World Animal Day

St. Francis of Assisi statue, Aspin Hill Memorial Park. June 2012.
St. Francis of Assisi statue, Aspin Hill Memorial Park. June 2012.

Today, October 4, is World Animal Day, which also happens to be the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals. Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery used to hold observances of this day in during the 1930s and 1940s.

The first was in 1936. Pet cemetery owner Richard Birney spoke at the ceremony, along with Virginia W. Sargent, president of the Animal Protective Association and James P. Briggs of the Humane Education Association.

In 1940, the event featured a talk by Charles Edward Russell, president of the National Society of Humane Regulation of Vivisection and a display of the work of Harry Bradbury, an artist specializing in birds and animals.

The last observance of World Animal Day at Aspin Hill which was reported in the newspapers was in 1943. After Richard and Bertha Birney’s deaths in 1944, the practice appears to have been discontinued.

Sources consulted:

“Rites Will Honor Pets at Cemetery.” Washington Post, October 3, 1936. pg. X26.

“Animal Lovers Pay Tribute to Dead Pets.” Washington Post, October 7, 1940, pg. 13

“Animal Memorial Observance to Be Held Today.” Washington Post, October 4, 1943, pg. 8.

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