Thursday, April 19, 2012

Can you afford a pet?

Almost daily, we receive calls from people who need  help paying for veterinary care for their pets.  Unfortunately, we do not have extra funds to pay veterinary care for the public.  As it is, we spend almost $25,000 per year on medications, vaccines, and veterinary care for our shelter animals.

If you want a pet and have to make payments just to afford the purchase, you probably should not own a pet.  This is a sad fact but very true.  Pets need to be vaccinated against disease.  Plus, you are required by Pennsylvania state law to have your pet vaccinated against rabies.  You need to establish a relationship with a veterinarian.  If you wait until your pet is sick to take it to a veterinarian, you may have difficulty finding a vet who will care for your pet when you don't have the funds to pay the fees.

To be clear, veterinarians must pay for their office space, employees, insurance, utilities, and supplies and still make a living.  So if someone they have never seen before wants veterinary care, and can't pay for it, it ends up costing them money.

If you want a pet, keep in mind that you need to set aside money for its care or pay for pet insurance.  Think about the costs you will incur.  First there is the purchase price of the pet.  Sure, you can get a free pet so maybe the initial cost will be zero.  But you really, really, need to get vet care.  Your vet will give you good advice about its care, give it shots to protect it from disease, and be available when you really need care. 

Then you have to consider the food, spaying or neutering, (trust me-you want to have it done), food and water bowls, collar, leash, treats, toys, flea treatment, heartworm treatment, cat litter, waste disposal, bedding, dental care, and annual checkups.  Annual costs average from $500 to $2,000. 

Sure you can get really inexpensive food (which is probably bad for your pet and will lower its life span).  And you might want to skip some of the recommended treatments (again shortening its life span).  The moral of the story is; wait until you can afford a pet before you get one.  If you can't live without the loving companionship of a pet try volunteering at your local shelter, or volunteer to take your neighbor's dog for a walk, or play with the cat.  Don't put yourself in a position where an animal will suffer because you can't afford its care.

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