One of the top reasons for surrendering a pet to a shelter is because a baby is on the way. However, a new baby does not mean you have to “get rid of the dog or cat.” In fact, pets can benefit a child’s development in a number of ways. With proper introduction, boundaries and supervision, your new baby and your pets can certainly coexist.
When your pet has been used to having all of your time and attention, it is natural that some jealousy may occur when you bring home the baby. During the transition of welcoming your new baby into the household, just setting aside even a few minutes a day to spend quality time with your pet can go a long way.
Just like babies, dogs and cats are creatures of habit; therefore, keeping the routine as normal as possible will eliminate acting out after the baby is home. Also, allowing your pet to explore the baby’s nursery, and exposing him to the smells of baby items such as powders, lotions and diapers, will help your pet become familiar with the new smells and surroundings that come with a new baby.
Once your child is mobile, it is crucial to supervise all interactions between your child and the family pets. This is a great opportunity to teach your child boundaries and the importance of being gentle with the animals. For example, a child can provoke an otherwise calm, peaceful dog, simply because they were unsupervised or the parents had not given them proper instructions. As the mother of a 4-year-old child and three small dogs, I have learned the art of protecting the child from the dogs as well as protecting the dogs from the child. In my experience, it is has been much more of the latter.
Pets provide physical, social and emotional benefits to children. As your child gets older, he will enjoy opportunities to help feed, brush and walk the dog. Pets provide a natural social icebreaker for making new friends and seem to have a way of helping a shy child develop social relationships. Having a pet in the home is not only an enjoyable experience for children, but it also provides a great way to teach responsibility. Just remember to keep pet-oriented tasks age-appropriate, as this is essential for the safety of both the child and the pet.
PET ADOPTION: Animal Rescue New Orleans will be at the Palmer Park Arts Market with adoptable dogs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Palmer Park is at the corner of South Carrollton and South Claiborne avenues. For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
PET ADOPTION and Bake Sale : LA/SPCA will hold a neighborhood pet adoption event and bake sale from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Clearview Mall, 4436 Veterans Blvd. LA/SPCA adoption counselors and volunteers will be on hand to help with the selection process. For information, call (504) 368-5191 or visit la-spca.org.
LOST OR FOUND PETS: In Orleans Parish, you can send a photo, description of your pet, date lost/found and your contact information to email@example.com. In Jefferson Parish, send to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, and in St. Bernard Parish, send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. Contact ARNO at arno. email@example.com, call (504) 571-1900 or visit www. animalrescueneworleans.org.