Many pointed out that pets are often punished for reacting to abusive behavior from kids in their homes.
It is beautiful to watch children and pets bond. The unconditional love between humans and animals helps children develop empathy, a sense of responsibility and genuine care for another being. This world can certainly do with more love and empathy.
However, wherever there is a bond and connection, there will also be conflict—sometimes intentional and sometimes otherwise. Moreover, children mostly are emulating an adult's behavior and action. Sometimes, kids hurt pets. They may do it playfully, completely unaware that they are causing pain to the pet. While some parents and caretakers are ignorant about such instances, some others encourage this nasty streak in kids. This harms both the kid and the pet. In such cases, it almost always ends with pets defending themselves when they react either by barking aggressively or even biting them. The problem is that almost always, pets end up paying a price.
One Facebook post by Dún Laoghaire K9 brought attention to the matter, even though the post was later deleted. It has nevertheless started an important discussion on the responsibility of parents to teach their kids to be kind to pets. The image of the post was later shared on Imgur and Tumblr. They posted an image of a toddler standing on a dog and wrote, "Prime example of what NOT to allow. Eventually, it will come to a head and the dog will have enough. This child will be injured and this dog will be labeled aggressive and rehomed, or likely euthanized. Stop allowing children to mistreat dogs. It's not cute. It's not funny. It's not playful. It's dangerous and stupid. The dog and child pay the consequences for the parents' lack of common sense."
The post sparked a conversation on the topic with many agreeing that it was the responsibility of parents to ensure kids aren't hurting or scaring pets in any way. When a few argued that "good pets" don't hurt kids, a Tumblr user weighed in highlighting why that was a problematic take. "There are a lot of absolute idiots in the comments saying things like “a good dog will never hurt a baby” and “the child is never to blame if the dog attacks." Listen here. Dogs. Are not. F**king. People. They don’t operate by human logic. They don’t follow human moral codes. It has nothing to do with it being a “good dog“ or not. If you were getting hit and pulled on and punched and scratched constantly, you just might react. A dog can’t speak up and say “hey, please stop that you’re hurting me“. What he can do is move, lunge, bite, etc," they wrote.
In a world where you can be anything, be kind.. 😊 pic.twitter.com/mhzz4PeFQm— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden_) December 5, 2021
They urged parents to supervise the kids, even if the kid has been rough or hurt the pet before. "You never know when the pet might snap. Don’t teach your kids it’s OK to treat animals like punching bags and that they’ll never react. That’s immensely unfair to both the animal and the child. You could have a hurt or dead child and a euthanized dog because you were dumba$$ who thought the dogs were just there to be treated like toys. The same goes for cats and any other pet."
It was also a sentiment shared by experts. Better Health Channel advises that parents never leave kids unsupervised with animals, and spend time teaching their kids to always treat animals gently and calmly and never hurt, tease, frighten, surprise or corner an animal. Vida Radzeviciene, an animal behavior specialist, also weighed into the discussions, highlighting that a dog's behavior might not be the same when adults are not around. "Any dog can be provoked, especially when there are no adults around. That’s when a dog might decide to discipline your kid himself," said Radzeviciene. "Unfortunately, he can’t speak human language, nor does he know how to handle the subtleties of our communication. There are only one-way dogs discipline your ill-behaved kids, and that’s how his own mom would discipline him." Pets are a great way for parents to teach their kids about being loving, selfless, and empathetic, and in a world that's as divisive as it is today, that's some of the best values a child can inculcate.
Cover image source: ainawgsd.tumblr.com