Living Breathing Creatures: Local vet reminds parents pets are not toys

25 Sep 2023 12:37pm
Parents need to teach their kids how to handle such fragile animals, says local veterinarian Dr Salehatul Khuzaimah M. Ali. (PHOTO 123rf)
Parents need to teach their kids how to handle such fragile animals, says local veterinarian Dr Salehatul Khuzaimah M. Ali. (PHOTO 123rf)

Children and pets can be a cute combination but there seems to be a lack of understanding, or empathy even, that pets are not toys. When a family decides to take in an animal into the home, it is important to remember that a pet is a living, breathing creature and not a play thing.

In an Instagram video uploaded by local veterinarian Dr Salehatul Khuzaimah M. Ali @drima_vet on the proper treatment of animals, she said all parents should teach their kids how to handle animals, especially small ones if they were to be taken in as pets.

Pets are not toys that can be simply put away and forgotten, she said, adding that they require full care and must be fed and given water daily. Not only that, she said most pets must also be trained and need regular exercise such as walks, as well as cage cleaning for those placed in cages and grooming if they primarily live indoors.

When children receive a pet especially as gifts, more often that not, these responsibilities were not taken into consideration. Children and most parents do not realise the commitment required in caring for a pet.

Here she talks about the pet-care awareness.

Teach children how to handle animals

When bringing in a pet into a home, parents need to be mindful in teaching the children basic rules around animals, which will protect both the animal and the child, especially if the animal was fragile such as hamsters or fish.

Responding to a video uploaded by by a parent, which showed a child playing and manhandling his pet hamsters by pushing them down a slide, Dr Salehatul said this was not the correct way to treat or handle small animals, even with the excuse of therapy.

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The parents had said in the video that the pets were used as a therapy method, and helped to lessen the child's tantrums.

Dr Salehatul said parents should be more responsible and teach their children the proper handling of pets, especially small fragile ones.

"I know kids will be kids, but you as a mother, you must teach your kids how to handle small animals, which are very fragile." she said

Dr Salehatul said children should be made to understand that a pet was a living creature that needs to be cared for respected, and that animals too have needs and feelings and that they were living creatures that rely on us for love and care.

Salehatul also advised all parents to constantly observe and warn or reprimand their kids if they handle their pet animals in a rough way.

"Parents need to teach their kids how to handle such fragile animals. I have kids too; if my children are a little rough with animals, I will scold them. I'll tell them the right way to play with animals," she said.

According to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) website, animals are to be treated or petted gently with no pulling, tugging and they should not be approached for behind.

An animals, eyes, ears, nose, mouth and genitals are also no touch zones, and children should also be taught not to provoke or tease an animal. Half of all attacks on children by their pets were considered provoked.

Animals are not presents to giveaway

Dr Salehatul said parents or adults in general need to understand when getting pets for their children, it needs to be considered as part of the family.

"A pet needs to be well taken care of and not be one of the child's whims, a child needs to prove that he or she is serious about caring for a pet. Whatever reason you want to present an animal as a gift or as therapy to lessen your children's tantrum is not acceptable. Not all animals are suitable for all situations.

"Please don't give animals as gifts because they are not suitable, especially for young kids because they are so young, they don't know how to take good and proper care of their pet animals," she said in the video posted on a her Instragram.

Dr Salehatul said children should not blamed for this as they do not know the resposnibility of caring for the children the children only if they don't know the responsibility of caring for their pets.

"Pets are a lifelong commitment," she said.

Dr Salehatul also said that parents need to bear in mind that the best reasons to realise pets wre not toys was 'safety'; the safety of your child and of the pet. While the pair may look adorable together, they can put each other at risk.

For example the cats can scratch, bite, or knock down a small child while catnips was unsafe if placed in the mouth. Other small pets can also cause injuries to children, even hamsters. Likewise, children can also accidentally hurt their pets. That’s why it was important for adults to supervise the interactions between the animal and child.

"Better yet, stop the culture of making animals as gifts. They are alive! Not a lifeless doll. And if something happens to your child, like an injury from the animal, don't cast away the animal with the excuse of it injuring your child

"Prevention is better than cure, so its better not to gift a pet unless a child is able to handle it as its a lifelong commitment," she said.

So next time you think of getting pets for your child, nieces, nephews or even adult friends - can they give the proper love and care for this creature? Will they be committed it? If you feel doubtful, please reconsider giving them non-living being!