October Small and Simple Stewardship Step: Companion Animal Welfare

September 27, 2021

“What is it to be humane...it is more than to be considerate of the animal life entrusted to our care. It is a grateful appreciation of God’s creations. It is the lesson of divine love. To Him all life is a sacred creation for the use of His children. Do we stand beside Him in our tender regard for life?... Men cannot worship the Creator and look with careless indifference upon his creations. The love of all life helps man to the enjoyment of a better life.”

Joseph F. Smith (Juvenile Instructor, 1918)

From ancient Israelites to early pioneers of the modern day church, the Lord has often shown His love for the animals of the earth through the laws of the gospel ( Deut. 22:10, 25:4; Ex. 20:10, 23:4-5) or through modern leaders of the church (see compilation Kindness to Animals and Caring for the Earth by Richard D. Stratton ). We have been told that to God, all animal life is sacred but have also been admonished to ask ourselves, “do we stand beside Him in our tender care of life?” (Joseph F. Smith, 1918). In October 1951, David O. Mckay commented in General Conference that “a true Latter-day Saint is kind to animals, is kind to every created thing, for God created all.” It is clear then that by caring for the animals of the earth, we are showing our love and gratitude to our God.

In the case of companion animals (dogs and cats), through hundreds of years of domestication (breeding for particular traits, appearance, and behavior), we have created species that are highly dependent on humans for survival, and for whom reproduction is no longer managed by nature. As a result of this (and a variety of other irresponsible actions on the part of us two-legged folks), communities across the globe struggle with the effects of companion animal overpopulation. Shelters and rescues in many areas are overflowing, and it has been reported that due to the lack of space, 80% of shelter euthanizations occur to healthy, adoptable pets.

We are further reminded by Joseph F. Smith that “men cannot worship the creator and look with careless indifference upon his creations”. This month we can consider the ways that we can show God our love for some of his most precious creations, companion animals. 

Our invitation for October is to find ways to show our gratitude for our Creator by showing kindness to His creatures that depend so greatly on us for life and to find other ways to support our communities grappling with animal overpopulation issues. Below are a few suggestions, however we encourage you to pray and consider additional stewardship efforts you can make this month:

  • Spay and neuter your pet(s) and make sure they are microchipped. If you have already done this, bravo! Now, you may consider donating to a local shelter or rescue so other animals have the same opportunities. 
  • If you buy a dog from a breeder, make sure it is a reputable breeder. This is a really important area to do your research. After buying the pet, donate a portion of the amount you spent to help homeless animals in your community. 
  • Open up your home to a foster animal. Although this sounds difficult, it can be much easier than it looks and studies have recently shown that removing a dog or cat from the stress of a shelter for just one or two nights has incredible effects on animal well-being. Consider your situation and be brave. 
  • Learn about your local shelter and rescue programs. Consider how you might be able to contribute to their volunteer program. If you’re not sure, reach out to them and ask what you can offer. It might be as easy as helping to gather donated goods, walking dogs, or playing with cats. 
  • Consider supporting your local animal welfare organizations through social media. Destigmatizing adoptable animals through peer to peer sharing can be especially helpful. 

We hope these invitations help you to “stand beside Him in our tender regard for life”. As you find your own way to be a better steward, share your inspired actions on social media—don’t forget to tag us and use both #EverySaintASteward and #SmallAndSimpleStewardship!