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A Pet for the Children: Factors Related to Family Pet Ownership
The demographic variables related to pet ownership in New Zealand families of 8-12 -year-olds were investigated. Questionnaire surveys were used to establish data from 312 families of primary school children. Family composition, reasons for pet acquisition, and the advantages and disadvantages of pets were also examined. Almost 90% of families owned at least one pet, and over half of these families included a child who was the sole owner of a pet. Parental employment level, living locality, and sibling status (number and position) were related to pet ownership. Parents acquired pets for their children mainly to teach responsibility and care, or because their child had asked for the pet, and these reasons were related to sibling status. Perceived advantages of pet ownership included teaching responsibility and care, love, respect and affection, and companionship. Over half the sample claimed no disadvantages of pet ownership. The most common disadvantages were finding holiday care, the time and work involved in pet care, and the mess caused by animals. Implications for future research include the distinction between child-owned and family-owned pets, the reasons for acquiring pets and their effect on the relationship with the pet, and comparisons of parent and child beliefs about the role of the family pet.
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