need each veterinarian to participate and make this the best event ever."
Orders can be placed by phone to the Auxiliary, (800) 738-9335; fax, (620) 365-7551; or online, www.avmaaux.org; or by mailing the order form to the Auxiliary to the AVMA Business Office, 110 E. Madison, Iola, KS 66749.
"This special week is an opportunity to again remind clients of proper health care for their animals," Knewston noted. "The Auxiliary's National Pet Week products are not only educational but some are give-away reminders to enhance veterinary clinic visits. National Pet Week is just another opportunity for the Auxiliary to the AVMA to promote the profession of veterinary medicine."