Are your kiddos asking for a pet for your home. Yes, having a dog or cat is a great bonding time for the kids. It's a great chance to teach them responsibility. When my daughter was growing up we had all sorts of pets throughout her time living at home.
Having a pet escape your yard has got to be one of the scariest things I have gone through. My dogs used to be escape artists. Usually I would get a call that they are gathering at the Chick-fil-A or Walgreens on Georgia. That was right down the street from where I was living at the time.