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International Animal Rights Day 2023: When & How Is Celebrated

Our cats deserve the right to a loving home that provides for them every day. However, on International Animal Rights Day, the focus expands beyond the paws within our four walls to the creatures around the world, foreign and domestic. International Animal Rights Day is recognized every year on December 10th—a date that also hosts Human Rights Day. This was an intentional decision made by the founders of International Rights Day to drive home the point that animals should be treated with the respect that humans expect for themselves.

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What Is International Animal Rights Day?

The history of International Animal Rights Day actually starts with human activism. Shortly following World War II, the United Nations formed a Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Similar to the U.S. Declaration of Independence, this international agreement acknowledged that every person has the right to basic liberties such as life, freedom of religion, and to marry who they choose.

All of these rights belong to every person regardless of race, gender, or other personal parameters.

cat and dog walking
Image Credit: Piqsels

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed on December 10, 1948. Since then, every December 10th is commemorated as Human Rights Day.

It’s hard to tell exactly when animal activism began. Some would say it began with Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, while others say that Richard Ryer’s invention of the “speciesism” phrase hits the mark. Regardless, an animal activism group called Uncaged finally commemorated International Animal Rights Day on December 10, 1998—intentionally 50 years after the signing of the UDHR.

What Does International Animal Rights Day Stand For?

International Animal Rights Day doesn’t just call for animal wellness and better living standards. Instead, it takes things a step further. International Animal Rights Day declares that no animal should be used for food, clothing, or entertainment. Supporters believe that animals have the same rights as humans do and are not meant to be owned in any capacity.

Several manifestos have surfaced about animal rights, including the Declaration of Animal Rights made by PETA and the International Declaration of Animal Rights that was signed at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris in 1978. There are some gray areas, and some are tougher than others depending on the stance of the declaration and the organization that founded them.

Savannah Cat hugging a dog
Image Credit: AJR_photo, Shutterstock

For example, some declarations question whether pet ownership is ethical since some people believe that animals shouldn’t be owned. Animal rights groups such as PETA take the stance that in a perfect world there wouldn’t be pets because every animal would be fully autonomous. However, most animal activism organizations—including PETA—concede that the domestication of cats (and dogs) makes it virtually impossible for them to survive on their own, so loving people should look after them as best they can. However, such organizations also advocate for indoor-only cats and species-wide spay/neuter procedures, which definitely strip cats of the autonomy they’re seeking in similar manifestos.

Some animal rights declarations advocate for a total ban on the use of animals for meat, while others call for a painless death at the slaughterhouse. Typically, animal rights organizations advocate for a totally vegan lifestyle, while animal wellness groups campaign for humane ways to kill or euthanize animals without the use of torture and overcrowded slaughterhouses.

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How to Observe International Animal Rights Day

So, you’ve read some of the treatises and you’re on board to celebrate however you believe is best to support the rights of animals.

1. Educate yourself

Read up on the history of International Animal Rights Day and other similar movements. Maybe your studies will lead you to an animal you didn’t know existed. Research more about their trials and how humans can help.

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2. “Adopt” or sponsor an animal

If you can, rescue a cat from a shelter or serve as a volunteer. You can also virtually adopt or sponsor an animal online through organizations like the World Wildlife Fund.

woman adopting a cat
Image Credit: Andriy Blokhin, Shutterstock
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3. Go through your bathroom cabinet

Many cosmetics and cleaning products are tested on animals. Look for the rabbit symbol or words like “cruelty free” to see if the material goods you use everyday support animal activism. If not, do some research to find out what companies support your conscience.

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4. Talk about it

Find out if your community is having any events observing International Animal Rights Day. If not, consider becoming the catalyst to start a movement in your neighborhood.

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5. Post on social media

Spark conversations about animal activism using #internationalanimalrightsday.

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Mark Your Calendar: More Holidays Dedicated to Animal Awareness

December 10th isn’t the only time animal lovers come together to raise awareness.

Some other dates to observe include:
  • National Wildlife Day (February 22)
  • World Wildlife Day (March 3)
  • Animal Cruelty Awareness Week (third week in April)
  • ASPCA Day (April 10)
  • National Animal Advocacy Day (April 30)
  • Animal Rights Awareness Week (mid-June)
  • World Day Against Speciesism (June 5)
  • The National Animal Rights Day (first Sunday in June)
  • World Animal Day (October 4)
  • National Animal Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week (first week in November)

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Conclusion

Whether you’re advocating for animal rights or pushing for more ethical methods for the traditional ways humans treat animals, December 10th is a good time to find out more about ways people are trying to help the animal kingdom. You can get involved by volunteering at a shelter, giving towards animal welfare, or engaging in meaningful conversations. With more knowledge comes greater responsibility, so once you’ve discovered which companies practice animal testing you can boycott them and encourage others to switch to more ethical products too, if that is something you believe in.

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Featured Image Credit: Left – Artem Beliaikin_Pexels; Right – StockSnap, Pixabay

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