by Styliana Kyriakou of MUST magazine
October 4 was designated World Animal Day because it coincides with the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, who has been proclaimed by the Catholic Church as the patron saint of animals and nature. It was first celebrated in 1931 at a conference of environmentalists in Florence, as a way of raising public and scientific awareness of endangered animals. Since then, the feast day has expanded to include all species of the animal kingdom.
Animals in our lives have played and continue to play an important role. They have given humans great capabilities since the dawn of civilization. With their strength and intelligence, they have helped us to make use of all the conquests of our spirit. Animals were the first means of transport, either carrying the load on their backs or pulling the first heavy carriages. And from then on in everyday life, they have never been absent from our lives.
One of the most important concepts in the study of the relationship between man and animals is the term 'bonding', which is used to describe the period of domestication of various species. The strength of the bond allowed animals to go from being pets to being considered members of one's family. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, "the bond between humans and animals is a mutually beneficial and powerful relationship, influenced by behaviors necessary for the health and well-being of both. This includes, but is not limited to, emotional, psychological and physical interactions between humans, animals and the environment."
Animals in a home can ward off loneliness and depression. They can add a sense of security and protection. They can encourage physical activity. They can be an excuse for outings, new hobbies, or group interests. Their responsibilities and daily rituals of care can add meaning to people's lives. After all, associating with an animal makes a person more sensitive in their relationships with other people.
It has been scientifically proven that children who have an animal develop values such as responsibility, friendship and respect and develop their social skills, sensitivity and personality. Children become very attached to pets and watching a young child and a puppy or kitten growing up together and helping each other is one of the greatest pleasures of life. Pets help children learn the important skill of communicating without words and also instill in them a respect for nature that can be very valuable.
In modern times, man still benefits from their coexistence with other types of animals, using some of them for therapeutic purposes. Animal therapy according to the Delta Society (one of the largest non-profit animal therapy organizations in America) is defined as "a guided intervention in which an animal that meets certain criteria is part of the therapeutic process." This process involves specially trained animals and professionals working as co-therapists. Animal therapy focuses on improving human physical, mental, emotional and social functioning and for this purpose dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, donkeys, dolphins, birds, fish, guinea pigs and rabbits are used.
[This article was translated from its Greek original]