Pets can be a welcome addition to the family but it isn’t always easy determining the correct time to make such an introduction. The RSPCA deals with up to 149,000 complaints of cruelty and neglect every year with many cases being attributed to sheer ignorance from pet owners. Neglect may not always be intentional but it can be prevented by refraining from being a pet owner if you are not 100% up to the job.
The responsibilities that come along with a pet, whether it is a hamster or a pony, are huge. Apart from the change in routine in your household you need to consider the financial implications of owning a pet as well. Your pet will need to be fed a high-quality pet food and unforeseen vet expenses are common practice for pet owners: taking out pet health insurance is fast gaining in popularity for this very reason. All factors need to be taken into consideration before such a big step is taken.
It might be the right time for your family to get a pet when:
Your children are comfortable around animals
Don’t ever see getting a pet as a cure for a child’s fear of animals. Take your family to visit an animal shelter or spend time with friends who have pets to see how your children react around animals. Some kids are naturally apprehensive of animals, don’t force them to interact with pets but rather show them through your actions how to approach the animal.
Your children are respectful of animals
It is important that children show the necessary respect towards animals. They have to understand that you can’t hit or tug on a pet and that you need to be gentle. One of the most vital things to teach a child is to leave a pet alone while he is eating.
Your family is 100% committed to getting a pet
You need to make sure that, as a family, you are in this for the long haul. A pet is a long-term commitment and if you need to determine whether the desire to have an animal is a permanent one or just a passing fad that will wear off in time. Your whole family should engage in adopting a new pet. As upsetting as it may be you will need to respect that some family members may be allergic to pets or simply not like them. If the whole family does not wholeheartedly support the decision to get a pet, it is simply not the right time.
You are prepared to take on the added responsibility
As an adult, you need to assume responsibility for your pet. Your children may be able to participate in caring for the pet but it is unfair and unrealistic to expect them to be the primary caretakers. Depending on your child’s age and willingness to participate, you can assign tasks such as topping up food and water bowls or taking your new dog for a walk.
Getting a pet is a big decision as you take on responsibility for another life. A pet isn’t something you can pack away in a box when you grow tired of it. Please make sure you and your family are absolutely ready to welcome a furry friend into your home before you get a pet.