FOR KIDS – Learning Pet Responsibilities

PBS Kids GO! It's My Life
Pets: Pet Responsibilities Even though having a pet can totally rock, it’s a big responsibility. More than big-it’s GIGANTIC, actually. Having a pet means the life and well-being of another living thing is in our hands.Of course, the biggest responsibility of all is LOVE. Our pets plan to love us forever, and the least we can do is return the favor. No matter how much we grow, change, or get really busy with stuff, we need to keep a place open in our heart for the animals who depend on us.But on top of that, caring for our animal pals can take a lot of time, money, and energy. You have to be committed, willing to work hard, and possibly make some compromises or sacrifices in order to be a good pet guardian. It’s not easy! There are so many things to consider when you’re a pet owner, such as:Your pet’s life span
Here’s the thing: you’re responsible for your pet for its entire life, not just the first few weeks or until your puppy grows into a dog. Can you commit to many years of care and love? Here’s the general life span for most pets:

  • Dogs and cats usually live 15-20 years
  • Animals like hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, guinea pigs, frogs, and fish have a life span that’s less than 5 years
  • Smaller birds like parakeets and canaries can live 15 to 20 years, and larger exotic birds like macaws and cockatoos can live 30 years or more!
  • Turtles (even box turtles) can live up to 50 years, while tortoises can make it to well over 100. Whoa!

How much time do you have?

Another important thing to consider is how much time you have every day to devote to the care of your pet. Pets can be pretty time-consuming.

Dogs need to be walked and exercised regularly, fed twice a day, groomed, and given plenty of attention. They may also need to be trained or taken to obedience classes. Cats require less time, but still need to be fed, groomed, and given plenty of love and play time. Birds, rodents, fish, and turtles require even less time, but you still need to schedule feedings and cleaning cages or tanks.

Think about your daily schedule and these questions:

  • How much time do you spend away from your house doing afterschool activities, lessons, or just hanging with friends?
  • Do you have a ton of homework every day?
  • Do you already have a lot of household chores or something you do to earn money?
  • Are you able to do all that and take care of a pet?
  • If you have to, would you be willing to give something up in order to give your pet the time it needs?

How much is that doggy in the window?

Taking care of a pet costs time-and MONEY! The cost of adopting or buying your pet is only the beginning. Remember, your pet requires:

  • Food
  • Supplies — like a cage, tank, bed, some kind of shelter, a litter box, and even toys
  • Health care — like regular check-ups, shots, and flea medicine
  • Licensing
  • Boarding or petsitting when your family goes away and can’t bring your pet
  • Training or obedience lessons, if you have a dog
  • Unexpected expenses like operations or other accident-related care

All of these things can be expensive, and the more high-maintenance your pet is, the higher these costs are likely to be.

Here’s what IML’ers had to say about the responsibility of having a pet:

Lillian, 13, has a Scottish Terrier that she feeds every day. She also makes sure he’s safe from poisonous items that could make him sick or small objects that he might choke on. Jessica, 13, says that along with food, water and cleaning, pets need a lot of love and attention-just like people.

And Cheyenne, 11, says it’s also important that her two guinea pigs, one cat, and one dog are taken to the vet for regular check-ups.
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