Dubai: Instead of letting your kids play with tablets and gadgets during most of their leisure time, animal welfare advocates in Ras Al Khaimah advise parents to adopt a pet to help kids learn the value of taking responsibility and showing empathy, and develop overall better health.
“Having a pet can force kids as well as adults to slow down. For example, if you’re glued to your laptop or games, often a cat will come and disturb you asking to be petted and stroked and played with. This gives you a nice break and forces you to relax and just clear your mind,” Ellen Quanjer, manager of RAK Animal Welfare Centre (RAKAWC) told Gulf News. The message came as the centre recently opened its doors to pet lovers to mark the centre’s Adoption Month this month.
Quanjer said research abounds on the health benefits of having pets for both adults and children. A large-scale study in Australia among pet owners showed their annual visits to the doctor are 15 to 20 per cent less compared to non-pet owners. Children who have been exposed to pets during infancy have low risks of developing asthma and respiratory tract infections according to a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Having pets also helps kids develop a more active lifestyle as opposed to being a couch potato while playing computer games. “If both kids and pets know that after school is playtime together, they begin to look forward to it and enjoy it. So, instead of coming home to a tablet, they can come home to a friend who has missed them all day and is really excited to play and interact with them,” Quanjer said.
With constant interaction with their furry pets, children learn to respond to other living beings in a positive way.
“Caring for a pet instils empathy in both kids and adults. You are caring for another being that cannot speak to you so you learn to recognise the pet’s body language, when it is happy, when it is stressed, when it is tired,” Quanjer said.
Quanjer said they have 20 dogs and 15 cats at the centre that are ready to be rehomed. All the animals have been looked after by veterinarians, trained, neutered, micro-chipped and vaccinated.
The decision to adopt pets, however, has to be a family decision, Quanjer said. Factors such as accommodation, age of the kids, and long-term plans of the family, among others, have to be taken into consideration before adopting pets.
Visit, www.rakawc.com or call 050 432 1873 for more information on the requirements for adopting pets from the centre.