Animal Stars: teaching grandchildren to be sensitive and kind

Animal stars

“Discussing the steps that everyone connected with the film industry takes to keep the animals safe with your grandchildren offers a valuable lesson while they are still impressionable.”

 By Dr. Robin Ganzert 

If you’re like me, you grew up watching Disney movies and classic television shows like “Mr. Ed,” “Lassie,” and “Flipper.” Even as a child, the common thread I loved in these movies and shows was how prominent a role animals played, and how strong the human-animal bond was between the animal stars and their two-legged counterparts. Seeing how Wilbur, little Timmy, and Sandy and Bud treated their respective pets gave me a new appreciation for animals, and inspired a lifelong dream to help protect those who cannot protect themselves. 

That’s why this fall I published my first book, Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors, co-written by my friends Allen and Linda Anderson of the Angel Animals Network. Animal lovers all, we detailed the amazing hard work and dedication that Hollywood’s animal actors and their trainers go through to make their “characters” shine on screen and what it takes to ensure the safety of those furry, feathered, and scaled stars. 

Many of us have heard the phrase “No Animals Were Harmed,” but did you know that it’s more than a slogan? In fact, it’s a certification of best animal welfare practices, and in 2015, American Humane Association’s program by that same name will celebrate its 75th anniversary. Thanks to this program, we have protected more than 100,000 animals a year (not including swarms of insects), on 1,000-2,000 production sets each year, which adds up to a whole lot of protected animals over seventy-five years. And isn’t it reassuring to learn that American Humane Association representatives, who were on set for so many of those movies and TV shows I adored, are still working to ensure the welfare of animals on the movies and shows our grandchildren watch? 

In fact, discussing the steps that everyone connected with the film industry takes to keep the animals safe with your grandchildren offers a valuable lesson while they are still impressionable. You can even explain to them that the way someone treats an animal mirrors the way they will also treat people. Anyone careful to treat an animal with respect and dignity will carry that through life when interacting with peers, family, and even strangers. 

This holiday season, treat yourself to an insider’s look behind the scenes of some recent animal movies by checking out Animal Stars, and when you’re visiting your grandchildren, consider sharing your love of animals by watching one of your favorite classics together. Films with animals can be more than entertainment, giving each generation the gift of learning how to be more human.  

Animal StarsDr. Robin Ganzert is the President and CEO of American Humane Association. She hosts a weekly radio show “Be Humane with Dr. Robin Ganzert,” on Pet Life Radio, the number one pet network on the planet. Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors is her first published book.

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