The child is the one that asked for the pet. The child is the one that picked out the exact pet that was brought home. And the child is the reason that the dog shakes his head in shame when he has to respond to Plankton as his name. But, that dog or the cat or any other pet that manages to make it into your home is not just the sole responsibility of the child, is it? Like it or not, they become part of the family and as such, are the responsibility of everybody, at least partially. Despite protesting against it, you find yourself feeding the cat or walking the dog from time to time, but does that necessarily mean that your child is shirking his duties? Not really, if one child needed a drink of water, would you really make him wait for it?
Before you even allow a pet to come into your door, sit down with your child lay down the rules and obligations that will be expected of him. Make sure he knows how much food the pet will need, and how often. Make a clear chart with pictures for younger children, or clearly worded directions for older kids. Include rewards and punishments for failing to meet any obligations, for example, if the child does walk the dog on their day, then that child loses TV time. Teaching your child to meet obligations and duties is important to turning out responsible adults.
Remember though, that children will actually forget certain things in pet care, no matter how much they love their furry friend. There might be times when your child is sick, or too busy with schoolwork or extracurricular activities to fulfill all of his obligations. On those occasions, it will be up to you to step in and help the child out. Ultimately, as head of the family, all of the members are your responsibility and that means the feline, canine or miscellaneous additions as well. If you are completely unwilling to step in and take over any aspect of pet care for any length of time, you may want to reconsider allowing a pet at that time.
No matter how well the child does take care of his pet, you must also understand that the financial burden will most likely be on you. You will have to maintain his diet, his vet bills and the other costs of pet ownership, unless you are planning on sending your child out to find a job!