Written by: Estefania Arosemena
The holidays are a popular time to give our kiddos the adorable pet they have always wanted. But before you run to buy a new puppy or kitten at your local pet store, there is no better feeling than saving a pet’s life by adopting one from a shelter. There are about 2.7 million adoptable pets dying each year in the U.S. as a result of pet overpopulation. Many of these cats and dogs could have made wonderful pets and were only waiting for a family to love them. A great way to give a pet is to first take your child to your selected rescue shelter. This gives your kids the opportunity to choose the pet they want. Then, you can have your new member of the family equipped for the holidays and with a bow under the Christmas tree!
Besides the gratifying feeling of saving a life, loving an animal will enhance your child’s life as well. Having to daily fill a dog’s food and water bowls, taking it on outdoor walks and all the training involved, teaches your kids to be responsible caretakers. According to new studies by Dr. Gern of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, another benefit of having a furred animal in the house is that it actually decreases the risk of kids developing allergies and helps to strengthen their immune system. Playing and exercising with a pet can maintain your child active and be a doorway to learning for him or her. For example, the rewards of training a puppy a new trick can teach your child the importance of perseverance. Caring for an animal can also be a source of joy and relaxation. Recent studies have shown that living with dogs raises good mood chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. By becoming pet owners, your kids will be more joyful, have higher self-esteem and become more committed individuals.
Before adopting and bringing home this new member of the family, make sure you talk to your kids about the attention pets require. They should be aware of the daily care and activity a pet needs. Kids younger than four years old do not have the maturity to be pet owners since at times they cannot control their impulses and can be innocently aggressive with animals. Kids who are already enrolled in school and have more responsibilities are better prepared to bring home a new puppy or kitten. Owning a pet also costs money, so plan your budget ahead of time for the food bills, veterinary care, toys, grooming and any other expenses that can mount up. Once you have this under control, you can be in the lookout for shelters. You can visit The Shelter Pet Project to learn more about adopting a pet or attending one of the many adoption events going on throughout the year. With today’s economy and the many returns of pets to local shelters, there are more pets than ever before who need a new family.