February is Responsible Pet Owners Month. A pet is an animal kept for companionship and enjoyment, as opposed to wild animals, livestock, laboratory animals, working animals, or sport animals, which are kept for economic or productive reasons.
The most popular pets are noted for their loyal or playful characteristics or for their attractive appearance. Pets also generally seem to provide their owners with important health benefits such as relieving stress. There is now a medically approved class of “therapy animals,” mostly dogs, that are trained to visit confined humans.
Simply walking a dog can provide both the owner and the dog with exercise, fresh air, and social interaction.
However, one area of concern for animal protection advocates is a pet overpopulation in the United States. According to the Humane Society of the United States, 3-4 million dogs and cats are euthanized each year in the country, with many more confined to cages in shelters.
This situation is created by non-neutered animals reproducing, and people intentionally breeding animals.
A particularly problematic combination of recent economic hardships combined with a love of animals contributes to this problem in parts of the rural United States. In an average year, a fertile cat can produce three litters of kittens, with up to 4 to 6 kittens in each litter. Based on these numbers, one female cat and her offspring could produce up to 420,000 cats over a seven year period if not neutered.
There are also major overpopulation problems with other pet species, such as birds and rabbits. Local humane societies, SPCAs, and other animal protection organizations urge people to neuter their pets and to adopt animals from animal shelters instead of purchasing them from breeders or pet stores.
Students should write a report of at least 100 words or a presentation of at least five slides. Students should use the Pathfinder below to cite at least three resources. Students should address the following essential questions for critical thinking (you can create or substitute others):
- What is your favorite pet and why?
- What are the benefits of owning a pet?
- What are the hazards and responsibilities of owning a pet?
- What is a pet you would NOT like to own and why?
Using Kids InfoBits Type “Pets” in the Search box > click Search or select Animals > Pets & Farm Animals