Many children yearn to have pets of their own and studies have proven that the experience can actually be healthy for children’s mental and emotional development. Children who care for pets tend to be more emphatic and patient and they get along better with other people, too. Such lessons in kindness and tolerance are among the most important things a person will ever learn and they cannot be taught through books or curriculums.
There are many different kinds of pets and a family should choose one that is right for them. Although some animals like goldfish and hermit crabs are easiest to find and buy at a pet store, animals like cats and dogs really do not need to be purchased. Most animal experts agree that if you want to add either a cat or a dog to your family then adoption is the best option.
At present, there are millions of homeless dogs and cats. In fact, in the United States alone it is estimated that only 1 of every 10 dogs born will find a permanent home! Cats face an even more dismal number—because cat’s breed so often there is an extreme abundance of stray (also known as “feral”) cats. It is approximated that 58 million stray cats live in the USA alone. As a result of all these stray animals, many shelters are completely overcrowded. Tragically, about 2.7 million healthy and adoptable animals are euthanatized every year and, once again, these numbers only count for America.
Procedures like spaying and neutering have helped decrease the homeless animal population somewhat. In fact, many dedicated animal lovers work to maintain “controlled cat colonies” which means that a person will feed and look after a group of feral cats. These people also ensure that the cats in their colonies have all been spayed and neutered to prevent an influx of any more kittens. However, spaying and neutering does not prevent all stray animal births and so there are still many cats and dogs sitting in shelters all across the country.
Although there are many reputable and wonderful breeders who sell healthy and loved purebred dogs and cats, if you want to save a life then it is certainly best to take a look at a local animal shelter. Although most of the dogs in these shelters are mixed breed “mutts” they are highly likely to make loving and affectionate friends. And cat’s personalities remain largely the same whether an alley cat or a pure-bred Siamese!
Adopting an animal will provide you and your child with a loving pet and also increase children’s awareness of animal issues and make them feel good about serving their community and practicing kindness. It is certainly an endeavor that is worthy of consideration!