Of course, this includes the usual suspects such as dogs and cats, but also extends to the less common pets such as snakes, rats and ferrets. The majority of Australian pet owners report that they consider their pet to be like a member of their family (www.acac.org.au). (That is certainly the case for this writer!)
With so many households owning pets, it seems sensible to consider the benefits. Why would a family or household want to own not only one pet, but multiple pets?
There has been a large volume of research that has reported the many health benefits of owning pets. In comparison to people who do not own pets, studies show that pet owners:
â€¢ Typically visit the doctor less often
â€¢ Have a lower average cholesterol and average blood pressure
â€¢ Deal better with stressful situations
â€¢ Recover more quickly from illness, and
â€¢ Are less likely to report feelings of loneliness (www.acac.org.au).
With such wonderful reported benefits, I am not surprised at the high levels of pet ownership.
For families, there are also some wonderful benefits that children can gain from growing up with pets. There is an opportunity to learn responsibility through being the care-giver to a pet, there is also the opportunity to develop many of the fruits of the spirit that Jesus talked about in the Bible. "…. the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Galatians 5 versees 22-23.
How wonderful it is to be given opportunity at a young age to develop these Godly-characteristics!
Many experts also report mental health benefits from the companionship that comes with pet ownership. With statistics showing that in 2007 45% of Australians aged 16-85 had experienced a mental health disorder at some stage in their lives and with the Australian Bureau of Statistics reporting the estimated cost of mental health in Australia is $20 billion (www.abs.gov.au) such simple steps as pet ownership surely need to be considered and valued by everyone.
As a family that has a veritable farmyard of pets (dogs, cat, bird, and until recently chickens) I was always going to be a strong advocate for pet ownership but when you read some of these outstanding benefits I also think it makes it very difficult to argue against!
And when you have a tail wagging, four-legged bundle of joy jumping in excitement to greet you on your arrival home each evening how could I believe anything other than the fact that pet ownership is simply wonderful?
Merewyn Foran is married and a marketing director of a not for profit homelessness agency in Melbourne.
Merewyn Foran's archive of previous articles can be found at www.pressserviceinternational.org/merewyn-foran.html