Thirty percent of Australian households own one or more pets. While in some countries families don’t have enough to feed their children, Australians spend more money on pet accessories in all but three other countries.
We do indeed live in the lucky country.
Despite the tough economic times, market research company WSL indicates that 81 percent of people are spending the same amount on their pets, but are cutting expenses in other areas of their household budgets. Why?
There has been a change in attitude and sentiments toward animals. Most pet owners now consider their pet to be a member of the family. More people are becoming aware of the health benefits of owning pets. Having a constant loyal and affectionate companion, helps reduce stress and lower blood pressure. The simple act of taking our pet for a walk provides fitness for us as well as our pet, and it is believed that the greater psychological balance bought by the companionship of a loving animal lowers the risk of heart disease.
Keeping pets is also a good way of teaching children about responsibility. I’m a firm believer in children sharing the responsibility of pet ownership with their parents. Children learn by observing the way we do things, they need to see their parents actively involved in caring for and enjoying the pet so they can emulate that behaviour.
A child who observes his parent researching how to take care of a pet, prior to purchasing it, is learning to value their pet even before it arrives home. A child whose parent takes the time to explain the relevance of the five freedoms and how they relate to their pet, will make an excellently well informed pet carer. Unfortunately many parents buy their children a pet and think that’s their part done, it is now the child’s responsibility to feed clean and care for the pet.
Usually we bring our children up the same way we were brought up. As attitudes towards animals change we may find that the way we cared for our pets when we were young lacked a proper understanding of the animal’s needs, and some adjustments may be in order. There is far more information available now for a potential pet owner.
The RSPCA has a guide called the Five Freedoms for Animals which when applied to any pet will increase their standard of comfort. The DPI has codes of conducts for the keeping of many different types of pet, and the internet is rife with all sorts of information, so there is no excuse for not being fully informed on what your pet needs to keep it healthy and happy.
The Five Freedoms is such a magnificent piece of work that I believe it should also be implemented in parenting practices. It has helped to raise the standard of living for many animals but sadly there are many children who are treated like some pets once were, and in some families still are.