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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:

Betty J. Kids at any age can have a pet as long as there is an adult or parent in the house with primary responsibility for the pet. Otherwise I agree with the rest. There is no good age for kids to get a pet and never for Christmas. via Joliet Patch

Rene F. If a parent wants their children to experience a pet, then I think they should get one with the intention of the children assisting in the care. Most kids have to be reminded to do the chores/tasks they don't find fun, so I don't think it's fair to a pet to put his well-being in the hands of a child. If a child had that kind of accountability then us parents wouldn't really be as necessary. Pets need to eat on a schedule and have regular potty breaks. If you put that on a kid, you're setting up the situation to fail and the pet to get blamed for causing arguments, when he is innocent in all of this. I take care of the pets in my house and hope that my kids learn from my behavior, so that when they are grown and running their own household they've had a good role model. They do assist with the pets when I'm out of town and do a great job at it. A pet should bring joy to a family, not regret and resentment. via Oswego Patch

Bessi G. Puppies and kittens are not products or presents. Christmas is not the time to give a gift of a living soul...that is exactly why the month of March is such a busy time for shelters. The Christmas puppies are dropped off because the kids lost interest or it was too much work. Sponsoring a dog or cat at animal control is a much better idea....millions of healthy dogs and cats are euthanized each year and if they are sponsored, a rescue will be more likely to pull them. Above all...never purchase a puppy at a pet store...they all buy from puppy mills and when you buy, the mother is forced to pump out more. via Plainfield Patch

Gail P-K The right age depends on how much work the parent wants to do. A 3 year old can have a puppy if Mom or dad wants to shadow every task for a while. via Romeoville Patch

Ashley G. Any age is a good age, but SHOULD NOT be in impulse buy or as a present. March is the busiest time for animal shelters because of the cute little puppies that people bought for Christmas and then no longer wanted or lost interest. If you are looking for animal this holiday season please...ADOPT, DONT SHOP! via Montgomery Patch

Shane K. When they are living on their own. via Shorewood Patch

Irene Z. If you do get a dog, go to the shelter make their Christmas wish come true, as well. Getting a dog is like having a child. You cant leave them if you get sick of them, so really think about it. Animals are wonderful; just make sure your ready. via Channahon-Minooka Patch

Kerry R. 25 when they're out of college and have their own place. Because otherwise, it's the parents' pet. via Yorkville Patch


Liz Copeland December 11, 2012 at 03:42 PM
We all know how stressful and hectic the holidays can be;therefore, this is not the time to bring in a furry new family member. Unlike all those toys that get played with on Christmas day only and then forgotten, a pet needs and wants attention,training and love. Adopting a pet should be a family decision, a shared responsibility, but one that both parents are willing to accept. Local shelters are filled with bad owner spontaneous decisions. Bringing a new furry friend is an emotional and financial responsibility as well as a time commitment. Our pets, who gives us unconditional love ,deserve the same from their human companions. So NO, now is not the time.
Dave Ruggles December 13, 2012 at 02:05 PM
It all depends on the commitment you are willing to make. If you acknowledge and understand the care necessary and are willing to make sure the new pet gets it, what does it matter when you bring a pet in the house. I am sorry other owners didn't act in a certain way, but how is that relevant to anyone else's decision. If you have done the proper research and understand all the issues, and have the ability around that time to care for the pet, why not. Plus, considering the time off many people get around the holidays that can help new pet owners be more available. I am sorry about all the March stuff, but that has no bearing on whether my family is ready or not. I think you are either ready or not.


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