It is no coincidence that the launch of the annual Human-Animal Relationship Awareness Week falls on World Kindness Day, a day when people are encouraged to show more kindness to both those around us — human and nonhuman — as well as to the planet. But how can we turn the ethos behind this celebratory day into everyday intentional acts of kindness?

In the 1994 article titled, “The Caring Sleuth”, ASI Board President Kenneth Shapiro considers caring about and toward nonhuman animals to be a “pervasive personal style” (p. 149) and writes that, “Caring about nonhuman animals is such an attitude. It means being attentive to them in a watchful and concerned way. More than just curiosity or interest, it is a positive inclining or leaning toward them, a sympathy for them and their needs. A caring attitude is one of continuous sensitivity and responsiveness, not a transitory awareness or a momentary concern” (p. 149).

As we enter the 6th annual Human-Animal Relationship Awareness Week, a week dedicated to raising awareness on the importance of human-animal relationships, we aim to highlight some of the benefits and potential problems within human-animal relationships, and how through intentional and continuous sensitivity and caring acts – through kindness – we can work to create safer and more humane and compassionate societies for all.

Throughout this week, we will be sharing Open Access articles from our managed journals each day that address a number of important issues relevant to the human-animal relationship. We begin the week by sharing the Open Access Special Issue of the ASI-managed journal, JAAWS. This issue, themed “Human-Animal Relationships and Welfare in the Anthropocene: Pandemics, Climate Change, and Other Disasters” brings animal others into broader discussions about welfare, health, disaster management, and ethics in this time of extremes, where the current pandemic and the climate crisis facing our planet are placing both human and nonhuman animal lives and livelihoods at risk.

In the issue’s Introduction, ASI’s HAS Program Director, Gala Argent, writes that, “Recalibrating the investigative scope of animal welfare studies during- and post-pandemic to include our relationships with other animal and the environmental issues we and they face seems a natural step in reaction to this second, crucial crisis we now face. As we continue to study – and ruminate on – this pandemic’s effects on animal welfare, so must we also ponder our entanglements not only with other animals, but also with the various ecosystems we humans exploit and share with them” (p. 118).

We invite you to enjoy the shared readings in the upcoming Awareness Week, a time when we can pause and reflect as we consider our collective future on this earth.

Please remember to use the hashtag #HARAWeek when sharing on social media so that we can join in the conversation and celebrate all the incredible work being done in and around the world.

 

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