We were delighted to see the May 7th article titled "Bring Home The Best Pet" in the PARADE magazine in our Sunday newspapers. Partly, it was because the authors recommended guinea pigs as good, kid-friendly pets because they're active during the day, highly sociable, big enough to be handled safely by most children, and will live five to seven years with proper care.
What we really liked was the authors' advice and comments on responsible pet adoption -- especially after the influx of guinea pigs we've taken in this year from owner surrenders...usually from families where kids regrettably lost interest in a pet. (Recent conversations with some of the dog and cat rescues in Connecticut revealed that they're seeing the same thing.)
But getting back to the article...
Authors Sarah Wilson and Brian Kilcommons talked about pet adoptions ranging from dogs and cats to exotics to birds to reptiles and fish. And some of the points they made likely received a chorus of "Here! Here!" from pet adopters and animal rescues around the country. We'll highlight a few here:
- "Adopting a living creature must never be a spontaneous decision."
- "As a parent, you must be fully prepared to take responsibility for the animal....No matter what lessons you hope your child will learn from this experience, the animal doesn't exist to teach. Any living creature in your home is the adult's responsibility."
- Include children in the pre-adoption research process, preparing for the pet's arrival, and tasks in the daily care routine that they can manage. Adopting an animal (any animal) is a great way to teach your kids about responsibility, but keep in mind that there are some tasks that small bodies with small hands can't do.
- Keep pets in a common area, not in a child's room, so their health and care can be monitored, they can be part of the family's activity, and a child's handling of the pet can be supervised by an adult.
If someone you know is thinking about adopting a pet for the first time for their family, encourage them to check out the PARADE article online.
If you have stories to share about your own experiences with adopting pets, or additional tips about kids and pets, use the Comments link below to let us (and others) know.