‘Counting On’: The Duggars Have A Weird History with Owning Pets

The Duggar family doesn’t do things like everyone else — that’s the main reason TLC gave them their own television show. They have more kids than a typical family does, women don’t work outside the home, and no one is allowed to watch television, among many other rules. Overall, the Duggar family’s existence is much more sheltered and conservative than most modern families.

But that doesn’t explain their strange and sometimes hostile relationship with animals. With so many children at home, you’d think the Duggars would own a few hamsters or have a family dog. But instead, it seems that pets aren’t always welcome Duggar home. Here’s why.

The Duggar family
Duggar family | D Dipasupil/Getty Images for Extra

Jim Bob Duggar avoided getting a pet for the first year of marriage

The Duggars follow plenty of strange rules at home, but this might be one of the weirdest. After Jim Bob and Michelle got married, they followed the advice of a friend and decided against bringing a pet or a television home for at least the first year.

“I grew up watching TV, but when we got married a doctor friend of ours encouraged us not to have a pet or a TV the first year of marriage,” Jim Bob told HuffPost (via Romper). “So we did that. For the first year, we lived on love.”

The Duggar kids don’t seem to understand pet ownership

Former 19 Kids and Counting fans probably remember seeing dogs wandering around during some episodes, but those usually belonged to friends or neighbors and didn’t live with the Duggars full time. That fact becomes obvious based on their interactions.

In one episode, Jennifer is seen playing with the neighbor’s dog Tilly. But things take a turn when she closes the pup in a kitchen cabinet and starts laughing. “Tilly is a pretty easy-going dog and that can be a good thing or that can be a bad thing,” Michelle says in the clip, according to Nicki Swift.  

“In one sense, the children kind of over-love on her,” she continues. 

Derick Dillard was accused of animal cruelty

Jill Duggar’s husband Derick Dillard is one of the most controversial characters from Counting On and has been called out for his antics multiple times. One of those happened when he almost injured a cat on purpose.

This incident was posted in a Twitter video that has since been removed. But Buzzfeed reported that the clip showed Dillard saying, “Move, cat” before sledding directly into the animal on a cookie sheet as his family laughed in the background.

The cat ran away and appeared unscathed. But the incident was still unsettling for viewers.

As one Twitter user wrote (via Nicki Swift), “It’s disgusting that these people keep reproducing. He clearly tried to hit the cat. That hill is huge; he could have taken a different path. And the laughter in the background is pure evil.” 

The Duggars owned more cats than dogs

There was one time that the Duggars did have cats for pets, though. Michelle shared on an old blog post that she once rescued a litter of abandoned kittens from a construction site.

The building was going to be secured before we left so we knew that the mother cat wouldn’t be able to get back in, and we didn’t want to leave the kittens out in the open because there are wild animals near the woods that might’ve eaten them. And even if they did survive we were pretty sure that they would become feral. So we decided to bring them home where we have two older kittens.

More recently, Jinger and Jeremy Vuolo adopted a stray cat they named Jacob in honor of Jinger’s childhood pet. But they wound up rehoming the feline when Jeremy’s allergies started acting up.

It sounds like the Duggars are better off not owning pets at all!