Last week I spoke about the dangers of buying a pet as a gift for someone during the holidays, and the important questions that must be answered first. When considering getting a pet for a child, there are extra considerations. Children may embrace the companionship a pet can provide, but realize that there still needs to be a parent or guardian consenting to the pet as a gift.
• Teach the child how to care for the pet — The parent or guardian must agree to teach the child how to feed, bathe and exercise the animal. Dr. Rosenberg points out that bunnies for Easter are a popular gift, but people don’t understand how to care for them.
• The adult must still be in charge — “The child may be responsible for the animal’s daily care but the parent or guardian will ultimately be responsible for ensuring the pet receives the necessary care and purchasing the animal’s food, toys, treats, bedding and veterinary care,” says Messer.
• Share responsibility — Giving a pet to a child can be a wonderful tool in teaching responsibility, but there must be a sensible adult to intervene when needed.