Teaching children about pets

By jennifer hampton

A famous quote by Caroline Earle White says, “Teach a child not to be cruel to animals and you are teaching him one of the fundamentals of human conduct.” At Huntingdon County Humane Society we wholeheartedly agree. Raising a child who is compassionate toward animals isn’t as difficult as you might think. There are numerous and simple ways to incorporate this life lesson of human conduct into your daily lives.

One of the best ways to raise an animas-compassionate child is by raising them in a household that has pets. Living in a home with pets lowers your children’s risk of developing allergies, it teaches them to treat others kindly, and it helps them create a meaningful, lifelong bond with animals. In addition, it teaches your children the proper way to care for a pet by showing them how to be considerate and responsible pet owners. It also provides lessons about life, sickness, death and caring for others by putting their pets needs above their own.

Let your child become involved in the routine care of their pet by having them go along to their pet’s veterinary appointments. Young children have a tendency to worry about things that they don’t know or understand and their pet’s vet appointment may be one of those worries. For example, they may see their precious kitty balk at the idea of getting into the cat carrier, and then associate the veterinarian with this fear. As a result, these beliefs may lead to misgivings about providing proper veterinary care for their pet in the future. By involving your kids in their pet’s veterinary appointments they will see exactly what happens at those visits. Older children can also play a role by helping to keep their pet calm while at the vet office, thus making the entire experience better for you, your pet and even the veterinary team. By allowing your children to take some of the responsibility of keeping the family pets healthy, children form stronger bonds with their pets and develop a deeper sense of compassion for animals and for humans.

Having your child see and participate in routine pet care is a great first step toward raising awareness and compassion for animals. But there are many other ways you can get your child involved with animals even if you don’t have pets.

If your children are hoping to adopt a pet of their very own but you’re worried about whether or not they’re up for the responsibility, why not check out the volunteer opportunities at HCHS. Any child or young adult who is under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult when visiting but there are still many ways they can help and learn at our animal shelter. They can socialize with the dogs and cats, collect supplies from our shelter wish list, bake items for our bake sale events, collect recyclables and donate the funds to us, and they can even save up their spare change to donate to our spay/neuter fund.

Another way to raise awareness and compassion in your children is by fostering animals who are waiting to be adopted. Fostering help give adoptable pets a safe home, regular socialization with humans and other animals, and a break from the shelter environment. When you foster, your child will see firsthand the kind of care that pet needs on a daily basis. They may also learn about some of the reasons animals are abandoned and why spaying and neutering is so important. It is a great way to help animals in need, and the costs involved in fostering a pet are covered by our shelter. Getting children involved with these types of activities can help them see just how much work a pet really is.


Shelter Scoop is a monthly

column provided by the Huntingdon County Humane Society.