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The Richness of the Child-Pet Relationship: A Consideration of Both Benefits and Costs of Pets to Children

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The present study was aimed at identifying meaningful and sensitive measures of the potential social-emotional benefits and costs that children report as associated with their involvement with companion animals. The sample consisted of 213 children in grades 3 through 7 who had pets and another 44 who did not. The high percentage of pet ownership found is not unusual. Two questionnaires measuring pet benefits and pet costs were administered. The benefits identified were mutuality, enduring affection, self-enhancing affection, and exclusivity of relationship. The costs identified were distress stemming from pet death or pet rejection, unfair grief, dissatisfaction with pet's needs, worry about pet safety, “getting into trouble,” and distress at not being allowed to care for pet needs.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/089279390787057469

Publication date: December 1, 1990

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