Wed, Feb 25, 2015 - Page 4 News List

Animal rights group turning pet care into child’s play through online game

FUN AND FACTUAL:The initiative aims to teach both parents and children about keeping pets, and provides related scientific facts imbedded in the experience

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

The Taiwan Animal Equality Association recently launched a game on its Web page that aims to teach children how to take care of dogs and cats.

The game for personal computers and mobile devices is the first of its kind in the nation, the association said.

Lin Yi-shan (林憶珊), director-general of the association, said that many people are clueless about the right ways to take care of pets and the necessary tools. Most people buy pets on impulse, for example after watching an animal-themed movie or passing by a pet shop, she said.

“With this game, both parents and children can obtain the correct knowledge about keeping pets while having fun,” Lin said.

The game allows users to decide whether they want to raise a cat or a dog, and begins at an animal shelter where the user’s avatar has just made an adoption.

It then takes users to a veterinarian to vaccinate and implant chips in their newly adopted pets.

The next stage asks users to sort an assortment of items according to their effects on pets. According to the game, items desirable for pets include a bed, toys, food and clean water, while items that would be considered harmful include onions and chocolates.

As the plot develops, users learn about the steps they must follow throughout their pet’s lives, including how to bathe their pets, things to look out for while taking pets for a walk and how to identify the animals’ moods.

The game also highlights useful scientific facts related to keeping pets, which show up as the game progresses. For example, toddlers from families with pets have a 30 percent less chance of contracting respiratory diseases and ear infections.

Lin said that pets provide children with the strength to rise above challenges and emotional support that at times transcends that from their family or friends.

By educating children about the major events in the animals’ lives, children will also learn to show respect for all living things, Lin added.

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