More than half of the parents surveyed by Pets at Home (51%) had a class pet as a child, compared to 46% of children today - and nearly 1 in 5 (17%) of children currently do not have the opportunity to look after a pet either at home or at school.
Non-traditional animals such as chickens, tadpoles, caterpillars and stick insects are becoming increasingly popular alternatives as classroom pets. Fish are currently the most common class pet (24%), followed by hamsters (18%) and guinea pigs (13%). 91% of parents say they would like their child to have a class pet in order to learn about responsibility, particularly because two fifths of parents (40%) do not have “enough time” to take care of a family pet.
Despite this, parents acknowledge that the benefits of learning to look after a pet are significant. 88% think a pet is important for a child’s development and 87% believe a pet can help a child’s social skills. Over a third (37%) of the primary-school aged children questioned said their favourite thing about having a pet at home would be the cuddles they share, whereas the top reason for wanting a pet in the classroom would be learning to look after something (31%).
Mark Smith, Pet Operations Manager at Pets at Home, said: “Whether it’s a hamster or a stick insect, it’s really important for children to learn the level of responsibility and time required to look after a pet. If your child has a pet or even if they don’t but just love animals, they can join your local Pets at Home store that will be holding a series of summer workshops over the school holidays. The free My Pet Pals sessions are designed to educate the next generation of pet owners about the responsibility of owning a pet, and your child can even get up close and personal with the pets in-store!”
The My Pet Pals Summer workshops will run at more than 430 Pets at Home stores across the UK using fun, interactive activities to educate the next generation of pet owners on how to care for small furry animals and fish responsibly.
Children can expect to find out about the fascinating world of each pet, learning about the five welfare needs – shelter, food and water, good health, appropriate company and the right living environment – and even getting the chance to interact with some pets in-store.
To find out more about My Pet Pals Summer workshops and book your place in your nearest store, please visit petsathome.com/workshops