Saturday, November 21, 2015

Purina Better With Pets Summit Reinforces the Positive Child-Pet Relationship

The bond between children and pets is a subject for which I'm particularly passionate. I've written about cats and kids for a few years, and my family is living proof that growing up with pets builds responsibility and nurtures compassion. Who doesn't want more responsible, compassionate people in the world? I know I do.

An older photo of my two kids with Saffy and Phoebe

When I attended the Nestlé Purina Better with Pets Summit earlier this month, I was thrilled to learn there would be a panel on the very subject of my passion! I knew they'd be preaching to the choir with me in the audience, but I loved that everyone else in the crowd would hear what I already knew deep within my heart: pets can change kids' lives in many wonderful ways.

The expert panel included:

Jayne Vitale (moderator) -- Director of Outreach/Youth Development Programs at Mutt-i-grees

Stasha Becker -- mom, blogger, dog lover, and Instagrammer

Ilana Reisner -- veterinary and behavior consultant

Charley Bednarsh -- Director of Children's Services, NYC Family Justice Center in Brooklyn

Becker, Reisner, and Bednarsh (L-R)

I especially enjoyed hearing about Bednarsh's experiences using dogs as therapy animals for anxious children facing difficult legal situations in court. I've read a lot about pets positively affecting anxiety, depression, and even heart issues. It makes a ton of sense that the legal system would tap into the healing power of animals. I hope this example increases awareness and shows others that pets can have a powerful impact on helping kids (and adults) feel calmer and more stable during times of distress. 

In addition to their ability to ease anxiety and improve overall physical and mental health, pets also teach responsibility. Of course, this means adults need to be engaged and make sure children are doing age-appropriate pet-related tasks, and are well-trained in properly handling their pets. For example, a 3-year-old child can scoop food into a dish, but you probably wouldn't want to ask that same child to walk a 100-lb Black Lab or clean a litter box. 

Responsible, respectful, pet-loving adults don't just happen -- they have to start somewhere. As adults, it's our obligation to pass these skills, passions, and priorities on to the next generation. 

I was compensated to help spread the word about Purina Better With Pets Summit. Catladyland only shares information we think would be of interest to our readers. The opinions are our own.

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