Parenting: Picking the right kind of pet

PHILADELPHIA - December 22, 2012

Even more so, do you have great trepidation about introducing an animal to your household? This Parenting Perspective is about helping you make the right decisions.

Josh Oyola's family has nine dogs at their home in the city's Feltonville section.

He may only be 2 ½ , but Josh is a big help.

"He's a big help in feeding them in the morning when we wake up. I let him open the dogs' cages, so that he can help let them out in the morning," said Jamie Cooper.

Rule number one when selecting a pet may be the most difficult:

"One of the things that you want to do when you are looking for the right pet is kind of remove all biases, all opinions that you may think are the right pet for your home," said Angela Messer, PSPCA.

The Pennsylvania SPCA says look for engaging animals that want to be around children, and spend the most time in the front of their cages.

Once you bring your choice home, allow the new pet to explore, but in a confined space like your kitchen.

When it comes to your children, best to take that slow too.

"You want to be very realistic in what your child's responsibilities are going to be when caring for a pet. Every age group is a little bit different," said Messer.

Toddlers can begin with responsibilities like hair brushing and putting away pet toys. Children ages 4-7 may be allowed to handle feedings.

Older children can go ahead and starting walking pets, but still keep an eye on them.

"You always have to make sure it's like their chore, just like making their bed. Still have to make sure that bed is made. Still got to make sure that dog got fed. Still got to make sure that cat got water," said Messer.

The PSPCA says the holidays are a wonderful time to adopt a pet and surprise your family.

Just have a plan, and prepare for a whole new set of needs in your household.

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