Pets help family harmony, says poll
Keeping pets helps improve family relationships, a poll shows.
Nearly three out of four people said pets were conducive to harmony in the family, in an online survey by Health Link and My Pet magazine.
The study polled 503 pet owners who lived with family members.
Nearly half the respondents said they had no difficulty raising children and keeping pets at the same time, while one in four said pets were good companions for the elderly.
Seventy-eight per cent said they kept dogs, and 23 per cent kept cats. About one in 10 said they had both dogs and cats at home.
Maggie Ng Miu-man, head of Health Link, said: 'As pet-keeping has become more common, the government should introduce more animal-friendly policies such as allowing tenants of public housing estates to keep pets.'
A quarter of those surveyed said pets could become companions for the elderly, while nearly half said taking dogs for a walk also helped the owners do more exercise.
Although 46 per cent of respondents said they did not have plans to have children, about the same percentage said raising children and keeping pets would not pose a problem. A quarter said pet-keeping was a good way to teach young children to cherish lives. When deciding what pets to adopt, 11 per cent said they would choose breeds that would be suitable for the elderly.
Twenty-one per cent of the respondents agreed that barking and smells from pets were a drawback and 19 per cent had quarrels with family members over pet-keeping.
Some 15 per cent said taking care of their pets affected their daily routine and sleep.
Nearly one-fifth of those surveyed said keeping pets could make living space more crowded, while 10 per cent said pets induced allergies.
More respondents thought that children would injure pets than the other way round, with 18 per cent worried about this compared with 12.5 per cent with fears about animals hurting the young.
Hong Kong Institute of Family Education chairman Tik Chi-yuen said pets could make children become more independent as they learned to take care of animals.
One pet owner told of her experience of keeping a six-year-old dog while raising her two-year-old daughter. She said she had never thought about giving up her dog when she became pregnant, adding that her daughter would share toys with her dog and would feed it.
households in Hong Kong have pets, which is one in every eight homes, according to the results of the Census taken in 2006