It Pays to Know the Costs of Companion Animal Care
A Companion Animal Care Article from All-Creatures.org

This Companion Animal Care directory is presented to help people seeking reliable resources, tips, and information for companion animals.

FROM

The National Humane Education Society (NHES)
October 2016

 How big of a problem is this? Each situation is different, but consider this: There are more households with pets than ever in the United States. Eight of the ten states with the lowest average income also rank in the top ten for highest rates of pet ownership. Simply stated, there are more pets than ever in America, and most of them are located in regions where residents may be least likely to afford them.

A woman hangs up her phone. She has just learned that her local spca does not provide free spay surgeries, so she will have to pay at least some money out of pocket. She thinks to herself that she just canít afford it Ė after all, she just bought a puppy!

As pet ownership increasingly becomes the norm, it may be easier to forget that with the exception of service animals, companion animals are not needs. Having a dog, cat, or other animal at home is a luxury, and like any luxury, entails a financial commitment. While animal welfare charities may provide limited support, they canít possibly subsidize routine pet care for those who have animals they simply canít afford.

It has been said that there is no such thing as a free lunch. The same could be said for companion animals. To say nothing of the cost of pet food, caring for even one small dog can entail more costs than one may think. Flea, tick, and heartworm preventative, spay and neuter surgery, core vaccines, higher security deposits or increased monthly rent payments, outdoor fencing, license fees, pet sitters, and pet supplies (toys, beds, crates, dishes, leashes) can add up quickly. Add on the costs of replacing household items that a new animal might damage, and the bill gets even higher. Add another pet ó and the bill nearly doubles!

Sadly, when households procure pets without first procuring the necessary income, it is often the animals who suffer. Dogs and cats who go without flea and tick preventative can develop horrible allergic reactions, worms, and secondary infections. Households who donít allow pets inside, but donít want to fence their yards, may resort to dog chaining. Exotic pets, meanwhile, may be easy to procure online or at corporate pet stores, but entail great effort and expense to keep. All too often, when families feel overburdened by animal expenses, the animal is surrendered to a shelter, abandoned, or even euthanized.

How big of a problem is this? Each situation is different, but consider this: There are more households with pets than ever in the United States. Eight of the ten states with the lowest average income also rank in the top ten for highest rates of pet ownership. Simply stated, there are more pets than ever in America, and most of them are located in regions where residents may be least likely to afford them.

What You Can Do

  • Generally, you do not have to be wealthy to have a companion animal, but you must be realistic about your financial ability to provide your animal lifelong care. For starters, if you cannot afford the standard adoption fee, you cannot afford the animal.
  • Have a plan to care for your pet in a financial, medical, or housing emergency. Consider veterinary financing through Care Credit or maintain a zero balance on a credit card for emergencies.
  • If a charity does help you with spay or neuter costs, emergency pet food, or veterinary assistance, pay it forward when youíre back on your feet by making your own charitable donation.

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