by Tiffany Koppenaal and Cynthia Hering
It seems silly when you hear someone say “I am late on paying my rent, but I need to get cat food for Bootsy.” But it does happen. If you can’t afford to provide for your animal’s basic needs before you can support yourself, getting a pet is not the best idea, though some people find a way. The care that a pet owner gives can either increase or decrease the life expectancy of his or her pet. Here we have considered the following to help you decide if you are ready for a pet and the responsibilites that follow.
First, you should consider the cost. The average cost for a dog is around $400-$800 for the first year, which includes vaccinations, worming, and spaying or neutering (Colie). As a good pet owner, you should be able to provide food, costing around $15-$60 per month and accessories that price around $20-$100 per year (Colie). The amount of food and exercise a dog gets determines its health and overall well-being. “Large dogs eat more food on a daily basis than little ones, but the larger dog in general, the shorter the life span. Smaller dogs can often live to be 12 to 16 years of age” (Kipperman). As for cats, they tend to live indoors, so exercise is also important for their health (Kipperman). Cats tend to be cheaper than dogs when it comes to adopting, but they still have needs that must be met after the initial expense. In the first year of owning a dog the cost is approximately $1,260, while cats tend to cost around $1,070 (Weliver).
Many times we think we are ready for a pet but don’t consider the living arrangements. Something to keep in mind is the difficulty in finding a new home that accepts pets. If you cannot afford to pay a pet deposit or pay for any damages made to the home, it is best to wait until you are financially stable. When some pet owners move to different homes that don’t accept pets, the pets get placed in animal shelters (Barnes). If you are considering living in a small apartment, owning a large dog could cause complications if you don’t keep up with its exercise and training. It could cause you to run into more problems if the dog is not used to being around other dogs and humans. Do you tend to travel a lot, or work long hours? If you are not able to always be at your home, you may want to consider getting a small animal that will be fine on its own for a long time until you come home.
Shelter or Breeder?
At shelters, they generally have a set fee. A cat costs $50 at most shelters; dogs are about five to ten dollars more than a cat. It depends on the shelter, because not all shelters charge the same price. If there is a purebred dog at the shelter, the shelter tends to ask more for the dog (“Adoption Process”). Animal shelters tell you if the pet is up to date on all of its vaccinations, if the pet is de-wormed, and if it has been spayed or neutered. If the pet is not of age and you would like to take it home, they will give you documentation stating when you bought the pet, its age, and when it can be fixed. Once it is of age, you take it to the vet that the shelter recommends, show the vet the shelters documents, and he or she will fix your pet free of charge. Where all pets are concerned if they are older, or if the adopter is a senior citizen, the shelter will sometimes give you a discount (“Adoption Process”).
When buying from a breeder it depends on where you go because the prices are between $300-$1,500, based on age, gender, breed, and the color of the coat.
More than nine million pets get euthanized in animal shelters annually, according to the National Council of Pet Population and Policy (Barnes). Adopting from a shelter costs less than going to a breeder, and it helps control overpopulation in shelters.
Having a pet has many advantages, it teaches you responsibility, gives you someone to spend time with, and it teaches you unconditional love. If you love something, you are more willing to invest your money, time, and patience into it.
An important responsibility pet owners have is training their pets. Training your pet is crucial to how it will act around you, other people, and other animals. If you want a pet, raise it right and train it. There are some good pet owners who do try to train their pets the best they can, but the pets still act out at times because of their nature. Some risks of untrained pets are that they become anxious and unsure of their surroundings. Training for puppies should begin as soon as they are brought home. An untrained dog risks running out in front of a car during a walk and also will never see themselves as a subordinate dog.
Personal Stories by the Authors
When I heard that the college I was going to had a pet dorm I knew I wanted to get a cat to keep me company. As soon as I got it approved through the school for me to live in the pet dorm I started looking at the local shelter for adoptable cats. When I started looking at the shelter I saw so many cute kitties and they were all different sizes. There were big cats that were really adorable and were over two feet long. It was hard for me to decide which one I was going to pick. I looked into each and every cage, and in each cage I saw something different. I saw life in every pair of eyes and I also saw hope that this would be the time they would get to go home with a person. I played with the cats for three hours and I had it down to a couple, but I knew I couldn’t pick which one to take home that day.
As I was leaving a woman stopped me in the lobby, crying, She was holding a frightened-looking cat in her arms. This cat looked older than a kitten, but that’s not what caught my eye. What caught my eye was the worried look on the cat’s face, as her eyes shot all around the room. The lady started into her sad story, about how she got the cat and now she could not keep her because of her allergies. The cat looked terrified to be back at the shelter she had lived there for so long already. She looked scared she was going to die there. The lady handed me the cat and it purred instantly. I watched as the woman who ran the shelter took the re-housing money for the cat from the woman. I felt panic when the lady who ran the shelter asked if she could have the cat to put her in a cage. The cat looked at me with a scared look on her face and I told the lady she could not have the cat, because I was going to adopt her. I spent $50 on my cat; she is an older cat, so to many people she is useless. But to me she is perfect. She was already litter-trained, declawed, spayed and she had her rabies shot. She is the best cat I could ever ask for. She makes my life complete and she keeps me sane during my busy college life.
A family friend told me how her son’s friend rescued an American foxhound that was abandoned in a box on the side of the highway. “My son’s friend found him on Prathersville Road off of Highway 63. He pulled up at the exit and heard a small howl coming from a box” (Greenhoe). Jill’s son called her and told her that they had rescued a puppy. Shortly after finding out the puppy’s condition Jill immediately took him in and named him Dax. The fox hound was left in a box with two other dead puppies. The hound had a serious worm problem and had been neglected for some time. To help bring the hound back to good health Jill spent a good amount on getting him de-wormed and all the shots he needed. “It cost around $360 for the first month of having him, but for being neglected the way he was he sure is a happy dog and fits right in with the family now” (Greenhoe). Currently Dax loves to roam around in Cosmo Park trails with Jill, chase tennis balls around the house, steal socks for fun, and loves to bark at bikers who pass by him on the trails. Dax is a loving, playful pup and has an adorable hound bark.
You should understand the value of the pet and realize that pet ownership is similar to raising a child; it takes time, patience, love, money, responsibility, and hard work. A responsible pet owner takes into consideration the initial cost, unexpected costs, living arrangements, proper treatments and training. There are many ways to adopt an animal; consider saving a life and adopt one from a shelter before going to a breeder. Whatever you choose, you will definitely change your life and the life of your new pet.
“Adoption Process and Fees.” Idaho Humane Society. Web. 10 Dec. 2012. <https://www.idahohumanesociety.org/adopt/adoption-process-and-fees/>.
Barnes, Steve. “Man’s Best Friend Can Make Finding a New Home a Doggone Chore.”Times Union. Albany, New York. 17 Aug. 2008. LexisNexis. Web. 3 Dec. 2012. <http://www.tmsspecialtyproducts.com/article/Mans-best-friend-can-make/200808170539MCT_____BUSINEWS31806_15583>.
Colie, Caroline. “The Real Cost of Owning a Dog” Petside.com. 2007-2012. Web. 6 Nov. 2012. <http://www.petside.com/article/real-cost-owning-dog>.
Greenhoe, Jill. Personal Interview. 9 Dec. 2012.
Kipperman, Dr. Barry. “How Long Do Cats and Dogs Live?” Prime.peta.org. 2011. Web. 8 Dec. 2012. <http://prime.peta.org/2013/01/live>.
Weliver, David E. “The Annual Cost of Pet Ownership: Can You Afford a Furry Friend?” Money Under 30, April 2008. Web. 6 Nov. 2012. <http://www.moneyunder30.com/the-true-cost-of-pet-ownership>.