About the program

'We Are Family' is a guide to growing the relationship between your child and pet. It helps educate expectant and new parents on the benefits and joys of children experiencing pet ownership. It details potential risks and provides knowledge, skills and strategies to make sure the experience is safe, as well as physically and emotionally enriching. The ‘We Are Family’ program and resources are available through participating hospitals, with maternity services, and maternal childcare centres throughout the State.

On this page
Why
Resources

Our Pets and baby Our Cat and family

Why

As many people are having their first baby later in life, pets are often well-established members of the family unit before a baby comes along. Pets have long been recognised as valuable members of the family and are often considered ‘substitute children’ before the arrival of a baby.

Pets and children can form a wonderful close bond and it is heart-warming to watch them interact. Apart from companionship and affection, pets also teach children responsibility and how to care for another living being. Because pets do not judge children or get angry with them, children often trust their pets with their secrets. Children who participate in walking and exercising the family dog have the added benefit of extra physical activity.

Unfortunately, not all childhood experiences with pets are positive. Research shows that children in the 0–4 age bracket are the greatest risk of hospitalisation for dog attack injuries. Research identifies that 80% of these dog attacks happen in the family home or the home of a family member or friend. These attacks involved their own dog or one known to them.

From an animal welfare point of view, a large number of pets, especially cats, are being given to animal shelters, with the arrival of a new baby as the reason. Many of these decisions are based on inaccurate information, depriving both children and pets of a long and happy relationship.

Resources

The 'We Are Family' Program has developed a range of resources for your reference. Feel free to access our video, booklet and fact sheets by clicking on the applicable links.

We are Family Booklet We Are Family booklet
Pet planner checklist
We Are Family movie
We are Family image of Supervision Pamphlet Actively supervise all interaction
We are Family image of Dog Pamphlet Every dog is capable of biting
We are Family image of Dog Attack Pamphlet Facts about dog attacks
We are Family image of downloadable Pamphlet 1 We are Family poster 1
We are Family image of downloadable Pamphlet 2 We are Family poster 2
We are Family image of downloadable cat pamphlet Preparing your cat for a baby's arrival
We are Family image of downloadable dog pamphlet When do dogs bite

Hospital Program
If your hospital is keen to be involved in the program please contact the Program's office on
Phone: 1800 000 776
Email: wearefamily.program@agriculture.vic.gov.au

Please provide us with a key contact and email address so we can register your hospital on our database which will enable you to order materials and professional development which is all free of charge.