Over the past century, dogs and a few cats have been a favorite image to appear on postage stamps. Worldwide, there are now more than 4,000 stamps featuring dogs. Perhaps coincidentally, both the UK and the U.S. are issuing commemorative stamps showing rescued animals. The British Royal Mail has just issued a set to mark the 150th anniversary of the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. All of the pets on the stamps were abandoned by owners and “rehomed” by the charity.
This year the U.S. Postal Service has chosen animal rescue shelters for its 2010 “social awareness” cause, and will release its “Adopt a Shelter Pet” series on April 30.
The postal service has much preferred pictures of dogs over cats. That’s ironic, because when was the last time that a cat bit a postman? In the UK, cats didn’t merit their own set of stamps until 1995. In the U.S., a cat made it onto a stamp in 1998, but had to share the stamp panel with a gerbil, goldfish and Bassett hound. The USPS did finally put a dog and a cat from a rescue shelter on a first class stamp in 2004, but only to encourage spaying and neutering. While we are pleased that the Royal Mail and USPS are paying attention to animals in need of a home, we must add, it’s about time!