Registrations are now open for the biggest doggy play date of the year! The Million Paws Walk is the RSPCA’s most ambitious fundraising event, and a fun day for all animal lovers. Now in its 21st year, the walk is the premier event on the canine calendar. Thousands of people will walk at 17 different locations across Victoria on Sunday 15 May, 2016. Money raised through entry fees, the sale of merchandise and online fundraising will help to fund critical work in the community, including the care of more than 28,000 animals entering RSPCA shelters each year.
The Million Paws Walk was started in 1994 in Queensland by Dr Cam Day, who believed a special event involving animals walking together would provide a fun day out for pets and their owners. It would also promote responsible pet ownership and raise much-needed funds for the RSPCA. Since then it has expanded with over 70 events held nationally.
Taking part in the Million Paws Walk is a great way to help animals in need. All animal lovers are encouraged to brush off their walking shoes, pull out their pet’s lead and bring along their ‘best friend’ to Australia’s favourite pet event. You can register and find Victorian walk locations here. People can set up their own fundraising page – a great way to make every step count. You don’t even need a dog! As well as joining fellow animal lovers and dogs on the walk, there will be entertainment, displays, stalls, giveaways and a host of other activities. There’s nothing like the sight of thousands of pooches (and various other pets) to gladden the heart of non-dog-owning dog lovers! And there will be plenty of RSPCA staff to talk to if you are interested in adopting a dog or other animal.
Don’t worry if it rains. The walk will happen come hail, rain or shine. As an added bonus this year, if you register online and create a fundraising page, you will receive a free RSPCA Frisbee for your dog. Every dollar raised will make a difference, and help raise the target of $500,000 to prevent animal cruelty. See you there!
Pets give us their companionship, loyalty and love. They delight us, improve our health, teach children about responsibility and remind us that we live in an eco-system alongside other animals. I for one, couldn’t imagine life without them. But pet ownership also goes hand in hand with a duty to manage their effect on wildlife and the environment. This means more than picking up dog poo in the park (in biodegradable plastic bags!) or putting a bell on your cat.
- It can begin by adopting an animal from one of the many shelters around Australia. This reduces backyard breeding. There are literally thousands of lovely dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, etc, temperament tested and in need of homes. Many rescue organisations are staffed by dedicated volunteers who devote their lives to helping these animals. If you can’t adopt an animal, consider donating to your local shelter. When my kids were younger they would save up from their allowance, and every holidays take their money boxes to the local shelter. After counting out the change, they would then take a tour to see the animals.
- Desex and microchip! This goes for dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets – pretty much everything. Even my horses are micro-chipped. Geld colts and don’t breed your mares. Only serious, show breeders should bring more animals into a world already groaning with neglected and unwanted animals.
- Keep cats inside, or in an outside cattery. Bells aren’t enough. Cats are deadly predators, and hunt even if well-fed. Roaming cats get hit by cars, injured in fights, catch fatal diseases (such as feline AIDS) or get lost. Keep dogs from wandering free. I live in a rural area, and this is a big problem. I’ve seen the heart-breaking damage domestic pets wreak on other animals. Sheep, goats, echidnas and wombats attacked by dogs. Possums, bandicoots and native birds killed by cats.
- Recycle. Don’t be tempted to buy the latest, cutest pet accessories. Avoid plastic. Check what you already have around the home. Worn blankets, sheets and towels are great for bedding and easily washable. Home-made toys such as boxes and natural twine with a few knots are good for cats. Old shoes, tennis balls and soft toys can be more fun than store-bought for dogs, though make sure there are no sharp pointy edges or easily removable parts first.
- Second-hand shops and markets are treasure troves for toys and bedding, as well as used carry crates and feeding bowls. And of course, newspaper and natural fibre-based cat litters (such as walnut shell or paper based litters) are a great green option for environmentally-minded cat owners.
- The meaty diet of dogs and cats carries a big carbon footprint. Excess packaging also has a negative impact on the environment. Buy Australian made dry food to reduce food-miles, and consider brands like Nature’s Gift, that have a good environmental track record. Consider paper-packaged pet-food, buying from butchers and buying in bulk to reduce waste. Add left-over vegetables to your dog’s diet. Feed more raw meat like bones, offal and chicken wings. I’ve noticed many itchy skin issues improve with more raw food in the diet. Australian sardines are full of good oils, low in mercury and are a sustainable seafood. Free-range eggs are packed full of essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.
Here at Pilyara we try to balance doing the right thing by our animals and the environment. Do you have any handy tips or thoughts on sustainable pet ownership? Please share 🙂