For The Children Weekly Column

Pets Help Families but Be Wary of Them as Surprise Gifts

December 20, 2021


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – “For the Children” Weekly Column

Contact: Joe Dorman, CEO – Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy

Telephone: (405) 833-1117


As we approach Christmas, I wish the best to each of you. I look forward to seeing family over the weekend ahead and spending some quality time with my dog Rainy.

Pets are a joyous part of countless families. As long as I can remember, we have had pets in my family. It was usually a mix of cats, dogs, birds, and fish growing up. The cats and dogs that were a part of my formative years still hold a special place in my heart.

While many might wish to give a puppy or kitten as a gift, there are essential things to consider. Here are nine reasons to consider why you should not give your kids a pet for the holidays and choose a gift certificate for a pet instead:

  • Holidays are overwhelming, and they will be overwhelming for your new pet.
  • Holiday decorations can be dangerous to curious puppies or kittens.
  • Pets are living animals and not short-term toys; children must understand that.
  • You must always supervise kids and pets; holidays make that task tougher.
  • Your kids may not be ready for the responsibility of a pet.
  • Pets change lives and require a family adjustment.
  • Pets must have good chemistry with owners, so take time to find a good fit.
  • You need to ensure no one in your family is allergic to the pet before taking it home.

Instead of a live pet, consider giving children a gift certificate for a shelter or an “adoption kit” with a leash, pet bed, and other pet supplies. This strategy will ease holiday stress. Plus, your family can spend time picking out a pet together. Even with the responsibilities, here is why pets make a positive addition to the family:

  • Research shows children who grow up in homes with pets have more robust immune systems and are less likely to develop childhood allergies and asthma
  • Having a pet teaches a child responsibility. Looking after pets also helps children develop empathy for others.
  • Caring for pets helps with learning, as research has shown students feel more confident reading to animals.
  • Pets offer comfort and companionship to kids.
  • Having a pet helps build family bonds as animals are often the focus of family activities, from walking dogs together to grooming or feeding pets.
  • Having pets helps develop a healthy lifestyle for their young owners, encouraging them to be outside and running around, which also helps with well-being.
  • Having a pet helps ward off feelings of loneliness and isolation, keeping depression at bay.
  • Although most parents want to protect their children from the world’s cruelties, having pets allows kids to understand and learn about the cycle of life.
  • Most importantly, pets are fun!

If you are considering a pet, please look to shelters and give a rescue animal a forever home.

I am much better off having a dog in my life. I realized this even more over the past week as my pup has been in the intensive care unit with a blood issue. Thank you to Neel Veterinary and Blue Pearl in Oklahoma City for their care of Rainy. I would appreciate any kind thoughts and prayers as he works through his health concerns. Friends like these will also mean a world of difference for your children.