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Drew: Choosing the best pet for your child

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By Samuetta Hill Drew

So, you want to buy a pet for your child? Pets have been known companions for humans for centuries.  According to Live Science along with others, the most popular pets worldwide are as follows: 142 million people own freshwater fish, where 88.3 million own cats, 74.9 million own dogs, 16 million own birds, 24.3 million own small animals, 13.8 million own horses, 13.4 million own reptiles and 9.6 million own saltwater fish.

Often, younger children’s desire for a pet is based upon a cartoon, video or movie.  As a child I had a couple of friends who wanted a chimpanzee based upon “Cheetah” the chimpanzee who was featured on the television reruns of Tarzan.  Because they were a child they thought as a child but, their parents understood this was not the safest or best pet for their children and family.

This can also be true for older children as well.  They too can be influenced by videos and/or movies. For example, several years ago the dog breed, Rottweiler, became very popular with teens and adults after a series of movies featured them as attack dogs (this is not their natural temperament unless trained).

The fact of the matter is a pet should be selected for your child and family after much consideration based upon your responses to questions listed below. This major decision should never be based upon trends or pop culture because when choosing wisely, pet ownership can be a very rewarding experience for a child and the entire family. Let’s review some of these important questions to ask yourself before selecting the type of pet and purchasing it.

It is important for you to consider the amount of space your dwelling has available for a pet.  Do you have a small or large residence?  Do you have a large or small yard?  Is your yard fenced or not?  Do you own or rent your residence?  What type of animals are permitted if you rent, if any?

Is your pet safe for all members of your family?  Some pets socialize well with children and adults where others only prefer adults or a particular gender.

What is the temperament of your pet? Will it get along well with other family pets if you have more than one?

What type of care does the pet require?  Will it require frequent veterinary visits?  If yes, what type of visits and how often?  Also, what is the cost associated with the visits?

When you and your family are away from home for an extended period, what is the level of care required for the pet?  Do you want a pet that can accompany you on family vacations or do you desire one which remains at home or requires boarding?

Certainly, pet ownership allows children to learn many valuable life lessons as they care for another living creature.  It can teach responsibility and dependability with adult guidance but, it remains the responsibility of the adult to Keep an Eye on Safety while shopping for the best pet for their child and family.  Next week we will examine some safe and best pet options for children.