Choosing a pet

Are you ready to join the 60% of U.S. households that have at least one pet? 

How to start a home-based pet-sitting and dog-walking business
Cathy Vaughan.
Guilford, Ct : Globe Pequot Press, 2011.
Just fifteen years ago, "pet sitter" meant the kid down the street who helped feed pets when the neighbors traveled. Today, this fledgling field is fast becoming an established profession. Combining the appeal of working with animals, a viable customer base, and truly low start-up costs, it is for many people the ideal home-based business. And yet its "fun" aspects are often overshadowed by the daunting tasks of registering the business, purchasing insurance, and knowing what first steps to take and how to continue from there. With a simple, step-by-step format, How to Start a Home-Based Pet Sitting Business guides aspiring pet sitters from the dreaming stage to the doing stage more clearly and comprehensively than any such book to date.
Your child's first pet : a parent's guide to ensuring success
by Amy Brayfield ; with a foreword by Debbie McKnight.
Ocala, Fla. : Atlantic Pub. Group, c2011.
Every child wants a pet - from the moment they first lay eyes on a furry little kitten or puppy, they probably want one for themselves and yet the process of getting and teaching your child how to raise that pet can be quite complex. However, the experience can be enormously useful in teaching them life skills that will one day help them better understand responsibility and proper care for others. But, how do you balance all of that in those first crucial days? This book provides a detailed walkthrough of how best to acclimate a child to raising a pet and ensuring the pet you get your child is one they can handle and that will thrive in their care. You will learn how to begin the process of selecting the right pet for your family and your child. You will be walked through the detailed process of understanding your child's personality type and coming to terms with their maturity level and the pets that best match that maturity level. You will learn what specific needs the most common pets need, including food, water, outside care, and additional medical needs and costs. You will learn the average life spans, common diseases, and other issues that might affect your child's pet, and how to handle these situations with your child. Dozens of hours of interviews have been conducted with top pet and child psychology experts to provide detailed information about what children need to understand most before getting their own pet. You will learn how to discuss the important of responsibility and how to monitor their actions. You will learn how to maintain the pet's health and how to recognize warning signs if your child becomes overwhelmed. For anyone who has a child yearning for a pet that is wondering if they are ready, this book is designed for you.
Reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates : an identification and care guide
Patricia P. Bartlett, Billy Griswold and R.D. Bartlett.
Hauppauge, N.Y. : Barron's ; Enfield : Publishers Group UK [distributor], 2010.
Freshly updated with new photos and new data on many species, this pictorial identification guide and basic husbandry manual covers more than 250 species, subspecies, and color morphs of reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. The authors advise on what to look for when purchasing these animals, and discuss proper caging, and feeding. Each profile includes the animal's place of origin, its size from hatchling to adult, its lifespan, and its general behaviour traits. The wide array of animals covered includes snakes, lizards, skinks, geckos, turtles and tortoises, frogs, toads, salamanders, tarantulas, scorpions, mantids, crabs-and even cockroaches.
Kasey to the rescue : the remarkable story of a monkey and a miracle
Ellen Rogers.
New York, NY: Hyperion Books c2010.
In this heartwarming memoir, mother-of-five Rogers shares the remarkable and surprising story of how a mischievous capuchin monkey transformed her family, bringing hope, humor, and happiness as they faced their greatest challenge.
Turtles : everything about purchase, care, and nutrition
Hartmut Wilke.
Hauppauge, NY : Barron's Educational Series, c2010.
This manual offers detailed instructions on turtle care, safe handling, feeding, health care, and terrarium construction and maintenance. Written especially to introduce inexperienced and prospective pet owners to the pleasures and duties of pet care, Barron's Complete Pet Owner's Manuals also make fine guides to pet care for older children. These heavily illustrated books are filled with helpful information on purchasing, housing, feeding, health care-and where applicable, grooming and training pets. Each book is individually written by an expert-a trainer, breeder, veterinarian, or other animal specialist.

Among cat owners
91% pet their cat daily
29% celebrate their cat's birthday

(from study prepared for Ralston Purina)

Pets can:

  • Provide companionship
  • Teach responsibility
  • Relieve stress and increase feeling of well-being
  • Provide a sense of safety

Before welcoming a pet into your home take time to choose the pet that best fits your life, home, and budget. 

Ask yourself

How much time do you and your family spend at home during the day?

  • While different pets can take varying amounts of time, all require daily attention.  Will someone be available to provide adequate food, water, shelter and attention?

Which pet is best for your family? 

  • Look at the ages, health (don't forget allergies) and fears of all family members.

What pet is best for your home?

  • Cats, birds, and small animals more easily adapt to any size living space.  But dogs, especially active ones, need space to run or walk.  People who live in urban areas might consider identifying nearby dog parks.  Renters need to review their rental agreements to  comply with pet clauses. 

Who will be responsible for your pet?

  • Pets are a long-term responsibility.  Remember that a hamster may live 1-4 years, a cat 14-20 years and a parrot 40 years.

U.S. Pet Population

Cats 78 million
Dogs 65 million
Birds 17 million
Reptiles 9 million
Small Animals 17 million
Saltwater Fish 7 million
Freshwater Fish 185 million

(from American Pet Products Manufacturers Assoc.)

Can you afford the pet?

  • Pets are not free.  In addition to a purchase fee, pets need food and shelter, along with regular trips to a veterinarian.  Other expenses include boarding, grooming, licensing, and training. 
  • The Humane Society of Missouri says pet owners can expect to pay $5 per month in food expenses for a hamster, $30 for a cat, and $50 for a dog.

Choosing the right pet can create a special and lasting relationship that is right for your pet, family, and you.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff