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the care of the pet — making sure it is fed, walked and loved — for as long as it is in your family.


Create a budget that includes the actual cost of the pet, plus veterinarian fees and all upkeep expenses. If a family mem- ber is allergic to dogs or cats, educate yourselves on the breeds of both species that are less allergenic. Your local vet is an excellent resource for your questions. The local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or a specific rescue organization should have pets to choose among that have been screened, vetted and vaccinated. You are the instructor when it comes to pet care. Show your children how to handle and respect the animal. Also, teach your kids the ani- mal’s signs of contentment, hunger, irrita- tion, the need for quiet time and affection. Once children see the subtle signs of their pet’s comfort and/or discomfort level, they will learn to respect the animal’s space and needs.


 Teach your children about maintaining your pet’s well-being, as well as about their own safety when they are with or near animals.


Make sure your pet is up-to-date on all vaccinations.


Have a veterinarian examine all new pets to ensure they are healthy.


Instruct your child on how to handle and pick up your pet.


Never tease an animal or pull on any of its body parts.


No one should mistreat, abuse or torture any animal. If this does occur, notify your


healthcare provider so the appropriate 


interventions can be initiated.


Never bother an animal while it’s eating, sleeping or taking care of its young.


Do not take a toy or bone away from an animal playing with it.


Never leave an infant or child alone with a pet.


Respect an animal’s need to be alone or away from people it does not know or social situations that it fears.


Do not pet or play with strange animals.


Do not make pets of wild animals. Do not feed, touch or bring a wild animal home.


Wash your hands with soap and water after handling any pet.


Remember that all dogs need training, which builds a bond of obedience and trust. If you have difficulty training your dog, ask your vet for a referral to a local trainer. Roughhousing or other aggressive games with dogs such as tug of war may create more behavioral problems.


Spay/neuter all dogs and cats, which helps lessen aggression.


Always ask a dog owner permission to pet the dog. Let the dog sniff you, and


pet the dog gently on its body. Avoid the head, face and tail — areas that dogs may find threatening.


Never run past a dog not secured.


 If a dog is threatening, remain calm and stay still like a statue. Avoid direct eye contact. Stand still until the dog leaves, or back away slowly. If attacked, curl up into a ball and cov-


er your face with your hands and arms. If bitten, contact your provider immedi- ately. All dog bites need to be attended to right away. Clean the bites with soap and water as soon as possible. Contact the dog’s owner and verify the dog’s im- munization status (especially rabies) with its vet.





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