Pets and Money

Earlier today, I opened a can of worms by suggesting that, if your budget is overly tight, you may wish to consider looking for a new home for your pet. My mention of this issue was extremely brief (not nearly enough to actually explore the issue in detail), but a number of readers grabbed ahold of this point and ran with it. Thus, I decided to move this discussion to a separate post so these issues could be explored in more detail.

Pets can be wonderful, valuable companions. I was particularly attached to my own dog growing up – some of my best memories are of playing Frisbee with him in the yard for hours every night after school. I’d toss the frisbee and he’d pause for a few seconds, then give chase at top speed, leaping in the air to catch it, then run back to me to be greeted with a playful petting and a scratch behind the ears. He used to sleep in my bed with me, too, right next to me, curled up next to my chest. I know full well how much a pet can mean to a person – and how much a person can mean to a pet.

Pet Considerations First of all, the decision to acquire a pet is a serious one and should merit some careful consideration. Pets require constant upkeep and attention – if you are unsure if you want a pet or do not know the effort involved in maintenance, look for a situation where you can perhaps watch someone else’s pet for a period while that person is traveling. Pets also have a constant cost – vet visits, food, litter, and other costs are regular and consistent.

You should also consider that a pet will begin to look on you as its caretaker and will form a deep bond with you. If you don’t believe that you will be able to care for a pet over a long period of time, you should strongly consider not getting one. A pet should be a long term commitment – if you’re not up for that, then you should strongly consider not getting a pet.

Unwanted Pets However, there’s a serious problem with pet ownership – what is the appropriate thing to do if the pet is no longer wanted by the owner? If this weren’t an issue, there would not be stray pets and pet shelters wouldn’t stay in business. I don’t feel that taking a pet to a shelter is a good choice – pets don’t deserve to live in a cage, ever. Some would argue that once you have a pet, it should be yours forever because the pet is attached to you, but that’s not healthy either – if the owner no longer wants the pet, it’s not psychologically a good situation for the pet or the owner.

I’m a strong believer in pet adoption, similar to how I feel about human adoption – it’s the most humane solution to a situation where a pet is not wanted by an owner, and that’s what I advocated earlier today. If an owner has a pet that they no longer want or can properly care for, or they discover that the responsibilities of pet ownership are a burden they aren’t prepared to handle, that owner should be responsible enough to find a safe, healthy home for that pet.

To summarize, if there are issues in your home and in your life that are causing an uncomfortable relationship between you and your pet (and finances can indeed be one of them), then you should consider selling your pet to or having your pet adopted by a loving family. It’s not good for you and it’s not good for the pet to continue in a stressful environment.

I expect the comments on this post to be quite interesting.

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  1. Wendy says:

    If you’re willing to even entertain the idea to sell or give away a pet to reduce your spending, you probably shouldn’t have the pet in the first place. Yes, my cat probably costs about $75-$100/month between food, litter, and her medications, but getting rid of my cat to save some money is something I can’t even comprehend. (comment moved from original post)

  2. Cee says:

    Your suggestion of getting rid of a pet to save money is horrific. This is why there are so many dogs and cats waiting to be euthanized at shelters – when people think of pets as disposable, which they are NOT. (comment moved from original post)

  3. Jake Smith says:

    Well, Trent just like you think it is wise to have a third kid given your financial circumstances, for some people (myself included) getting rid of a pet to save money is not an option…

  4. morydd says:

    @Trent: I have to respectfully disagree. When you adopt a pet, you are assuming an obligation to care for that pet for its, or your lifetime. If you’re not willing to accept that responsibility, you should not adopt the pet in the first place. It is something you must plan for when figuring out your emergency fund and your budgeting. A pet is not a possession. (comment moved from original post)

  5. JE Watson says:

    The idea of giving away or selling a pet to save money is disgraceful and borders on animal cruelty. My pets are part of my family and would be severely traumatized if I gave them away. Why not put your children up for adoption, or euthanizing your elderly live-in parents. (comment moved from original post)

  6. James E Watson says:

    re: “pet issues”. I guess this is your blog, and you have the dictatorial right to edit it at will and delete any comments that are critical of your opinion. This, of course, puts you in the company of luminaries such as China (imprisoning dissidents), Dick Cheney (deleting e-mails); and the CIA (secret prisons). It’s a shame you’re not secure in your own beliefs to leave comments and criticisms alike. (comment moved from original post)

  7. Eric says:

    People are upset that you would even suggest giving away a pet to reduce your monthly spending. It’s like suggesting you should divorce your wife or give up your kids in order to reduce your monthly spending while it may be true that’s completely beside the point.

    A pet is effectively a companion who is dependent on you. To suggest they should be given up to save a few bucks is disgusting. (comment moved from original post)

  8. James E Watson says:

    Jake — I could not agree with you more. Trent has said that he would have a third child without regard to the cost, but seems to think that pets are pretty much disposable. For many, many people pets are family and are the only source of companionship. The idea of giving away a pet — even to a loving home is unthinkable, and borderline animal cruelty.

    Trent — try reading your post but replace the word ‘pet’ with the word ‘son’, and see how you like it.

  9. James E Watson says:

    Trent — kudos to you for showing all the comments from the previous post.

  10. heather says:

    Finding a new home for my pet because of budget trouble would be like saying I should find a new home for my son because money’s tight. Jake is (and always has been) as much a family member as any of the 2-legged people in the house. Some things are not negotiable.

    I’m sure, though, that there are people who need to find new homes for their pets, and in that case you’re right, adoption is the way to go. Look for no-kill shelters or humane societies, and if your dog is a specific breed, look for a breed-specific rescue group. They often have foster families who can take care of your pet until a new adoptive family is found.

    If the problem is temporary (a procedure your pet needs that you can’t afford), check out this site by the American Humane Society for tips on how to manage the cost and find help: http://www.americanhumane.org/site/PageServer?pagename=faqs_vetbills

  11. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    James and Jake: I want to have a third child because I believe that I can care for a third child. If I cannot care for a third child, then I will not merely abandon it – I will look for an adoption situation where my child will go to a family that can care for it. It’s the same exact thing I would do with a pet.

  12. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    I think there is a lot to say about the status of a home that is under deep financial stress. If everyone is stressed out over money, that’s not a healthy environment for the pets. They don’t understand what is happening, but they can tell that the people are very tense and upset, and that makes them upset as well. Is that pet not better off in a different environment?

    I think that pet psychological health is an important issue that is sometimes not looked at in the broader scope of things. I generally don’t feel that pets (or children) belong in a stressed-out environment.

  13. James says:

    I full agree with you Trent.

    Most Americans have an entitlement mentality with regards to EVERYTHING. And most believe they’re entitled to pets even if they can’t afford them. They don’t think about it more than “Oh I want a dog (or a cat, bunny, snake, fish, etc)!!! Nobody can tell me otherwise. I live in the United States of America and can do what I want.” It’s sad really. That’s why so many pets end up mistreated or homeless. And it’s the main reason why so many Americans are in debt: they don’t think, they just do.

  14. Laszlo says:

    I agree with you about careful consideration in taking on the responsibilities of pet ownership and ensuring proper care for it if circumstances change, but I felt you discounted the value of pet ownership too much.

    Pets (that you like) are proven stress-reducers and stress is a major contributor to illness and mental health problems. There was also a study linking childhood pet ownership to higher grades, even if it was just a goldfish. Having a pet can teach kids responsibility and compassion.

  15. Laura says:

    Trent I get your point about stress having an effect on the family, but that honestly sounds like a huge cop-out to me, I’m sorry. Would you force your wife to divorce you if you were undergoing huge amounts of stress because it’s not healthy for her to be around that? Come on, man. Stress is a temporary state of mind anyway, and can disappear as quickly as it appears, not to mention that we have the ability to control our emotions. And even if you don’t, pets have the ability to help reduce stress. I DARE you to try being stressed while petting a cat, or when a dog comes up to cuddle with you and lick your tears away when you’re crying.

    If you’re that emotionally detached, fine. I think it’s disgusting that you would entertain treating animals this way, but that’s your deal. But quit espousing it like it’s a fabulous money-saving suggestion for the rest of the world to take up.

    I find it HIGHLY offensive that you say if you were no longer able to afford one of your own children that you would give them away (I am sure you would find a good home for them and not merely drop them on someone’s doorstep. I get that, and I’m still disgusted). Find a way to make it work instead, how about that? It does however explain your stance that pets are disposable, since you apparently believe children are too. At least we know you treat ALL your family members with the same level of courtesy.

  16. Louise says:

    I believe I understand the value of what you are saying, but I think it’s a suggestion that can do more harm than good. Judging by the comments I’ve read on your site, I think your regular readers are sensible enough to realize pets are a lifetime commitment. Suggesting otherwise is flat-out irresponsible.

    I realize there ARE cases where it is in everyone’s best interest to re-home the pet. But if the pet truly is such a burden and one’s financial situation is so fragile, then I don’t think it takes a suggestion from some blogger for the owner to consider finding a new home for the pet. In fact, such a person is unlikely to have the luxury of regular internet access and time to read blogs.

    To me, this is a little like saying, “For some people, the best option might be to smack your kid across the face.” While there are kids who might respond to physical consequences, suggesting that it’s okay to beat your children is not okay.

  17. Refilwe says:

    I agree with Trent & James. Although I understand that many people are really attached to their pets, I find it incredible that they consider their pets on the same level as their children.

    Finding a capable home for your pet if you cannot afford its upkeep is prudent and responsible. If I have a choice between feeding daughter and feeding my dogs you had better believe my daughter would eat first!

    Some of the commenters here sound like they would try to half & half it between them: daughter on Monday, dogs on Tuesday and so on.

    If you don’t have children ok, fight to end for your pets since they’re basically surrogates. But if you do have children…I can’t understand why someone would even consider compromising their situation (and therefore their dependent children) for pets.

  18. Cari says:

    I’m with Trent on this one. Sometimes you have to consider what is best for the pet. This past year, when I knew I would be travelling a lot and not home very much, I asked a family member whether she would like to be a ‘foster parent’ to my cat. I did have some guilty feelings about not being able to take care of her myself, but it was an arrangement that worked out well for everyone. To have kept her at my empty apartment would have been just selfish on my part. Surely the same holds even more so if you can’t afford basic necessities like pet food…?

    I also have to say to Laura that you must not understand the deep finanical trouble some families can have that leads them to making heart-wrenching decisions to place their children with other families. It’s not about being emotionally detached. It’s about being willing to do what’s best for your family in times of hardship. And Trent certainly seems to be much more responsible than most in terms of making sure his family will always be taken care of financially.

  19. Jared says:

    Trent,

    I get what you’re saying, and I agree with you.

    My wife and I have 2 cats, and we love them like children (they are our only children right now). Both of us would be absolutely devistated if anything ever happened to them.

    HOWEVER – if something so horrible happened in our lives that we could no longer care and provide for our cats, absolutely I would give them to someone I trust, that I knew could care for them. I would give them away before they starved to death with us – it’s more cruel to not be able to care for them than it is to give them away.

    Same for my children too – (I say this now, before actually having them) – I know I would die for them, but if they could not survive with us, yes, I would give them to someone who could take care of them.

  20. Laura says:

    Cari – it’s true that I have never been in a situation where I’ve considered placing my children with another family. In truth, I don’t have any children. But I still cannot fathom a situation so severe that I would send my own children away. I would go bankrupt and homeless before I would give them away. I would stay with friends and other family members if I lost my house until I got back up on my own two feet, but I can only imagine the emotional damage it would do to a child to be given away by their own parent. Far, FAR worse than a pet could ever even comprehend, and I would never even do it to a pet. That’s where I’m coming from.

    I’m sorry about some of the wording in my previous post though. This particular topic makes me livid every time it’s been mentioned on this blog and I didn’t realize my language sounded so sarcastic and rude until I re-read it just now. Trent I do apologize for that, although I do stick to my point.

  21. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    I know very well the value of pets, and I’m glad I took the opportunity to address this point in more detail.

  22. Katie says:

    What rubbed me the wrong way about this post was the idea that giving up a pet was something you could/would/should do in order to stash a little more money away each month for retirement, or save for a goal (vacation, etc), and not as something you would do as an absolute last resort. Would I give away my pet if it was a choice between my eating or my pet? yes, I would. But to consider that choice as a step towards slimming down my budget when not in a time of dire financial circumstances….I find that heartless and distressing.

  23. Lisa says:

    I am facing this problem now. The terms of my divorce say I have to put the house on the market next March (08). I have 2 cats ages 8 and 14, I’ve had them since kittens. Both are in excellent health. Rentals here don’t allow pets. I can’t afford to buy another home and to be honest I don’t want to. I love my cats, but I have no idea what to do. My sister has offered to share her home(I would pay rent). She didn’t mention the cats. The 8 year old cat is my exhusbands and he says he wants her but rentals won’t allow cats. What to do? The 14 year old

  24. Lisa says:

    Sorry, I hit submit to early. The 14 year old would go with my son, I think.

  25. Valerie says:

    Hi, Trent, I’ve been lurking a long time but the responses to this post finally drove me out of hiding.

    I speak as a recovering cat-a-holic – my entire life I had cats. My entire adult life, I spent an amazing amount of energy to support the kind of lifestyle that’s required to keep pets in the city. There’s a whole lot more than just the food and vet bills. You automatically eliminate MOST of your rental housing choices, and the few you can get into will charge you hundreds or thousands more. You also need to rent a much larger place to have room for the pet and the litter box, etc. It also keeps you from dumping everything and moving fast when you need to.

    When my fiance asked me to move in with him last year, his only proviso was that I couldn’t bring the cats. His dog eats any small animals. And since we’re way out in the country, the guard dog is much more important than a pet. So the question was, give up my chance at a wonderful new life, or give up my kitties? I didn’t hesitate a second – found homes for the cats within a week. And they’re fine. Cats are a lot more interested in whether the meals come regularly, than in whether a particular person pours out the kibble.

    As for this attitude that pets are the same as children or spouses – remember I said that our dog eats cats? How on earth should I treat that – as though one of my children was cannibalizing another? He’s an animal. A very affectionate, spoiled, cheerful carnivore. We keep him away from any animals we don’t want eaten. He keeps all the cute fuzzy forest animals away from our chickens, whom we intend to eat.

    This strikes me as an issue that shows the difference between the survivors and non-survivors. Trent, your comment about giving your children up for adoption if you couldn’t care for them shows you’re a survivor. You can look at a disastrous situation and do what you need to so that your family will live. People who become overwrought at the idea of giving pets to a different home need to look at for example, World War II.

    Know what one of the charities Americans donated to after the war? Sending cats and dogs to Europe. And how come? Because the starving Europeans had eaten all their pets. And did they feel as though they’d eaten their children? I doubt it, not when they saw their actual children dying.

    It’s amazing how extremity reveals our priorities…

  26. S/100/30 says:

    The idea of giving away or selling a pet to save money is disgraceful and borders on animal cruelty. My pets are part of my family and would be severely traumatized if I gave them away. Why not put your children up for adoption, or euthanizing your elderly live-in parents. (comment moved from original post)

    Do you think comparing giving away a pet to giving away a child in any way strengthens your message?

  27. Lacy says:

    Well, I personally could never fathom a situation where I’d get rid of my cat unless I was literally living on the street – and even then I”d only “loan” her to my mother – she’s like my child, IMO. I do agree with those who feel it’s better to consider a pet to constitute a monthly expense to be budgeted for, just like every other member of your family. I dislike the mindset that implies that the pet itself belongs as an expense category, I don’t think that a pet is a line item in your budget to be moved or removed at will if things get tight.

    Trent, perhaps you could do an article on ways to save money on pet expenses and monthly/yearly costs? I think that would benefit readers a great deal more.

  28. Ruby P says:

    OMG!

    When I was in college..my ex-boyfriend decided he wanted a dog. He also decided he could afford the dog, though he had no job, and how he would cut down on costs would be giving the dog shots himself, feeding him table scraps, walking him with a chain collar around his neck instead of a leash..etc.

    He was a moron at best. That dog ended up spending anywhere from 5-10 hours a day in a crate because he “was busy”. The dog developed mange and a host of other health problems because he was often left outside (in his crate) on the balcony of their condo since he could not afford the pet fees and was hiding him from the landlord.

    I spent my ENTIRE Thanksgiving Break AND CHRISTMAS BREAK and considering I lived 4 states away it was a very lonely holiday away from my family because I took the dog in and he needed constant medical care because he was not healthy enough to travel. I could not have pets in my apartment…(risking eviction)…I also had to get a second job to afford the almost WEEKLY DIPS the dog needed along with other expenses that I could not afford, just to give that animal a better life than what he had.

    In the end..hundreds of dollars later, I know I did the right thing so before you pass judgement on someone for being “HONEST” about recognizing when they can not afford a pet, remember that many, many, many people get animals WITHOUT figuring costs(either as gifts on V-Day or otherwise)and in the end a pet is NOT A CHILD…even if your pet is a part of your family. So what makes more sense…spending your grocery money and having to eat pet food with Kiko because that is all you can afford…or trying to find a suitable home, even if temporarly, for your pet until you are back on your feet financially.

    To have the nerve to reach soooo low to critize Trent by using his desire to have a 3rd child caused me, as another blogger, to feel embarassed. It is hard to write your honest thoughts on the Net and try to give advice to strangers simply trying to help them avoid common financial pitfalls…instead you judge…over a dog? Rest assured long after man has left this earth, dogs will still roam the Earth and they wont need a credit card to do it.

  29. Amber Yount says:

    My bichon was the last thing I put on my personal credit card (I know, I know!!) He cost me $350, and has since cost some moneys from being sick, paying for the best food, grooming, etc. However, I consider him the BEST investment I have ever made in anything. Better than any retirement fund or stock. Because he’s got such a unique personality and makes me laugh even when I’m freaking out about our bills. And yes I know the “daddies” and the “mommies” of this blog will probably rip my head off—but I consider my pup better than ANY child could ever be (no crying, no diapers, no teenage pregnancies)…as a matter of fact I don’t even want children as long as I have my bichon. But thats a whole other argument :)

  30. Anne says:

    Of course you got a lot of nasty feedback about the original article. In a bullet-point list including such items as “cut your clothes spending in half” and “reduce or eliminate your cable bill” you had the suggestion to rehome your pets. The whole thing was entitled “Trimming The Fat.” I think what was really offensive was the idea that pets were just another monthly bill, like Netflix or the gym membership. Yes, there may be situations where it is necessary to rehome a pet, but not after all other options have been exhausted.

  31. Tordr says:

    Giving away pets (and now giving away children), can be hard, but extreme financial distress can make each and every one of us do extreme things.
    Look no further than the poor countries today. There people sell their kids and send their kids on the streets. Not because they do not love them, but because of desperation.
    Compared to them we who can read personal finance blogs are all rich, but if we where in their shoes we would do the same things.

  32. kevin says:

    I once had a cat that I liked, but he got diabetes. I had him put to sleep because I did not think the cat was worth the money to keep alive. Is this inhumane? No, because it was a cat, not a human. I believe that everyone needs to decide in advance whether humans are a different kind of life than all other life on this planet. Personally I believe that humans are image bearers of God, and thus deserve all respect, dignity and worth. Pets, like plants, are a different kind of life. Think of it this way: If you were driving down a road and you had to either swerve to kill your pet or kill a stranger, which would you kill? I hope the pet dies every time. Sadly, I know some people would kill the person.

  33. beth says:

    Wow, you hit a nerve! I’m glad you took the time to expand your thoughts, because as Anne pointed out, including the pet idea in the bulleted list doesn’t really do the situation justice. I think perhaps rehoming pets isn’t in the “trimming the fat” category for most people, but closer to the “financial desperation” category.

    Anyway, I wanted to agree that I took a couple of dog-sitting gigs and knew immediately that dog-owning was not in my foreseeable future. A dog deserves far more attention than I’d be able to give.

    Conversely, I know a woman who fosters mother cats with kittens for the animal shelter – giving them a home and socialization until the kittens are old enough to be adopted. She gets to have an animal’s company for a while, performs a valuable service, and is able to balance that with lots of non-pet-friendly travel, etc.

    Final thought: you’ve clearly got animal lovers as readers, who might benefit from learning the pros & cons of a pet health care plan. I have a friend who swears by it for his two incredibly high maintenance dogs.

  34. Lacy says:

    @kevin: YMMV, of course (and yours clearly does) but having your cat put to sleep because you felt inconvienced by its illness and decided the pet wasn’t “worth it” is the epitome of selfishness and the unbelievably self-involved attitude that pets are disposable or decorative additives to your life instead of actual creatures with feelings. It’s disgusting really.

    @beth – I’d love to learn more about pet health care. I know I’d feel better having something like that as my cat has had financially large health issues in the past.

  35. Jennifer says:

    Pets can be very expensive! Just ask us. We got a dog when we first started dating. She had problems that required very expensive surgery. We did it, but it just about broke us to pay for it all. After we were married and had kids, the financial stress was really tough. If she had had serious problems at that time, we would not have been able to do the surgery. I am not sure what we would have done.

    When she was 9 years old she developed thyroid problems. Expensive tests to figure out what was going on and then expensive medicine each month to regulate it. Between food and meds we were spending $100 a month on the dog. To someone living on the edge like we were at the time, this was a lot of money.

    We were about to have our 4th child when she got really sick. More expensive tests to determine that she had cancer of the thyroid and the tests showed that it looked to have spread to her heart.

    We could have spent a ton of money to prolong her life by trying to cure the cancer. We didn’t have the money and she was miserable. It cost us $200 to put her to sleep. We made the best decision for all of us, including her. Over the years we spent over $10,000 on tests, meds, and surgeries. No one can tell us that pets aren’t expensive.

    We desparately want another dog. We are not getting one until we can well afford it. And if financial matters change to the point where we couldn’t pay the upkeep of an animal that we had, we would find another home for it. It would be a tough decision, but food on the table for my kids comes before food for the dog. And I will not put things on a credit card.

    People go into pet ownership like we did the first time. We were young college kids, what in the world did we know about animals and how much they cost? Now we know and are being a lot more careful. I think everyone should be more careful! Don’t be like my neighbor who filed for bankruptcy and then got a third dog. When you are broke, why add to your monthly expenses?

  36. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    So what can we learn from this? The big thing I learned is that there’s a huge spectrum of feelings on the importance and responsibility of pet ownership and I actually turn out to be somewhere in the middle on it.

    There are a lot of people out there who really love their pets and put them on equal bearing with their children, while others feel as though pets are secondary considerations.

    What’s right? It’s not for me to judge – but it does make for interesting and revealing discussion.

  37. Meagan says:

    I just have to say that one of the reasons i like this blog is because it generates so many discussions.

    In my case I am not a pet person and neither of my parents are pet people. I have friends that have pets that are like children to them and I just don’t relate.

    To each their own. Stop ripping Trent a new one. He made a good point. Pets cost money. If you are serious about getting out of debt, maybe you shouldn’t have one (or three).

  38. kath says:

    Here’s the solution. Just make an agreement with your family not to replace the pets when they pass on. This way, you keep the pets you love, but also know that the financial commitment will end at some point – unlike with children…

  39. Mardee says:

    Or if you love pets but can’t afford them, consider making a tax-deductible contribution to a local no-kill animal shelter. The animals there will thank you!

  40. Lex says:

    @kevin: Right now, I’m grateful that I’m not your diabetes-stricken mother. Undoubtedly, I would be too inconvenient to treat and cast aside accordingly.

    @Meagan: Pets do cost money, but like everything else in life, circumstances change, sometimes dramatically. Pets that are dependent on you shouldn’t equate to a “trimming the fat” measure like canceling your Tivo account or getting rid of HBO. That was the part of Trent’s post that I found disgusting, not the idea that if you can’t afford a pet, don’t get one.

  41. Jenn says:

    I’m a cat lover and I totally get what you’re saying. Too bad other people don’t… Anyway, I got a kitten from the humane society a few years back and ended up having to leave it with my mom when I moved out. The kitten was abandoned and not properly weaned and ended up being one of the worst cats behaviorally we’ve ever encountered. She pooped on our furniture and ruined it, she pees everywhere (especially on her bed/pillows), she BITES CONSTANTLY and will GNAW on your fingers if you don’t watch out. On top of that she’s not very friendly and will scratch you to ribbons if you try to pick her up. My mom is at wit’s end. We of course don’t want to put her to sleep and we feel horrible giving her away or taking her back to the humane society. But the alternative is that my mom has her own quality of life degraded for another 5 years by this animal. It’s not even a monetary problem; sometimes an animal just doesn’t work out, and that doesn’t mean you’re a horrible person who thinks pets are disposable. It means you’re not willing to be held hostage by an animal who is affecting your life negatively.

    The point of a pet is to be a positive impact on your life or at least a neutral one. If somehow the pet becomes a negative force in your life, it’s just not worth it. It’s like any other relationship… both of you deserve to be happy. If a friend or a significant other made you unhappy, you’d break up with them.

    And before people jump on me we’ve had the cat checked out several times by different vets and they can’t find a thing wrong with her. And yes, we’ve been trying behavioral modification since we got her to absolutely no avail. Any helpful suggestions would be appreciated, actually.

  42. Tyler says:

    Some of these posts are ridiculous! People can never express what they want without offending someone these days. I’m surprised some of you aren’t suing! That’s what everyone does…. Grow some thicker skin some of you! Pathetic…

  43. beth says:

    @Lacy: I don’t have any personal experience with pet health insurance (which I incorrectly referred to as pet health care) but my friend with two beagles is a crazy frugal dude and he’s found it to be well worth his time and money.

    I recommend you start by doing an internet search for “pet health insurance” but I’d also suggest you check with your vet to see if they are familiar with any programs, or accept any particular ones. Then you could talk to local fellow pet owners, and finally before you buy check with the Better Business Bureau. good luck!

  44. Valerie says:

    @Lisa: If you can’t get family members to take your cats, try asking your vet. They often know people who are looking for pets, and some of them keep bulletin boards for announcements of pets available or wanted. You can also look up shelters – there may be a no-kill or rescue shelter nearby. They would be a good resource on how to place pets. And of course put the word out with your friends.

  45. Sharon says:

    I have cats. They are not my children. And yes I would find them new homes if I was in desperate straits. So far it hasn’t gotten that bad.
    But to think parents don’t hand over their children because of finances is ridiculous. The most temporary of this situation would be for work, like daycare or staying with grandparents while mom and dad both work during the day. If you really thought that keeping your children with you was more important than money, you could live on a farm and teach your kids at home. But most parents don’t do that.
    I have seen children living with grandparents for many financially related reasons. Because the parent needed time to go into rehab. Because they were finishing up a particularly grueling college program. Because the child could attend a better school. Because the parent was working bizzare hours during their probationary position at a new job. Because the parent was serving in the army overseas.
    Most Western Parents will never have to face giving up their children permanently because 1st world countries have safety nets esp for children like housing subsidies and food stamps. Other counties actually give a parent a certain amount of money to help raise the child.
    I think the best parent is the one who screws up their courage and says “I will do the best thing for my child, even if it means immediate pain for me and a sacrifice of my time with the child.” I may not always agree with the end decision, but to say that they are not loving, unselfish parents, is wrong.

  46. 60 in 3 says:

    I wonder if all the people who advocate for pets to count as people are vegetarians but anyway…

    To me, animals are animals. We may indeed get attached to them (and I love my two cats) but they are still animals. As a point of fact, they are indeed property, regardless of how you may consider them.

    So yes, if I was in financial trouble, I would consider giving my pets away. It would be the responsible thing to do, for both me and them. And no, this does not mean I would do the same to a child, a child is not the same as a pet.

    Gal

  47. Bill says:

    You’ve got to give it to TSD. They cover everything and stir it all up. Love it.

  48. reulte says:

    I have a dog — I can’t imagine living without one since my family has always had at least one dog and usually a cat also.

    I adore my dog – she’s purebred and cost about 3/4 a month’s salary. I waited 2 years for the dog I wanted (and was saving for her in the meantime). I got her from a good and reputable breeder – her parents & grandparents were screened for various diseases & skeletal factors; there is a contract spells out certain responsibilities including the breeder will take her back if I am unable or unwilling to care for her. Because she has a healthy background, her vet fees are minimal except for the accident (we pay for our mistakes) — which, when I spoke to the vet — he waived his fee (charging only for supplies and boarding). I feed her a mostly raw bone/meat/egg diet (which she thrives on) costing about $1/day rather than costly, and recently suspect, canned or dry food. I (and my boy) spend time with her in training – we’re working on her good canine citizen certificate at the moment. Beyond the initial cost, her most expensive addition was the good guality clippers (bought used on EBay). She serves as alarm clock, door bell, and sentry guard/fence-jumper deterent in an area where the later is a good idea. Other members of my family admire her and would like to adopt her (if my situation came to that) otherwise, they would like one of her puppies. Expect I have no plans on breeding her unless/until I get at least 5 people sincerely committed to having one of her puppies AND I am in a financial position to offer the same contract as her breeder offered me – a genetically sound puppy and the offer to keep it if something happens. This is sound pet ownership – planning, commitment, and time.

    My dog is a commitment and I don’t consider her expenses as “fat to be trimmed”. BUT, I planned for her for 2 years; saved money, planned expenses, considered alternatives if I were incapaciated in some way or if she and my boy were incompatable in some way.

    I did NOT simply wander into a pet shop (worst place to get a pet) and ‘fell in love and had to have’ the cutest puppy there.

  49. Rob in Madrid says:

    My oh my how attitudes have changed. When I was a kid we had a dog (a mutt from what I remember) for a few weeks when he took a chomp out of my brother’s hand, a swift kick from my dad and that dog was gone.

    Compare that to us with our dogs, when our second dog took a chomp out of my face (a very nasty poorly bread poodle I never let her within 10 feet of kids) we hunted up a dog therapist to get to see if we could change her. We smarten up a few days latter and took her to the humane society and had her put to sleep. The next two dogs we got, we took the time to find a good breeder and have been very happy with them.

    One point I need to make which really bothers me is owners who make their pets suffer because “there part of the family”. If you have a pet that is very ill do the humane thing and have it put to sleep. I’ve told a few owners with older pets that when it comes time do the human thing and have your pet put to sleep. Our dog suffered horribly for four days till we finally made the decision to put her to sleep but she beat us too it when she suffered a heart attack and died. It was horrible, she screamed and then died. I never do that again. I love our dog and she is very much a part of the family but when it comes to the point that her quality of life is compromised by illness I will put her to sleep before making her suffer. I have an older niece who’s had several hamsters who have all died painful deaths (last one broke its back and took 10 hours to die) all because she too nice to put them out of there misery (ie drown them). I told her not to get another one unless she’s prepared to put it out of its misery.

    Let me repeat this again. Pets are wonderful companions but they are not human and shouldn’t be treated as such. If you pet is sick don’t make it suffer for the sake of your won vanity, have it put to sleep

    http://www.slate.com/id/2164538/fr/rss/

    Why I Shot My LambAnd why I want to shoot my neighbor’s lamb, too.

    My point exactly.

  50. Jenners says:

    Just a word of encouragement to you, Trent. Stick to your guns. How anyone could equate giving up a pet to giving up a child, I will never comprehend. It’s like people who have “I brake for animals” or “Save the Whales” and pro-abortion bumper stickers on their car — what’s wrong with this picture?

    Another point — someone recently said to me that perhaps newlyweds should hold off on having animals. Before anyone excoriates me, this was said by the in-laws who have to babysit the pets every other weekend b/c their married children are so busy. Finally the parents get to the empty-nest stage where they can go away for a weekend once in a while, but they have to babysit their 4-legged grand-pets instead. (And yes, shame on them for not just saying no, but they make a good point anyway about people who are too busy to stay home but want to have pets anyway. If they can’t afford to kennel them, then they come into Trent’s category of people who should get rid of animals — ANIMALS, people, not KIDS — they can’t afford).

  51. lori says:

    If there is one thing to learn from Trent’s posts, it is that not every idea of his will work for everyone. This is true whether it involves his advice for saving, investing, homemade laundry detergent, child care, or pet care. Some people will go to the ends of the earth to provide for their pets (I am one of them), while others are not ready or able to sacrifice on behalf of their pet(s). I have two dogs and two cats – all of them strays that I have taken in. They are a huge responsibility and I spend ALOT of money each and every month on them. I love them all and would not abandon them for anything in the world. But I also know I am at my limit in terms of pets. As my pets age and eventually pass away, I will not take in so many at one time again. The cost is enormous, and the responsibility is not to be taken lightly.

  52. kevin says:

    @Lex: Did you read my whole post? I would not “get rid” of my “diabetes-stricken mother.” My point remains the same: Human life is very different from animal and plant life. I will do everything I can to keep, protect and save human life. But there are limits that I will go to to save non-human life.

    @Lacy, Just because I have my limits, that makes me selfish?

    I’m not telling anyone else that they shouldn’t spend whatever they want on a pet, by all means spend away. I’m just saying that I have financial limits that I can/will spend on non-humans.

  53. Jessica says:

    Wow…I’m a little suprised by this reaction. I read perfectly well that Trent is advocating that having a pet is life committment and we should all think long and hard before doing it. I feel that all life should be highly respected, even animals. And trust me, if I had to choose between keeping a roof over my head and feeding my pets, I’d keep the roof and make sure the pets went to a loving home.

    I’m not even going to entertain the talk about replacing “dog” with “child”, it’s that ridiculous.

  54. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Jessica: it’s been interesting, to say the least.

  55. Tyler says:

    I think you’re comment trolling Trent. Got to get those AdSense hits up!

  56. margo says:

    Well, what a spirited debate.

    My opinion lines up really well with Anne’s (who posted at 4:36 pm June 24th, 2007).

    Basically, when you take on a dependent animal, you are taking on a responsibility to a living creature. No, it isn’t a child, or a human, but its a living creature that feels pain, loss, cold, hunger.

    I don’t think animals should be given up in anything but a last resort situation, because as a responsible adult, you don’t go straight to caushing someone (or some pet) pain to make it easier for you to afford latte’s and gas for your SUV. If we’re talking serious financial crisis, of the kind where you might be contemplating how to feed your kids, then doing your best to adopt out your pet– NOT dump him at the nearest kill shelter or, god forbid, in the woods somewhere– is understandable.

    But it is cheap, cheap, cheap to feed most pets. Our dog could live off our table scraps, if we really couldn’t afford anything else (we can and do feed him better than that, though). Unless you have one with special medical needs, you can even forgo the annual vet visit if you come into dire straits.

    The thing that bothers me about this debate is that responsible people don’t just dump a pet. Its like advocating going straight to bankruptcy if your credit cards get to high: sure its easier on you, but at the expense of someone (or some pet) else. A responsible adult would trim their disposable income to keep providing for a pet that they themselves took on as a dependent.

    Anything less reflects negatively on you as a person, I think. Cats and dogs especially have been domesticated to the point where most are very dependent on humans and casting them off like toys you are bored with is a poor way for a person to behave in all but the most dire of circumstances, I truly believe.

  57. jc says:

    The sad part is that for most cities and towns, there are very limited “good homes” to go to. Even if you do find one, you are likely displacing a shelter dog/cat’s home and they will die.

    Yes, no animal should be in a bad situation but I have seen many people make due while in financial straights with pets. Usually, where there is a will, there’s a way.

    I agree with the many many commenters who found your suggestion in bad taste.

  58. AM says:

    Interesting topic. We adopted two stray kittens the week after we got married, and a third stray kitty joined our home a year later. We were broke and in our first year of college. In the ten years time since then, we both managed to graduate, go to grad school (hello, more student loans!) and buy our first home and investment property, and we are expecting our first baby in July. All of our kitties have been healthy and have never required more than the minimal vet care – neutering, spaying, declaw, occassional shots. No purebreds, no behavioral issues, just plain old domestic housecats that don’t go outside. So, we spend $25-30 per month on food and litter, and this is certainly not a budget buster – we just build it in to the household expenses. We call them our “Live Entertainment” – because they are always up to some silliness that makes us howl with laughter and amazement. We don’t have cable or a lot of other silly household extras, so having the cats is an easy lifestyle choice. Even when we were eating Mac and cheese and flipping a coin to pay the electric or the phone – the cats were never a part of the budget discussion. It would never have occured to us. We’ve moved at least 8 times during those years and never had to compromise our living choices due to the cats. We just found a place that was pet-friendly. So, while I’m sure getting rid of pets might seem to some like a logical step to take during lean times, especially if they are “high cost” pets, the reality is for a lot of us, the expense is so minimal compared to the fun and joy they bring to the household that it’s quite absurd to suggest it at all.

  59. James E Watson says:

    Trent — thank you for your e-mail. It was considerate of you to take the time to reply personally.

    Everybody — Consumers’ Report recently did an article on pet insurance and concluded that it wasn’t worth it. Basically, [and I'm paraphrasing from memory] they don’t like the idea of ‘insuring’ against regular expenses such as annual check-ups; and when it comes to major expenses the deductible and exclusions means that the insurance really isn’t a good use of your money. It’s better to put the premiums into an high interest bearing account and use the funds as needed.

  60. James E Watson says:

    The Consumers’ Report article on pet insurance is in the July 2007 issue.

    [You'll have to go to the library to read it because to trim the fat, you've canceled your subscription.]

  61. crankywench says:

    I get what Trent’s saying, and his later comment that it would apply to his children as well. Back in the Depression, many families had to send children to relatives, other families, or into adoption homes when there was simply no food to feed them. My grandmother had to send out my mother and her siblings to other relatives, sometimes out of state, during harvest season when she had to work in the fields and couldn’t be there to feed or care for them. Letting go of a pet (or child) is hard for good-hearted people, and I believe it is our intention and efforts to make the best good for all involved that matters the most.

  62. kim says:

    Trent, I agree with you on this one. Pets are absolutely wonderful, but they are not children and equating them as the same is nuts. Three years ago my husband was suddenly and unexpectedly laid off. It was our “financial armageddon”. Our only hope was to sell our house quickly, move from the mid west to New England and live with family for a few months until my husband got a new job and we had enough money to move back out on our own. We had two big dogs that we loved very much. We had to get rid of them. Thankfully we found them a nice home together. It was very painful, but it had to be done. I could no longer afford them. I guess someone could argue that I really couldn’t afford my infant twins at that time either. Of course we kept the twins. Animals are animals and children are children. They are not equivalent! I guess maybe a childless person would have trouble seeing the difference, but anyone with kids sees this fact with much more knowledge and clarity.

  63. cindy says:

    Pets may not be children, but they come to you just as innocent and just as trusting. Like children they look to us to provide and care for them. If that becomes impossible for whatever reason, then the responsible thing to do is find someone who can, whether it be temporary or permanent. I could write pages on this subject, I’m an animal control officer and co-director of the local humane society as well, so I have definite opinions. I also “own” 5 dogs, 10 cats, and I foster several more. I can’t imagine a catastrophe that would cause me to give them up, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. Possibly if hell freezes over, or something similar, I would consider it. However, I would do the same for my kids. If I thought they would be better off with someone else, I would do it in a heartbeat. I love my kids enough to place their well-being above my own ego, or whatever. Same with my pets. And to you kim, having kids doesn’t necessarily give you more knowledge or clarity.

  64. Bill says:

    Maybe we should focus instead on why people are spending such large amounts of money on their pet.

    $100/month?!!

    I’ve got 2 cats and I don’t spend $20/month for both of them.

    That includes their medical care (shots/teeth/worming/flea treatment).

    Plain ol’ dry kibble and water works just fine.

  65. Mitch says:

    If nothing else, this should remind all of us not to give pets as gifts unless we are 130% sure the pet is wanted and can be cared for. I am thinking of my sister, whose friend gave her a puppy for Christmas. Apparently the little girl down the street pays more attention to the dog than my sister does, although the dog is being fed, walked daily, etc. It’s not that my sister means to neglect the dog; it’s that she’s not that interested.

    I agree that pets are a commitment, but still believe at some point it is more responsible to find another place for them. And it’s an elitist red herring to say that you would never do the same with your children: people who are not as solidly middle class, who are visited by crisis that plunges them into circumstances more dire than we are discussing here are, indeed, forced to put their children into foster care or the homes of relatives to be able to feed them and send them to school. It’s more of a question of at what point do you split up your household (children, pets, spouses–many shelters separate men from women and children).

  66. Amy says:

    Everyone keeps going round and round on this one so I must put in my two cents worth. I have a dog that is my baby. I don’t have children by choice, and she is the lucky recipient of whatever maternal extinct I may have. However, I know she is not a person and that pets are not the same as children. I think anyone who thinks that, be they parents or not, is wrong (my opinion).
    There is hardly a situation I can think of that would require me to find a new home for her. However a dire financial crisis, illness, or death can happen to anyone, making it very possible that a beloved pet would need to be rehomed.
    This is not the point of contention with me. As others have said, Trent’s original post suggested rehoming your pet as a way to “trim the fat”, like cancelling your cable or going to the library instead of buying books. That is very different than a life altering situation and I think everyone knows that, even Trent.

  67. Ted Valentine says:

    I don’t like the analogy between pet adoption and human adoption. It is not the same thing.

  68. Jenners says:

    Bill,

    Actually, if you have a male cat, plain old dry kibble may NOT be good for him, even if it saves money for you. I researched this on the Net one time, and don’t remember the details so you’ll have to check for yourself, but an exclusively dry food diet is not good for cats, esp. males. I also don’t advocate spending a lot on pet food, and sometimes make it myself. More work, but cheaper.

  69. Leslie M-B says:

    I agree with people on both sides of this debate. Pets are a complicated issue, and yes, you are making a lifetime commitment to them when you adopt them, but when the pet’s quality of life begins to suffer because you cannot adequately care for it, then you need to find a better home for it. Does this mean dumping your dog when it needs expensive cancer treatments? No. I’m not talking about end-of-life care here; I’m talking about healthy pets (or pets who are now sick but who could recover and still lead healthy lives) who have a good chance of a second life in a better-fitting home.

    I also want to emphasize how expensive pet care becomes as the animal ages. We currently spend about $350/month in maintenance (mostly drugs, but also prescription food and chiropractic care) to keep our 14-year-old dog in fine form. (This is on top of the thousands of dollars we already spent to repair his torn ACL and rehabilitate him when he was 11 years old.) People often mistake him for a 2-year-old dog, and we’re happy to pay for such quality of life–even though it has become a large financial burden–because we made a commitment to him long ago. That said, we have also had long discussions about his end of life care–what we are willing to pay for (and put him through) and what we’re not. These are conversations everyone should have BEFORE adopting a pet.

  70. Mitch says:

    Seriously, he includes reducing or eliminating cars, travel, and charitable giving (!) as trimming fat, which are several other things that many people would find–beyond the pale to give up. If you had to choose between caring for your pets and caring for society… well, I am uncomfortable around animals, so that question doesn’t really apply to me. Considering the research that charitable pleas that feature a single individual’s story receive stronger responses than those that feature statistics, I’m guessing most people would care for the pets that are there, but does that mean the people who continue to give their pledged amount to, say, United Way but send their animals off with friends are necessarily horrible people?

    Some of the tips are for people trying to get 80% lean, others for 99% lean. But we all know a little fat can increase satiety. (8

  71. R Kyles says:

    Pets are not equivalent to children, spouses or elderly parents so to compare pets to them is unfair… They are indeed wonderful and true blue companions, but my opinion is shaped by experience. As a young girl our home was foreclosed, and my dog (my best friend) was the one that really suffered. My mother knew our financial situation was dire, but to keep us happy she kept our dog. Once the house was foreclosed no one would allow us to stay with them with a pet, so a “friend” volunteered to take care of our dog. Well, needless to say my dog was not taken care of, she was very mistreated, and died after a few months with this “Friend”… If your financial situation is bad do the humane thing and find your pet a new “LOVING” home…. I wish we could’ve done the right thing for Delilah.

  72. vh says:

    I’ve had cats most of my life and dogs all my adult life, but as Rob in Madrid points out, times have changed when it comes to what we’re expected to do for our pets.

    My two ninety-pound dogs–one an adopted greyhound, pace pet-lovers–cost way more than I can afford in vet bills, medications, and food (especially after the recent pet-food flap, which has led me to cook 28 pounds of homemade dog food a week in my kitchen and on my grill). The veterinary industry (yes–that’s what one veterinary trade group’s online site calls it!) has got pet-lovers by the proverbial cojones: shots, annual checkups, and a whole rainbow of drugs to give your dog for the rest of its life for this or that chronic ailment…and to get permission to pony up 80 to 150 bucks per Rx for those drugs, you schlep the dog in every six months for a $200 checkup. My German shepherd, in theory, should be medicated six times a day with pricey pills and amazingly expensive eyedrops that require me to take her in for $800 worth of routine checks a year. When my employer saw fit to cut my pay along with everyone else’s, I cut the meds back by about 30%, and interestingly the dog doesn’t seem to be much the worse. Feeding her real food instead of kibble & canned gunk made such a huge improvement in her health, maybe she just doesn’t need all those meds…who knows?

    I love my sidekicks and would never put them down just because they’re 12 years old, ailing, and costing me out of house and home. But assuredly, oh so assuredly: I will NEVER get another dog. Or cat. After these two pass through the Doggy Veil, a bird feeder in the backyard will provide animal companionship around my house.

    It’s not that I don’t love my pets. It’s that owning a dog (and this probably applies to cats, too) is now beyond the means of a single middle-class American wage earner.

  73. bree says:

    I think it depends just how dire your financial situation is. If you’re unable to provide basic necessities for your family (including your pet) you have to take drastic measures, including possibly finding a new home for your pet. It’s not a decision that should be taken lightly, but I can see how it could be the right choice in certain situations. I also agree with Trent’s comment that it’s the owner’s responsibility to find a new home for the animal (rather than simply dropping the pet off at an already overcrowded shelter).

  74. Kristi says:

    People shouldn’t get pets without being able to take care of the pet for its entire life. It’s a long-term commitment in most cases, and that anyone would give up their pet due to some financial struggle just shows their immaturity in getting the pet in the first place. If you’re not willing to make sacrifices for your pet, you shouldn’t have one. If it means sacrificing a latte or a new outfit each month, then just DO IT.

    I seriously can’t trust people who have such small regard for animals. I won’t do business with them, I won’t befriend them – they’re usually shady people.

  75. Denise says:

    I casually ask people in job interviews about their pets to find out more about their personality. I have found that animal lovers have almost 100% of the time been my best employees. Why? They tend to be loyal and almost always tend to have stronger integrity than non-animal lovers.

    If during the interview process, I find that someone moved to the city and left their dog behind because their new apartment wouldn’t allow pets, I smile and say, “Nice to meet you. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” Then as they walk out, I think to myself, “Find an apartment that will allow pets you insensitive jerk.” The so-called “small talk” during interviews is not just small talk. What the interviewer is actually doing is finding out more about you in a less formal sort of way. Almost all of my colleagues nationwide ask about pets in interviews. The person’s response to the pet question is a huge indicator of their personality.

    If I found out someone gave up a pet for finances, I wouldn’t hire them. That’s telling me they’re more loyal to their wallet than anything else including moral responsibility and I don’t want those types of employees working for me. I simply find it absurd.

    When you get to the level of work that I hire people for, integrity is the most important thing I look for. Giving up your pet for your wallet is the opposite of integrity. So Trent, giving up your pet just may be the most expensive thing someone could do, because they’re not gonna get a job at my firm if they take your advice.

  76. vh says:

    Check out the 40 tips for saving money Trent has posted. I do every single one of those. I haven’t bought new clothes in almost a year, and the last time I did buy clothing was when it was marked down 50%. I do not drink coffee, and so I do not diddle away money at Starbucks. I do not drink alcohol. I never go out to eat. Every light in the house is a CFC and in 114-degree heat my air conditioning is turned up to 82 degrees. I am frugal, Kristi, to extremes. When I got these dogs 12 years ago, there was no clue they would cost several thousand dollars a year to maintain; had I known that would be the case, I would not have gotten them. That’s my point: we should all know that, in the Brave New Pet World, huge expenses are very likely to be the case!

    Unless you earn a LOT of money–I would estimate a household income of $80,000 to $120,000–you should not take on a pet. If you are single and a teacher or a state employee with no source of income but your job, you cannot afford a pet.

    And no, I would not farm my pals out to someone else, even if someone out there would take on two 12-year-old dogs, one of them going blind and lame and the other plagued with allergies that can cause him to emit so much methane I cannot have my friends over to my home, and both of which have to live INSIDE and not be turned out into the yard. Would you like to take in such an animal? Can you afford it?

  77. jon says:

    forget pets!!! another thing that has not been considered here is just how expensive children are! my wife and i had 2 kids. every month we sat down and took a look at our finances we saw that we were doing EVERYTHING we could to save money, be fiscally responsible. every month we came back to the same issue that was draining our savings and expendable cash…the children. therefore, we sat down and discussed an exit strategy…from parenthood. there was a wonderful agency operating in the midwest that placed our children with a loving family. we even pressed our luck and asked if those families were willing to “kick down” $15-20,000 for each kid. to our astonishment, we earned $32,000 for both kids. we were able to pay down loans and other extraneous debts, go on a wonderful vacation, and have some left over for weekend “flex cash” for dinners, get-aways, etc. we are currently looking at ways to capture and sell other “financial drains” in our extended families. (if you didnt laugh, you are too uptight) have great day.

  78. sandy says:

    Hi,

    Honestly even if i was undergoing financial difficulties it would be very hard to get rid of my pets. I have a cat and a dog…Both of which it would break my heart to lose. They are my companions friends and very much a part of my family. Of course my dog is a very small dog (the cat out weighs her by a good 10 pounds) and doesnt cost as much per month in food as say a german shepard would.

    I would make an effort to find ways to make keeping them less expensive…such as…finding somewhere to get sand in place of litter, purchasing a set of clippers instead of taking the dog to a groomer, getting coupons for canned or dry food. Purchasing toys for them from say a dollar store or making toys from old materials at home, when you travel take the pet to a friend or family member to care for rather than a kennel. take your pet to a vet in a rural area rather than the city. Our vet makes house calls for the cattle and horses and if the family pets need to be seen while hes there he sees them as well and makes it all one bill…he also shares out the mileage between farms by seeing 3 or 4 farms on a trip out.

    Theres all sorts of ways to lessen the cost of a pet without causing them serious stress by uprooting them from a home and family they trust know and feel safe with. Moving to a new home with the same family is stressful enough for a pet.

  79. Candy says:

    I don’t agree with vh, I own 2 standard poodles and 3 cats. Our household income is no where near the 80k mark. And my animals live healthy and full lives. I have a place in our budget for pet care. And I am constantly looking for ways to save money on their care without sacrificing their well being.
    I think the strongest points have been made. Know what you are getting yourself into first and then do whatever is necessary to keep your pets. I would go so far as to trim other areas of the budget and/or get a 2nd job for my animals.

  80. Michelle says:

    I’m coming in late, I know.
    I just want to comment on the statement made several times that these animals look to us for care. Isn’t that just because we have domesticated them? Not all dogs are cut out for this civilized world, but mine could definitely feed himself and is constantly trying, chasing squirrels and bunnies with complete abandon (at the end of a leash). Cars might prove to be too much for him, that’s true, but other than that he’d survive. He is comfortable here but he would be out of here if it were up to him. He likes my companionship because I have created a situation where I am his most constant companion, but I don’t know that I think he would choose me over other dogs and running wild, given the choice. He’s not looking to me for care. He is in a human home by human choice and is actually held captive by me, like a prisoner with a very cushy cell. Don’t feel like you are doing what the animal wants by caring for it. It just cannot reason that way. The animal does what feels good, and it learns that getting out of your house is difficult, but there’s food and warmth and companionship here, so why not stay.
    I’m not discounting the love WE have for the dog. I almost had to have exploratory surgery on my dog this week because he just wouldn’t eat (it was bacterial and antibiotics worked). I was willing to pay, but I knew that the money spent would be for MY benefit to save the dog’s life, not because there is some higher directive to save a dog no matter what. There would be no question about killing a sick chicken rather than doing $1000 of surgery to save them. Dogs are no different, except for our capacity to love them. I do think God gave us dogs for companionship, but also to learn lessons about the difference between humans and animals, and to teach you about yourself. Spend all you want to keep your pet with you, but don’t fool yourself that there is anything other than your own feelings involved. The pet simply does not have the mental capacity of a human.

  81. Maureen says:

    My mom adopted a small dog that the owners no longer had money or time for. Its sad he was in this situation, but now….he’s not. He has a loving home and they adore each other. It was a good option for all involved and most especially for little Bo. He went from being a burden to one family to being the light of someone elses, and whats wrong with that?

  82. Dina says:

    I do feel that people need to be much more careful when they adopt pets, thinking it through fo rthe long term.

    We have been trying to cut down the budget, and I know that A) the dog’s unexpected vet bills are one of the 5-6 things that sent us over our monthly budget over the past 2 years. (list also includes “cheap” 3-day vacations, car repairs, birthday parties/christmas.)
    B) If we were in really dire straights, finding him a new home would have to be something to consider, but definitely one of the last things on the list to consider.

    I think people are feeling insulted thinking that pet expenses rank with cable and new clothes. I do think that when you adopt an animal, you do it for life, and you make caring for them a priority in your budget. I also don’t buy that you have toprovide a stress-free enironment- I think an animal is better off staying with one owner as long as basic food, sanitary and health needs are met.

    In short- it should be a top priority, but it is something to consider if you’re really sinking finacially.

  83. Lori says:

    Hi, Trent,

    Boy, you opened a can of worms with this one! You sure are brave to keep the topic posted. I agree that one should carefully consider whether to initially take on a pet as there are many costs involved and ideally one should take responsibility for that pet for a lifetime.

    I think where I and other readers disagree with you is in giving up an already beloved pet to save a few bucks. I think most of us would rather work an extra job or give up something else before we removed a member of our families in this way.

    I realize not everyone thinks of their pets as family, but we do and I just can’t imagine this. I’d rather be broke than give up my precious babies.

    Lori

  84. Sara Bee says:

    I just can’t keep my thoughts to myself even though the last comment was almost two years ago.

    As others have said, getting a pet is a promise to care for it. Dumping it because the cost is more than you expected or planned for is cruel and inhumane.

    There are other options for cutting costs as mentioned by others, but you MUST keep up with shots, and; especially in the south; with parasite prevention.

    Should your own situation really makes it impossible to keep your pet, finding it a good home is an absolute must, No Excuses!

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