Within a week post-Christmas, ads were up on Kijiji saying stuff like, “Our kids don’t seem all too interested in the puppy we bought them as a gift. So, we want to sell the life we took responsibility over.” So, that’s bananas. If a parent is going to add a pet to the family as a gift to their child(ren), this pet “belongs” to the kid(s) in name only.
Adults need to understand the following about pet ownership:
• Animals do not expire after X amount of years. You can be on the responsibility hook for over twenty years. You can’t decide that when the pet isn’t cute anymore it is OK to abandon it. Or that your child will continue caring for the pet once they themselves are older. You made the decision to have a pet, not your six year old.
• If you want something cute that does not require care, get a stuffed animal. I am sadly used to seeing dogs and cats surrendered all over, but I was genuinely surprised by the amount of bunnies I saw at the shelter I foster kitties for. Did this many people really only Google Image ‘cute bunny’ as their pre-pet ownership research?
• Not every pet will work with your specific family situation. Do you know how much I want a dog? A lot of much. But I have three cats who would be mean to the pup, and no one would be home to give the new addition the care and affection they require. So, just because I want a dog, doesn’t mean I am getting one until I have more time.
• Life happens, sometimes it is best for the animal to be re-homed. However, if you aren’t willing to do your due diligence with pet care, please don’t get one. This isn’t a lesson you want to teach children, that lives are disposable.
This all being said- ANIMALS! YAY!
By simply holding my cat my stress levels go down. Not only are my cats family, they help a great deal with keeping my mental health in order. There’s a reason therapy pets exist. Pet ownership can teach children about responsibility and nurturing. Pet ownership can be wonderful, when done responsibly.
I did an informal poll amongst friends, animal lovers, and people who work with animals. Despite people’s preference (I think cats solve all problems) the Best Pet title went to … rats. They can live in apartments, are intelligent, and affectionate. On the site Pet Rats, there are many testimonials to how rats make the perfect pet, especially for children: “Rats make great pets for both children and adults. Because they are nocturnal animals, they are happy to sleep during the day while their owner is at work or school. Then they are ready to come out to play in the morning or evening. They are especially good pets for apartment dwellers with limited space, and busy people, as long as you can spend at least 1/2 to 1 hour a day with your rats.” Plus, fish are boring, and the ones that aren’t boring have teeth and freak me out.