New Study Points to Keeping Pets in Household with a BabyPublished July 16, 2012
A new study published in the medical journal Pediatrics suggests that having a pet in the house with a new baby may help make the baby healthier.
Too bad this study didn’t come out a couple of weeks earlier when I was trying to find a new home for a yellow Lab a family wanted to get rid of because they just had a new baby and didn’t have time for their dog.
“Our baby has to be our priority right now,” wrote the mother in an email to me (and no, the baby did not have any medical condition that requires extraordinary care). It was simply a case of not researching a breed of dog that requires lots of attention and exercise and not planning for what to do when the couple started planning a family.
Giving up a pet because of the new baby is one of the most common reasons people give for abandoning a pet – or in the worst cases – euthanizing their pets.
Time commitment is one of the most common sub-reasons, along with the cat or dog scratching the baby or the unfounded fear that cats may smother babies in their cribs.
When I saw this couple posting their 1-year-old Lab on Facebook, I first refused to help. I think people need to start taking more responsibility and consider their current situation, their future plans and research the best animal that fits into their lifestyle. I don’t think they should be allowed off the hook so easily to just be able to re-home any pet they get on a whim.
My mid-life parents had three teenagers, my sick elderly grandmother and a 2-year-old German Shepherd/Collie mix named Smokey in an 800-square foot home when I was born. They did not abandon Smokey, who became the official guardian of my crib and constant childhood companion while I was growing up.
However, when the woman posted that she would take their dog to a high-kill shelter if they did not find her a home, I went to work, contacting an animal rescue in the area who eventually paired the unwanted canine with someone seeking a Lab.
The potential health benefit of kids having pets is only one of the reasons not to give up your pet when you have a baby.
Studies have shown that children with pets have less anxiety, are capable of more compassion and empathy, are outside more and get more exercise and learn responsibility of caring for another being at an earlier age.
So, the next time you hear of someone who wants to give up their pet because they had a baby, you might point them to this study. It may help them have a healthier child and may also teach the parents the meaning of “forever” too.
Do you know someone who has given up their pet when they had a baby? What was their reasoning?