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Can’t we all just get along?

03/13/2010

Ripley and Johnny, the Cats

In a previous life I did communications, PR and management for an animal shelter.  It was a fascinating job that let me experience the best and worst of humanity.

Sometimes people who adopted a pet are no longer able to care for them.  Sometimes it’s a valid reason and sometimes people are just lazy or looking to hot potato a problem.

“We just had a child and don’t have time”, was

Wilson and Abby, the Dogsthe main reason that folks gave when they had to surrender a pet.  I totally understand the time required in raising a child.  However if you really want to keep the pet it can be done.

Prior to Baby Mojo coming home we brought a blanket that had his scent to the dogs.  That didn’t seem to have any bearing on how they treated him when he arrived. 

Abby, the female black retriever was very interested and had to be beside Baby Mojo as much as possible.  Whenever he cried, Abby had to be there, it was very cute.  Wilson, the golden retriever showed affection, but didn’t seek out Baby Mojo.

We knew that our dogs were very affectionate and had been very well socialized.  Prior to bringing home your child ask yourself honestly, how well socialized is my dog?  You can socialize a dog, but that takes time.  If you start early, take your dog to the park and doggie daycares that will help with their socialization.  If it’s an advanced socialization issue I’d consult a trainer. 

  • Aggression is a totally different issue.  If you know that you have an aggressive dog then they have to be dealt with immediately.  An aggressive dog is not only a worry for your own home, but for the community around you.

Dogs may act out with children because they are scared, excited, sick or protecting their property. 

If you’re not sure about how your dog is with children try taking their toys away.  Was the dog apprehensive, calm, scared, tail wagging or did they growl?  How is your dog when they’re scared?  What scares them?  You know how your dog behaves and probably have an idea of how they’ll be around children.

  • You parents should never, and I mean never leave your child alone with your dog.  

Some dog owners will be in denial about how social, friendly or just how big of a liability they have in their house.  It seems odd to state that as it’s obvious to us, however, if you have any reservations about going to a house because of their dogs you should make that sentiment known to the home owners or do not visit.

Cats are a different matter.  They’ll most likely hide from the child. 

Our cats came out from under the bed occasionally at first and now they walk around like they own the place.

We still make time for all of our pets and it works out great.  Having a child does not automatically mean that you have to get rid of your pet.  A cat or dog can be a healthy addition to your family by teaching your child basic responsibilities.

Ultimately you are responsible for the pet though.  If your child wants a pet and you’re getting the pet ‘for them’, remember that you’ll be doing all the work.    Your child will certainly assist to some degree, be it getting their food or basic tasks that make your child part of the pet experience. 

Rehoming or surrendering a pet is also a very difficult thing to do.  There is no magic barn in the country for your cat and if your dog is the greatest in the world why aren’t you keeping them?  If you surrender your pet to a local animal control office they could be euthanized after 3-7 business days.  Humane societies are most often full and can’t accept pets on your schedule.

It’s no easy choice if you have to surrender a pet.  Unless the pet is aggressive, you can make the pet and your children get along in the same house.  If you’ve run the gamut on ideas and you’re having a problem, chat with your local humane society or a trainer.

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