Sheryl Bautch from the Family Service of Champaign County stops by the studio for this week’s Your Family and is giving you tips on what to prepare for if you plan on bringing a pet home for the holidays.
The thought of a child’s delight in finding a puppy or kitten under the Christmas tree leads many families to consider getting a pet at this time of year. However, pet ownership is a responsibility that will last long past the holidays, so it is important to carefully consider whether your family is ready to bring a pet into your home.
First, should parents get a pet with the expectation that the children will take care of it?
No. No matter what your children promise, most of the time the parent will eventually end up taking care of the pet. If this is not acceptable to you as the parent, do not get the pet.
Time, energy and commitment: Do you, the parent, have the time, energy and commitment to care for this pet (remember, you shouldn’t count on the children to do this)? pets need to be trained, walked, fed, have their litter box or cage cleaned, etc. Don’t bring a pet into your home unless you are willing to give it the time and care needed to make the relationship successful.
Cost: Can you afford this pet? Consider all of the costs, including food, training, licenses, equipment, toys and medical care. If you’re away from home a lot, also include the cost of boarding or a pet-sitter. A dog or a cat will probably cost a minimum of $300-$400 per year and it may be significantly higher depending on the health and needs of the pet.
Permission to have a pet: If you live in an apartment or condominium, check with your landlord or condo association to be sure pets are allowed. If your current housing is temporary, ask yourself if you have the commitment to take the pet with you when you move.
Space needs: Be sure you know how large your pet will get and ask yourself if your home is adequate for the pet’s space needs.
Health concerns: Make sure you know whether anyone in your family, and anyone who visits your home frequently, is allergic to any type of animal. If your children have never really been around cats or dogs, consider having them spend time with these animals before bringing one into your home so you can be sure they don’t have allergies.
Remember that, in addition to training your pet, you need to train your children. They must be taught to respect the pet and how to behave around it. Every day pets are turned in to shelters for biting or scratching a child when it is the child who poked, teased or grabbed the pet. If your child is too young or too rambunctious to learn the proper way to treat a pet, then your family should wait before getting a pet.