It is important to be responsible with attending to the needs of pets. They should not receive the same treatment as babies, however.
Medical Advisor Lucía Náder, psychologist
It is becoming more common to see people find the comfort of a family in their pets. Instead of saying that they have a dog or cat, they say they have “children” and that they are their “parents.” It becomes strange, however, when people become out of touch. During a conversation of people discussing their little ones, for example, they might pull out a picture of their “little one,” who is much hairier than the average human and has more teeth then a grown child. This little one is very cute, of course, but it is an animal. See also Pets can protect children from allergies
The question remains: can dogs or cats be children? The owners may answer “yes” to this question. After all, how couldn’t they? If they provide them with food, sustenance and even give them blankets and a corner on the bed on cold nights. But there is a contradiction here: their owners own them, but nobody owns a child. It is therefore important to understand the responsibilities of having your own child.
You cannot deny that pets have become new fixed members of the family. According to psychologist Lucía Náder, however, having a pet is not the same as having a child, “Some people ask whether they can support having a pet, but why don’t they do the same with a child? While a pet needs extra attention, whether it be a dog or cat, it does not require the same level of responsibility in regard to the affection, education, child-rearing and financial needs of having a child.
For any father or mother, seeing children grow up healthy, well, happy and living a decent life is more than a dream. Being there to watch them go to college, for example, is a big challenge that requires certain financial conditions and encouragement. With pets, there are no risks involved. Parents are aware, however, that if they raise their child in a dysfunctional family, the chances of them engaging in unsafe behavior outside of the house are very high. The consequences of a poor upbringing, or of an inconsistent, non-value-based education can affect humans, but not dogs or cats.”
Careful with responsibilities
While parents with children have a commitment to their material welfare, more than anything, they have a moral duty: to raise a child, is to form both a citizen and a good human being.
This is why religious beliefs and ethics are instilled in children, as it helps them know the difference between good and bad. Also, from when they are little they are taught what they should and should not do: from norms on how to take care of and protect themselves, such as eating well in order to nourish themselves and grow; to behaviors they should practice in order to live in society, such as not lying or taking what does not belongs to them; and living together in ways that involve treating others well. Standards and values are just as important as rights and responsibilities. In contrast, however, do we teach cats to not lie, not steal, or to be honest?
Náder, our specialist, explains that families have changed over the last two decades. Men and women have often chosen to develop their personal and professional lives instead of having children, which are a time investment. This is why they have turned to animals; as in urban Colombia, animals have always been seen as pets, but in the countryside, they have always helped with hunting or providing protection.
With the new family models of today, pets are a responsibility, which is the common factor between the two. Some couples that separate even take turns taking care of their dog or cat, or schedule visits to look after their “child.”
In conclusion, it is okay to love your pets, but the recommendation is to not humanize them, meaning they should not be treated the same as when a baby comes into their lives. This does not mean, however, that pets should not be cared for as well.
The confusion of considering family pets as children can be fun at first, but humanizing them changes their ability to act as animals, and everything that comes along with that.
The negative side of thinking they are human:
Pedro Vargas Pinto, a professor and research from the Veterinary Medicine program at the University of La Salle, explains that when pets are treated as humans, “…they lose their freedom and their ability to behave as animals, affecting how they socialize and establish hierarchies.” This can also lead to them having behaviors such as being overprotective or not getting enough exercise, which makes them susceptible to disease. It is important to provide a clean and ventilated place for them at home, feed them well, be sure that they have water and allow them to interact with other animals. Also, the professor remarks, “…be responsible with health-related matters by taking them to the veterinarian regularly.”