(ANIMAL ACTIVISM/CELEBRITY NEWS) Each year on the fourth Thursday of September, Remember Me Thursday, a worldwide pet awareness campaign, sheds light on the millions of orphaned pets around the globe.

On the day of the event, which will take place on Thursday, September 25, 2014, individuals light candles not only in remembrance of orphan pets who have lost their lives, but also to shine a light upon animals who still desperately need homes.

Every year, over 3.4 million shelter pets are euthanized before being adopted. Photo credit: Animalcenter.org
Every year, over three million shelter pets are euthanized before being adopted. Photo credit: Animalcenter.org

Remember Me Thursday, a campaign put forth by pet adoption organizations, pet parents, and animal lovers alike, spreads awareness on the number of shelter animals in desperate need of a loving home. By joining in the Remember Me Thursday ceremony, people can help promote pet adoption around the globe.

Whether you are part of a certified animal organization or simply an everyday animal lover, you are encouraged to participate in this heartfelt campaign by lighting a candle on September 25, and by making the conscious choice to adopt rather than buy a pet. Individuals can also log onto the Remember Me Thursday Website and light a virtual candle to show their pet appreciation.

Orphan pets deserve recognition, and when studies show that only 30 percent of pets in U.S. households come from rescues, bringing awareness to this issue is that much more meaningful.

People around the globe participate in candle-lighting ceremonies to honor orphaned pets. Photo credit: Animalcenter.org
People around the globe participate in candle-lighting ceremonies to honor orphaned pets. Photo credit: Animalcenter.org

Mike Arms, the creator of Remember Me Thursday, began the campaign last year on September 26, 2013. He has been involved in animal welfare for over 30 years, and has helped save and find homes for over 9 million pets.

According to Arms, he created Remember Me Thursday to help increase awareness about adoptable pets and decrease the number of homeless animals who are sadly euthanized:

“My heart breaks for those beautiful people working in animal welfare who are forced to take the lives of the pets they love. I believe lighting a candle for the orphan pets will be a way for people to let the world know how much they love them, and the awareness can help in increasing adoptions and decreasing euthanasia.”

Mike Arms has placed over 9 million pets in homes since 1999. Photo credit: Animalcenter.org
Mike Arms has helped place over nine million pets in homes since 1999. Photo credit: Animalcenter.org

His idea for Remember Me Thursday began at an international conference to teach organizations about pet adoption and euthanasia. At the conference,which was held only six weeks prior to the first Remember Me Thursday event, Arms spoke and gave each person in the audience a candle to light in honor of orphan pets. For him, lighting a candle for homeless and deceased pets would “show the world the millions of pets who need to be adopted.”

During Remember Me Thursday’s first event, over 139 countries including Germany, Mexico, Canada, Spain, Japan, Puerto Rico, and Australia, showed their support for orphan pets by lighting thousands of candles around the globe. Aside from planning official candle lighting ceremonies, over 100,000 individuals also created their own personal ceremonies to honor their pets.

Even though this is only Remember Me Thursday’s second event, the major success of the first campaign ensures a promising future for homeless pets.

Last year’s event also experienced success because of immense celebrity involvement and support. Ellen DeGeneres supported the hashtag campaign, #LightForPets, in a tweet to bring awareness to the Remember Me Thursday event. Remember Me Thursday reached up to 68 million social media followers at last year’s event.

Kristin Chenoweth’s song titled, “I Was Here,” was used as the official 2013 Remember Me Thursday video.

Millions of orphan pets around the world are waiting to be adopted. Photo credit: A Day in the Life of a Goose
Millions of orphan pets around the world are waiting to be adopted. Photo credit: A Day in the Life of a Goose

Katherine Heigl also supported Remember Me Thursday’s 2013 efforts via social media. As a lifetime dog lover, Heigl understands the tragic situations that so many unadopted dogs must endure.

In a recent article published by people magazine called, “Katherine Heigl On Her Eight Dogs: ‘We Watch Movies Together,’” she brings awareness to the pressing issue of homeless animals:

“We have to diminish the number of animals entering shelters. There are enough homes but there aren’t enough people adopting. They’re buying, so animals end up in shelters and because there’s not enough space, they have to euthanize or kill [them].”

Arms is hopeful that in the future, Remember Me Thursday will become a calendar event so that on the fourth Thursday of September each year, people will light candles for orphan pets. Ultimately, however, he longs for the day when no candles will need to be lit for pets who have died and pets who still need to be adopted.

Mark your calendar for September 25, and remember to light a candle in honor of pets you have lost, and healthy pets that still need to find forever homes. By planning and registering a candle-lighting event, you can help enlighten the lives of thousands of helpless animals.

Whether it’s lighting a single candle or hundreds, every spark of light makes a difference in brightening the dark truth behind orphaned pets.

Click here to register your pet adoption organization or animal rescue for Remember Me Thursday.

— Rebecca Hartt, exclusive to Global Animal

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