In many homes the pets are introduced by the children, who understandably cannot resist the thought of an interesting new companion in their lives. Yet, when young children ask for pets and still more pets, they are not taking into account all the responsibilities involved. These concern the parents, and it is they who must decide which animals, if any, are suitable pets for the family.
Is it, for instance, humane to keep a bird in a cage, or a goldfish in a bowl? Is it right to keep any gregarious animal alone? Should we continue to import as pets, such exotic animals as tortoises? Is it fair to shut up a dog all day in a house vaca ted by the whole family? Is it responsible to keep an uncastrated torn cat who may sire dozens of unwanted kittens in the neighbourhood? It is not only the children who fail to visualize just how much a puppy may grow. When it does, who will exercise it? Most dogs need long walks every day. How would the family manage with a bitch on heat or a cat with fleas? Who will dig the goldfish pond and maintain it afterwards? Who will care for the tropical fish? Will caged birds have sufficient space? What about cleaning out the rabbits and the guinea pigs?
The most obvious costs, initial housing and feeding bills, are only a proportion of the total sum involved. In particular, veterinary fees must be expected, not only for illnesses and accidents, but also for vaccinations, booster inoculations, neutering and worming, and for old and suffering animals.
Since an owner is liable in law for third party damages if his animal is responsible for an accident, adequate insurance cover should be bought.
Furthermore, owners are legally responsible for ensuring that their pets never suffer unnecessarily.