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Hey Mom and Dad: Is a Pet an Appropriate Holiday Gift for a Child?

Parents, Patch wants to hear from you on the questions that get families talking.

Welcome to Hey Mom and Dad—a weekly feature in which we ask our Facebook fans to share their views on parenting. Every week, we get the conversation started by taking a look back at a question we asked parents the week before on Patch Facebook pages from around the area.

It's a rite of passage for nearly every child: Begging your parents for that first cat, dog or guinea pig as a Holiday present. The debate on our local Facebook pages took many different turns this week, and we want to hear from you, too.

Do you think a new pet is an appropriate gift for your kids? If so, what age is the right age to even consider this new responsibility?

Leave your opinion in the comments below and check out what some of our Facebook friends had to say:

Bonnie Muys Malzone: When mom is ready for one. In the end the pet becomes her "child!" —on Tinley Park Patch Facebook

Bonnie Here: ADOPT, don't shop. WWW.PETFINDER.com —on Orland Park Patch Facebook

Karen Facko: Depends on what kind of pet, and Christmas is always a terrible time to adopt a pet... So many are brought home only to be given away after the holiday because "it's too much work" —on Orland Park Patch Facebook

Gail Hoffman Bastas: Our dog's breeder said no family with kids under the age of 3 should have a puppy. They are too young to understand not to pull at them and when a puppy bites because it is scared they blame the dog. She also said not to give a pup at Christmas as it is too busy and stressful. We had to wait to get our puppy til After New Year's. Santa framed a picture of the pup and they opened presents of dog toys, leashes, etc —on New Lenox Patch Facebook

Art Wiggins Jr.: My dad made sure we had a family dog my entire life living with my parents. I do not think I was fully able to understand the responsibilities of caring for a dog until I was 12. I have wonderful memories of my childhood which includes our family canines. However, when I was 5 years old to 11 I had no sole responsibilities toward the care of our dogs.

If a dog is a Christmas present for a young one, please understand the responsibility to care for that dog is the same as caring for a toddler for at least 10 years. —on Homewood-Flossmoor Patch Facebook

Frank J Casella: Its not about the age of the child, but how much you are a pack leader to the dog and it having the right temperament around children. a good way to test and train for temperament is to bring the dog through AKC Canine Good Citizen certification. This also can lower your home insurance rates depending on the breed. Most people buy a new puppy forgetting that it turns into a dog ... a rescue with a good temperament is the best dog to have because when you love them with leadership they know the difference. A dog provides unconditional love, something most of us humans need to learn. —on Homewood-Flossmoor Patch Facebook

Renee Boerema Covert: Kindergarten. I am all for animal activism and I have been involved in rescue. I see nothing wrong with parents getting a dog/cat for a 5 or six yr old. That pet should be able to live in the family until the child is grown. Most dogs 13-15 years and cats up to 18-20! Whole family responsibility. —on Homewood-Flossmoor Patch Facebook

Shari Cartwright Schmidt: It depends on what you want the children to do. Our girls were seven when we adopted our Siberian Husky from the Animal Welfare League. They were old enough to understand how to play with him, not to pull his tail, to feed him, etc. They are not old enough to walk him. A Husky is a great family dog, but we knew the parameters going in. Way too many parents say things like, "The kids said they'd take care of the dog." They get an animal believing that their children will do all (or most) of the work. If you get a dog you have another child. —on Palos Patch Facebook

Crystal Foss Gough: When your ready to make a lifetime commitment, not just when convenient. —on Oak Forest Patch Facebook

Kelly McDonald: In our house the FAMILY gets a pet and they learn the responsibilities that go with it. They help clean cages and give baths. They now want to help and take care of them —on Oak Forest Patch Facebook


lala December 11, 2012 at 12:24 PM
It's a huge responsibility and financial commitment which is very rewarding. The adults in the home bear the burden, not the children. I think it is great for a child to grow up with a pet! Teaches responsibility, compassion and the rewards are huge. There are many local shelters that have loving pets looking for homes. Most are already trained, have shots, have been spayed and are in great health.
Denise Du Vernay December 11, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Petfinder.com! That's where I found my lovely ragdoll.

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