As a child, I always wanted a dog. I love animals and constantly asked my parents to give me a dog. My first pets were two beautiful parrots, Pico and Pica. Then I persuaded my parents to get me a cat since cats do not need so much care as dogs. That’s how my cat Tani came to be part of the family. After a while, I finally talked my mother and father into getting me Jacky, a beautiful dog, half Labrador Retriever and half Dachshund. We could not keep Jacky home for a long time, but that is another story. My current pet, Kika, is the sweetest Border Collie ever.

I can honestly say that pets have played a very special role in my life. Surely, I would not be who I am now if these animals had not been there in my early years. They nurtured my love for and interest in Veterinary Medicine, a field in which I am now pursuing a degree. But I am not the only one who loves animals. I am sure that many agree that children who own pets have a better development, and here are some reasons: First, God himself created animals to keep us company and rejoice with us. We should therefore love and respect them.

Animals help children to learn and practice human values, those values that are clearly forgotten by so many nowadays. Responsibility, empathy, respect, and unconditional love are values that children learn more easily with their pets’ help. Responsibility and empathy imply that pets are more than just beautiful, furry little balls to play with. You have to feed them, give them water to drink, and take them to the vet. If your pet is a dog, you have to take him out for a walk, bathe him, and so on. If parents help their children to perform these tasks, they will develop a high sense of responsibility as well as sensitivity to the needs of others.

Another important virtue that I mentioned is respect. Children may see the animal as a toy, but they will soon understand that it is a living being and, as such, needs its space, has feelings, and, just like the human being, has preferences. And the most important thing is unconditional love: children will learn to love pets as the animals themselves love the children.

Scientific research demonstrates the benefits of having pets. Children with pets have greater self-esteem, cognitive development, and social skills. Pets help children to be physically active, which is one of the most important needs in our lives. Physical activity keeps us young and healthy, as sister Ellen G. White wrote.

It is proven that people who own pets live healthier lives overall because the bodies of pet owners create more antibodies. On the other hand, according to RAND researchers, factors such as race, living in owned or leased housing, and parents’ health negate the differences between children who own pets and those who do not. However, I still believe that having a pet is a good decision from many other points of view. So, the next time you are given the opportunity to own a pet, if you have the right conditions at home, I highly recommend the beautiful experience of pet ownership. Go ahead. Give your children that cat, dog, or bunny they have always wanted!

by María Giner
High School Student | Italy

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