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Diana L. Guerrero

Diana L. Guerrero

Animal behaviorist and author of Blessing of the Animals...

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Dr. Robyn Jaynes

Pet care expert for PetSmart

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Warren Eckstein

Pet trainer and author of Pet Aerobics

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Question:What's a good first pet for a child?

a hamster? gerbils? how about a turtle?

Asked by wishuponastar on 4/3/08 1 Answer»


The more appropriate question is "what pet will best fit into our household?" -- asking this question improves your chances of picking a species that fits into your lifestyle, your schedule, your patience level, etc.

I work with animal rescues and I am increasingly against the concept of "children's pets." There are too many animals of all species in shelters who were surrendered/abandoned because a child lost interest in the animal, stopped taking care of it themselves, and Mom and Dad wanted no part of pet care.

Children are not wired for responsibility and commitment. They learn it--but letting them learn it by being the sole caregiver of a life is not the way to go...too often it ends badly for the animals. Until they learn to take care of themselves without constant poking, prodding, reminding, and nagging from Mom & Dad, they're not ready to take care of another living being.

Your best bet is to choose a FAMILY PET for whom the parents will be primary caregivers. Then assign select pet-related chores to your child that are appropriate to their age, motor skills, etc. As the child gets older, more pet-related chores can be rotated through their list. But, always, Mom & Dad are the ones ultimately responsible.

There ARE some children out there who are exceptions to the norm when it comes to pet care. But they seem to be getting increasingly hard to find.

Answered by: LoneWriter on 1/12/10
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