About 150 people gathered at the Hyatt La Jolla Thursday morning for a candlelight vigil to call attention to the millions of animals who were euthanized in the past year because the shelters couldn’t find homes for them. The event was the inaugural International Remember Me Thursday hosted by the Helen Woodward Animal Center.
People around the world from New York City to Puerto Rico to Japan will light candles Thursday for the animals that lost their lives, Hellen Woodward Animal Center spokeswoman Jessica Gercke said. The event at the Hyatt was the west coast ceremony; several others were planned throughout the world for Thursday.
“The ceremony is to remember pets that have been lost and also to shine a light on pet adoption,” Gercke said.
Former Miss Dallas-Fort Worth Bonnie-Jill Laflin, who was a celebrity guest at the event, echoed the sentiment.
“[This event] is our way of letting people know — educate people on the need for more people adopting,” she said. “Instead of going to breeders or pet stores, they need to adopt through shelters, through rescue groups to save a life. I always tell people, ‘Go adopt your best friend and save a life.’”
Approximately 3.4 million animals are killed each year in the US, according to The Humane Society.
Laflin, who is a scout for the Los Angeles Lakers, also read the official Remember me Thursday poem written by Mike Arms, the president of the Helen Woodward Animal shelter. Arms was the person who came up with the idea of establishing an international day of remembrance for orphaned pets who lost their lives.
The campaign is gaining a lot of support from various animal welfare organizations globally, such as Federación Protectora de Animales de Puerto Rico and Animal Refuge Kansai in Japan. There are also many celebrity supporters, including Bernadette Peters, who co-founded Broadway Barks, Ellen DeGeneres, Kristen Bell and Kristin Chenoweth, whose animal welfare organization, Maddie’s Corner, is an official partner.
In addition, Chenoweth also donated her song, “I Was Here,” to the campaign as the official song and for the official Remember Me Thursday music video, which may be viewed on campaign’s website, remembermethursday.org.
Among those in attendance for the ceremony was Joe Camp, the writer and director behind the hit film, Benji. Camp, who is also on the board of trustees for the center, was the keynote speaker. The original Benji used for the film was a rescue. That information, according the American Humane Association, resulted in more than 1 million adoptions.
“We have to care for these animals,” Camp said. “We have to get in the middle, we have act.”
Rancho Bernardo resident and American Idol Contestant Kristi Krause, who appeared on season 10 and 11 of show, was one of the celebrity guests invited to the event. She is a supporter of the organization and sang at the center’s Annual Spring Fling Gala in June.
“I’m glad I can stand as a role model to people to spread the news about all these animals that need to be taken care of,” Krause said.
People who missed Thursday morning’s ceremony may light a virtual candle online at remembermethursday.org.