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Why Pets Help Kids
by Bill Strickland
Children love their pets—and for good reason.
Like most parents, we counted on
Creatures both large and small teach, delight and
the commonsense idea that having
animals around would help teach our
offer a special kind of companionship.
daughter responsibility and maybe,
empathy. But, we’ve also learned that
the presence of animals helps foster
E
veryone knows that kids Manufacturers Association. That fi gure
love animals. They permeate dwarfs the toy business ($23 billion)
her emotional, cognitive, social and
childhood media. In real life, and candy industry ($24 billion).
physical development.
an estimated 4 in 10 children begin Because my wife and I grew up
Plenty of solid evidence backs up
life in a family with domestic animals, companioned by animals, we are
such observations. Following are fi ve
and as many as 90 percent of all delighted with our daughter’s natural
reasons to let the fur fl y in your home.
kids live with a pet at some point zeal and passion for critters. Our
during their childhood, says Gail F. current menagerie includes one
Pets Aid Learning
Melson, Ph.D., professor emeritus German shepherd, one Yorkipoo,
We often fi nd our daughter curled up
of developmental studies at Purdue three cats, three goats, a freshwater
in her bed or lying in a den of blankets
University and the author of Why the aquarium and a tank of Sea-Monkeys,
in a quiet nook of the house, reading
Wild Things Are: Animals in the Lives a hybrid species of brine shrimp.
to one or more of her cats. She pets
of Children. Living in the woods, we’re paid an
them as she reads, stops to show them
The amount of money we spend endless series of cameo appearances
pictures and asks them questions. She
on pets has nearly doubled in the past by turtles, mice, moles, frogs, toads,
even reassures them during scary parts
decade, rising to more than $38 billion, tadpoles, ducks, geese, slugs and
of the story.
according to the American Pet Products other wildlife.
Educators like Mary Renck Jalongo,
22
Brevard/Indian River
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