Whether you think that a pet will be good for your children, or they’ve been begging you for one for months, you probably don’t want to jump into pet ownership blind. Plus, if the furry creature is meant to help your children, you don’t want to get just any pet from the shelter. Bringing an animal into the family is a big decision.
Before you choose to get an animal with your children, you’ll want to follow these five steps.
1. Talk with Your Children
Sometimes, even though you might want to, it may not be best to surprise your kids with an animal. Introducing them to a boisterous Rottweiler puppy out of the blue, for instance, could cause some upset!
First, talk with your family to ensure they’re all happy for a new addition to the household. Whether it be a cat, dog, lizard or guinea pig, knowing that everyone is on board is key to having a happy home.
2. Decide Whether You Want an ESA or a Family Pet
Once you and your children, and partner if applicable, have discussed and agreed that getting an animal is a good decision, it’s time to make another decision. Do you want the pet to become an emotional support animal?
ESAs can be amazing companions for children (and adults) with mental health issues, learning difficulties, and disabilities. If you want an ESA to enter you and your children’s lives, then you’ll need to get an emotional support animal letter. Otherwise, you don’t need any specific paperwork.
A family pet can still provide the comfort that an ESA does, but it won’t be allowed in airports or in specific apartments or condos. Research all the rules around ESAs before applying for your pet to be one.
3. Determine the Type of Pet You Want
Now the fun part – it’s time to brainstorm on the kind of animal that you want to bring into the lives of your children. Now is an ideal chance to get the kids excited about bringing a furry friend into their home.
Mention the traditional favorites like cats or dogs, but also keep your mind open to other pets that your kids might be interested in. Maybe they’ll want a rat, bird, or lizard. If it’s an ESA you’ll be getting, consider the types of animals best suited to this role.
Whatever they end up choosing, if it’s possible, settle on whatever animal makes your family the most excited.
4. Prepare Your Home
Before the adoption day, make sure that you have everything ready to bring your new pet home. Involve your family in the process as much as possible.
Go out with your kids to get pet supplies, food, and other miscellaneous items. Have them help you set up the beds, toys, and the food and water. You’ll want to make sure that you set your pet up in a room that doesn’t have expensive items in it.
5. Go to Shelters/Humane Societies
Though there’s a tradition of taking kids to pet stores to choose the animal that catches their eye, consider going to shelters or humane societies instead. Unfortunately, many pet stores practice inhumane breeding and housing techniques for the animals.
With shelters and humane societies, you’re helping keep animals off the streets and giving them good homes. Plus, you’re instilling a level of empathy and kindness in your children that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
A Pet Will Change Your Family’s Lives
Getting an animal for your children will help them learn many skills and be more compassionate and responsible. They’ll also have a companion to play with at all times when parents and siblings are busy.