Updated on 06.02.10

How to Handle Pets When You Can’t Afford Them Any More

Trent Hamm

Hey, look, today I’m going to wade into something that’s bound to get hundreds of angry comments!

Yesterday, I read an article over at Get Rich Slowly where J.D. wrote the following (with my own emphasis added):

“Thanks for finding that place,” Michael told me as he took a bite of mashed potatoes and gravy. “But we’ve decided to rent someplace else. We found a place in Rock Creek for $1300 a month.”

“Wow,” I said. “That seems like a lot.”

“Not really,” he said. “That’s pretty good for similar places in Portland. Plus, it gives us space for our two dogs.”

I sighed inside. Sure, that may be a good price compared to similar houses, but I know there are tons of places to live in Portland for less than $1300 a month — if Michael and his wife are willing to make some sacrifices. I wanted to pursue this line of questioning — What about getting rid of the dogs? Why not look at the $500/month place I found? — but I let it go. You can only argue with your friends so much, right? We moved on to other topics.

This is an issue that comes up over and over again whenever pets are mentioned in a personal finance context. What do you do with a pet when you’re in a financial or personal situation that makes caring for them incredibly difficult or impossible?

It’s not an easy thing to think about for many pet owners. My experience with pets in the past has been very, very bittersweet, so I think I’ll relate my own experience with pets so you’ll have some idea where I’m coming from.

I have had two dogs in my life that I dearly loved. When I was four years old, my parents got a Lhasa Apso / poodle mix as a puppy. I immediately fell in love and insisted that we name the dog “Lolly” (short for Lollipop). Over the years, Lolly was a constant family companion – and I think my dad loved that dog more than even I did. One of her favorite things to do was to walk along the side of the gravel road by our house, past three other houses, and visit my aunt and uncle’s house, and they would often feed her, too. One of our neighbors used to complain constantly about her presence, threatening us and the dog repeatedly. One day, he left a tray of antifreeze alongside the road by his house – and Lolly drank it. She came home with antifreeze still in the fur around her mouth, became very ill, and died two days later in a very miserable way.

To replace Lolly, when I was about fourteen, my parents bought a rat terrier that we named Patch. I was incredibly attached to Patch and I spent most of a summer bonding with him and training him to do various tricks. We would stand out in the yard and play fetch together for hours. He also loved to go to the river and run into the water chasing sticks, bringing them back for me to throw again. He slept on my bed most nights. One day, while I was gone, my older brother ran over Patch with his truck, and I never got to say goodbye to him – he was buried before I returned home.

I know the feeling of bonding with a pet. I know the strong desire to protect a pet. And I know the sense of loss that people can feel when they lose one. It hurts.

So, what does a pet owner do when they find that they’re not emotionally, physically, or financially capable of properly caring for a pet?

The first step that should be taken is to ask yourself whether or not there are changes you could make in your life to allow that pet-human bond to continue. If you can’t afford dog food but you can afford cable television and a cell phone, spend some serious time thinking about your priorities. I can’t answer the question of which is more important to you, but keep in mind that pet ownership is a responsibility in which you’ve agreed to care for a living, thinking being.

This is a very personal decision. Some people simply have difficulty emotionally bonding with a pet – and that situation is difficult for both pet and owner. Some people, after going through a personal crisis or other deep change, find that their new situation makes the pet-human relationship very difficult. A job loss. A disability. A death. A new household member with an allergy. These things happen and they damage the pet-human relationship.

An example: my father is incredibly allergic to cats. Because of this, it made it impossible for him to visit us for years when we had two cats, which caused some serious strain on our relationship (as you can imagine, he did want to visit his grandchildren). Eventually, after searching, we found great alternative homes for our two cats. Our cats have safe, secure places to live and my father can visit his son and his grandchildren – it’s a win for everyone.

If you can’t make available the financial and personal resources that a pet requires, you should actively seek an appropriate home for your pet. Start by asking around your own social network, and also ask at your vet’s office. If that doesn’t work, put a Craigslist posting up about your pet (with pictures), describing the pet in as much detail as you can. Specify who you would like to own the pet. Would this be a good pet for a family? For an elderly person? For a cat lover? Explain that you really need to find a good home for this pet because of changing conditions in your life. You’ll be surprised how often this finds a good match – many potential pet owners just need the impetus of a good story in front of them to push them over the line to pet ownership. Deliver the pet yourself and make sure the home is a healthy one. Just look for obvious red flags like an abundance of caged pets (indicating the person may be a “buncher” who collects pets to sell). The Humane Society offers a great article on finding a new owner for your pet.

If this option fails, try PetFinder.com. You can list your pet there as a classified, which is perhaps the best place to start. If this doesn’t work, then you can also work with a listed animal shelter on PetFinder to help you find a good home for your pet. Try to stick with shelters that have good reviews on PetFinder – in other words, seek a very reputable shelter that takes an active role in finding good homes for their pets. Again, when you take your dog there, look for red flags. If it looks shady and smells awful, they’re probably not actively invested in finding homes for their pets.

Yes, this all takes a lot of time. But it does take a lot of time to find a good home for a pet. That’s why animal shelters often have pets for long periods of time – it’s not easy to find people that are capable of caring for a pet and want to have one, too.

If you own a pet, part of your responsibility is to make sure that the pet has a good home if you can no longer be the owner. That takes work and time, but it’s part of the responsiblity you take on when you acquire a pet. It’s not expensive, it just needs effort and patience.

As for me, I’m not emotionally ready quite yet to have a dog because of those past experiences (and cats are impossible due to allergies, as mentioned above). In the future, I’m not opposed to having one, particularly when we live in the country and the pet has a lot of outdoor freedom. When we do make that choice, we’ll be using Craigslist and PetFinder and other such resources – we won’t be involved in bringing a new pet into the world when there are so many great ones already out there who need a home.

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  1. mare says:

    The title of this may be the most offensive thing I’ve read in years, barring How to Handle Kids When You Can’t Afford Them Anymore.

  2. Josh says:

    Wow your neighbor is lucky he did not grow up next to me. I probably would have fed him antifreeze.

  3. Jason says:

    Nice way to steal JD’s thunder when he clearly said he would tackle this very issue tomorrow.

  4. Jonathan says:

    “So, what does a pet owner do when they find that they’re not emotionally, physically, or financially capable of properly caring for a pet?”

    I think you mean incapable. But that’s only a small thing like changing the entire meaning of the sentence. Proofread.

  5. Johanna says:

    Well, I’d better get my angry comment in quick, then. :)

    To all the people who think it’s unconscionable to leave dogs and cats at a shelter where they’ll be kept in cages, treated horribly, and (probably) eventually killed, consider making the choice not to support the industries that treat cows, pigs, and chickens the same way. If, that is, you haven’t done so already.

  6. J.D. Roth says:

    @Jason (#3)
    I don’t mind. My article’s already written, but it’s really just a “here are my thoughts, what are your thoughts?” piece. It’s an “Ask the Readers”. Trent did some legwork, so I’ll append my bit to include a link back here, as well as links to the sites he mentions. :)

  7. Miss B says:

    I totally get where you are coming from.

    Recently, I had to sit down with my money and do the “what do I truly value” assessment you talk about. My pets are one of the things I do truly value and so I have made adjustments in my money to be able to be the best “kitty mommy” I could be.

    I went over the cell phone bill with a fine tooth comb and got rid of services I didn’t need. (Can’t get rid of the cell entirely for myriad of reasons). I cut my cable back to just basic. I sold game consoles I wasn’t using. I readjusted my food budget so I was eating in for lunches and not getting take out every day.

    It was hard! But to me worth it to keep the kitties.

    Other friends have had to give up pets due to money constraints or allergies or needing to move to a different non-animal friendly place. It was VERY hard, lots of tears. These are not heartless people, but they had to do what they had to do – life is filled with difficult choices. Until you are in that situation, you can’t know what your decision will be. Not really.

  8. J.D. Roth says:

    @Jason (#4)
    When my wife read the post and reactions yesterday, she said, “I sure hope these people who got cranky at you are all vegetarians.”

  9. Jonathan says:

    My bad, you can delete/reject my comment.

  10. Laura in Seattle says:

    The first line of this piece made me crack up. :-)

    That being said, I do think this is a timely, if potentially tempestuous, topic. My bf and I were just discussing this over the weekend. Walking through downtown Seattle, you see a fair number of homeless people panhandling. I have noticed before that some of them have dogs. This concerns me. If the choice is food for you or food for your pet, which are you most likely to pick? I worry that those animals aren’t being cared for or fed properly.

    My bf decided to play Devil’s Advocate and pointed out that maybe the companionship was of such value to them that they didn’t want to give the pet to someone who could care for it better. I certainly can’t say whether starving with someone you love is a better choice than getting properly fed by someone you don’t care for as much, but it seems to me that a person in that situation should at least consider giving up their pet to a shelter. (preferably a no-kill)

    For the inevitable commenter who will say their pets are their children and they could never do that and how heartless am I, etc: If I had children and was unemployed or homeless, and could not take care of them, I would absolutely look for a friend or relative to care for them, or failing that, give them into the care of the state to provide what I couldn’t. And I think the least I could do is to do the same for a pet.

    Also, Trent, if your neighbor put out the antifreeze on purpose, there’s a special place in hell for him.

  11. J.D. Roth says:

    (Oops. Sorry. I knew that was you at #4, Johanna. Not sure why I typed Jason again.)

  12. Miss B says:


    Good point! VERY good point!

    And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

  13. Kris says:

    Sorry to hear about your dogs. :(

    I am one of those pet owners who made a conscious decision to take care of my cats (who have proven to be more trouble than I was expecting) when I adopted them from a shelter. There are however, many, MANY people who get pets and who do not take on that responsibility with the same degree of commitment that I have. This article provides them with options on what to do when they decide they would rather have cable TV and a cell phone. I would like to thank you for explaining to people who have decided to give up their pets how to best go about finding new homes. I would much rather have people find appropriate shelters or new owners instead of just abandoning their pets, assuming that the cat or dog will be able to “fend for itself”.

  14. Genevieve says:

    Ha J.D.! I thought the same thing as your wife when I read the comments on your post. You sure have a lot of vegetarian readers;-)

  15. Eric says:

    Good article. I think giving up a pet should be an absolute last resort, along the same lines of having your kid live with relatives if you cannot care for them, which happens sometimes. I think JD caught alot of flack because that was pretty much the first suggestion he brought up. It was like he was saying get rid of the dog in the same manner as get rid of your cell phone. Like the dog was a piece of property as opposed to a living being. Maybe he didn’t mean it like that, but it came off that way.

    Really, people need to research before they go off and get a pet in the first place.

  16. jesse.anne.o says:

    @J.D. & Johanna – I replied to your thread and I’m vegan, just FYI but somehow I doubt everyone who replied is vegetarian. People are very weird about which animals they’ll value humane treatment for, from my perspective.

  17. Shaun says:

    I wish people would stop putting pets on the same level as children. They are not the same. Pets will require assistance from you their whole life, they are dependent on you. They are a luxury. Children, on the other hand, will eventually grow to contribute to society and be able to support themselves.

  18. Laurel says:

    “In the future, I’m not opposed to having one, particularly when we live in the country and the pet has a lot of outdoor freedom.”

    Not personal finance related, but I hope outdoor freedom involves containing the dog in some manner. As the tragic deaths of your childhood pets illustrate, it is not safe or responsible (for the dog, other animals, or people) to let a dog roam free.

  19. Of course you should try your best to keep your pets, but if your finances get bad enough, then you should give away before they get taken away. Or they eat you because you can’t afford food for them.

  20. Johanna says:

    @Shaun: What about children with disabilities that will prevent them from ever living independent lives? Are pets on the same level as they are?

  21. Laura in Atlanta says:

    I would have to be REALLY hurting financially before I got rid of my cats.

    I would give up not only cable, but basic cable and I would sell my high def TV before giving up my pets.

    I would give up my cell phone plan, sell my phone and go with a prepaid cell phone before giving up my pets.

    I would stop eating out completely before giving up my pets.

    I value my 2 cats and their health over many, many, many objects I have in my house. I would sell most items I own before getting rid of my cats. And if I did have to get rid of the cats, I would place them with someone I know until I got back on feet and could reclaim them.

    I owe that to them. I made the commitment to be a good owner when I adopted them.

    But yes . . . its about placing value on things and everyone has a different value set when it comes to pets. Some people DO value their High Def TV and cell phone plans over their pets . . . and I think they suck. ;-)

    Good topic, Trent. (though yes, I think JD had ‘dibs’ on it for this week ;-) Nice to see ya grapple a topic that you know is gonna get people riled up!

    ~who agrees with the poster who wanted to feed antifreeze to your cowardly neighbor

  22. Jason says:

    Johanna – pets are NEVER on the level of children period. And it doesn’t matter whether children are special-needs or whatever else. Children are people and pets are not. Frankly that’s where it ends for me.

  23. matt says:

    Pets are still not children Johanna, nice straw man you threw up there. I understand how attached people get to pets, been there done that, but the value of a human being, even a complete stranger, is above that of your pet. People that disagree with that need help.

  24. Chris Raybourn says:

    My husband and I decided to get a Senegal parrot (lots of research for best cages, breeders, food, bird specific vets, etc.) and we were very happy together…. until our first child was born. Our Senegal HATED the baby. We did our best to keep them separated, but when our daughter was leaning to walk and grabbed the cage to keep her balance, Mango was waiting for her. Anyone who knows anything about parrots knows how hard they can bite. My daughter was lucky she didn’t lose part of her finger. We started looking for a new home for Mango that day. Due to our prior research and contacts, we had no problem finding a knowledgeable, experienced parrot lover willing to give him a good home.
    I think one of the main problems people have with finding new homes for their pets is one they create themselves: they want money.They want resale value. I’ve been considering finding a shelter dog for my kids, but most shelters want hundreds for dogs with unproven or even poor health. A well behaved, healthy dog will find a good home pretty quickly with little to no fees involved.
    The people who say pets have the same standing as children in a family have strange priorities. Loving the family pet just as much or more than you love your kids probably means you shouldn’t be a parent.

  25. Johanna says:

    @Jason, matt: It was Shaun’s straw man, not mine. I’m not looking for a fight here – I’m not a big fan of the whole “above/below/on the same level” thinking to begin with. I just thought Shaun had come up with a particularly contrived reason why it should be OK to disregard the pain and suffering of some sentient beings but not of others.

  26. con says:

    #13 Shaun: And animals have never contributed to society? Gee, what about service dogs for the blind and disabled and police dogs, to name a few? And, unfortunately, the animals that are used in labs for research? No, no contribution there. And they do it for no “monetary” value.

  27. Heidi says:

    Hey, look, an angry commenter! I’m going to try to be as diplomatic about this as I can…

    1. I’m sincerely sorry for your past pet losses. I haven’t been through it myself as of yet, but I dread the day. You don’t mention the circumstances under which either Lolly or Patch were outside, and I don’t mean to place blame on anyone but that despicable neighbor, but I think they serve as useful examples of the terrible things that can happen to pets left outside unsupervised. Both cats and dogs are happiest and healthiest inside.

    2. My dogs are members of my family, and I made a commitment to each of them to care for them for the rest of their lives. Period. I do not recommend entering into pet ownership if you do not feel you can meet this commitment 100%. Being prepared is how you prevent coming to this decision to begin with.

    3. The rescues I adopted my dogs from both have clauses in our contract that require the dog be returned to their care if for some reason we can no longer care for them. I would urge anyone considering “rehoming” to consult any contract they signed.

    4. I don’t know the whole circumstances of the situation with your cats, but I’ve known a lot of people with allergies who have coexisted peacefully with pets using various management methods. One of my dogs happens to have fear reactivity towards people, in particular my mom. He’s not her favorite creature on earth, but she understands I would never further cause him psychological damage by rehoming, nor sentence him to death for her comfort. We manage.

    5. In all honesty, your puppies and rainbows suggestions about finding a new home for a pet are PURE BS. According to the Humane Society of the US 6-8 million dogs and cats are cared for in the shelter system each year, and of those 50% are euthanized. IF you are able to find the kind of good home you describe (and that’s a very large IF), there is no guarantee that person will not turn around and dump the pet once again when things get rough. At the very best, you are taking a potential home away from one of the 6-8 million dogs and cats in the shelter system, especially if you list through Petfinder or use a rescue group found there.

    Your comments make it quite clear you have no concept of the pet overpopulation crisis in this country, nor the serious responsibility of pet ownership. I sincerely hope one day you’re able to work past your losses and open your heart up to a new pet, because there’s nothing like it. But I hope you do your research first, as diligently as you do other topics.

    I’ve been a subscriber for probably 2 years, and this is the first time I’ve reconsidered.

  28. Artemisia says:

    Oh, Trent! I am so sorry about Lolly! I can’t believe that neighbor. How horrible.

  29. jesse.anne.o says:

    I don’t think kids and pets are on the same level as they are entirely apples to oranges with care/expectations (p.s. my 55 year old uncle still lives with my grandparents and never moved out and he’s physically and mentally fine) — but I consciously chose to have one and consciously chose not to have the other, although I love my friends’ kids. However, I *definitely* take offense to people suggesting they are easy to give up (unrelated to JD’s post – but a common sentiment often coming from non-pet owners) or not as important. There are huge areas of study over animal/human bonding and I think it’s disappointing for those who don’t experience it to dismiss it.

    I have to admit that pets were a huge driving factor in wanting to do well financially – if I had dependents I love, I want to be able to take care of them. If I didn’t have them, and the guilt of not having savings or credit to cover their vet care in case of emergency, I don’t know how motivated I would have been to pull myself out of debt. (Once out of debt I started a savings account for their future vetting, in addition to budgeting not only for their supplies monthly, but feral cat colony food monthly AND a non-profit donation savings account, with heavy animal welfare representation – for full disclosure I also work in animal welfare as my money-job.)

    Yes, some people need to give up their pets sometimes, and some have an easier time of it than others. Hopefully everyone who *cares* will do something to make that a better situation for the pets and people involved.

  30. Shaun says:


    No, pets are not on the same level as children with disabilities. When you get a pet, you are getting something that you know will need your support for its life. When you have a child, you are willingly taking a risk that it’ll be self-sufficient at some point down the road. Taking care of that child for their entire life is the downside of that risk.

  31. Cami says:

    @Jason @matt
    Funny that you all attack Johanna for simply stating a contradiction in Shaun’s post. Last I checked, none of you two were Shaun. Stop acting as if she actually said “children = pets”, and acknowledge that she just questions the specific “children > pets because children will be productive members of society” reasoning. If anything, it came off that she finds Shaun’s reasoning failing EXACTLY BECAUSE children with disabilities ARE above pets.

  32. dagny says:

    The “get rid of” is an emotionally charged phrase to animal folks. “rehome” is much more constructive.

    Many local animal welfare groups have pet food banks for folks in need. One in my area accepts food and money specifically for this. http://www.dogcatadoption.com/pet_food_bank.html

  33. Money Smarts says:

    I think we need to put proper perspective on this piece, and the idea of giving up pets if you’re not able to care for them. It isn’t an awful thing to do – it’s a caring thing to do to give up a pet to someone better able to care for it. If you’re no longer able to care for the animal, then placing it in a good home is the responsible thing to do.

    And I agree with the above commenters pointing out that pets are animals, and not on the same level as humans/children. Do we love our pets and do our best to give them a good life? Sure. Would I do the same for my pets as I would my child? No.

  34. Mel says:

    Pets are not children. Pets are also not cell phone plans or cable or game consoles or other inanimate objects.

    Do I think giving pets to someone else or even putting them down (something which for me is a last last last resort for pets who are terminally ill and in pain) is like giving your children into state care? No. (And state care is…not really a positive thing. Probably better for kids than being homeless, but likely not better for kids than scraping by on food stamps with their parent(s) or temporarily living with relatives, in most cases.)


    That does not mean that giving up one’s pets is a relatively minor decision on par with giving up inanimate objects. THAT’S what gets most pet people, not the suggestion that pets are not like children (although I do not have and never want to have kids, and am extremely emotionally attached to my cats).

    Pets are not children. But they’re not things, either.

    There is a very, very long list of things–actual things–that I would give up before my cats. I would not seriously date someone who is unable to live with cats, unless my cats died and I were sure I was willing to never have cats again. That is how important having pets is to me. I view pets as a commitment; it’s one of the reasons I don’t have any snakes or lizards, as they are very long-lived animals that create more restrictions on potential rental housing than cats or even dogs. I know what the kill rates are like for shelters, and I know that if my former pet was one of the lucky ones, that would mean another dog or cat or reptile that wasn’t.

    If I had children and they were allergic to animals and there was no way to manage it so the kids would be comfortable and happy (and for some people, especially people who are anaphylaxis-allergic, there IS no way to manage allergies), yes, I’d look for new homes for my pets.

    But there are no things I would place before my pets. And frankly, I think people who consider pets to be just live TV sets probably shouldn’t have them.

    Here’s the hierarchy for most people (although I am personally inclined to agree with Johanna that when it comes to living creatures, above/below is problematic): humans > animals > inanimate objects. Some people get angry about humans = animals. Some people get angry about animals = inanimate objects.

    Can we at least all agree that living creatures are more important than things?

  35. Shaun says:

    Also, to those out there that clearly cannot use it correctly, neither of us created a straw man.

    “A straw man argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position.”

    My position was that you should not treat pets like children since they will never grow to be self sufficient (like children mostly do). Johanna’s position (along with many other people) seems to be that regardless of if they will be self sufficient, both pets and people deserve the same respect and decency.

    Both positions are valid and neither is the “correct” one, but neither I nor Johanna have misrepresented the other person’s.

  36. Sheila says:

    When I look at the information on pets that are brought into the shelter where I volunteer, I often see that the owner has gotten the pet from Craigslist. While I think rehoming a pet from Craiglist may be a good option, you must be as diligent as a rescue group usually is, which means having the person fill out an application and doing a home visit. It’s sad when I see Craigslist posts from former owners asking if the new owners will call to say that pets are all right. Why don’t those former owners have an address and phone number so they can call the new owners? Since our local shelter has a great adoption rate for dogs, I actually wish that people would just take their dogs to the shelter, especially if those dogs are not spayed/neutered. Pets are a commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Pet expenses should be part of the equation when you plan how much you need in an emergency fund. And always, always get your pet spayed/neutered.

  37. Honey says:

    When I had to decide to put my cat down 1.5 years ago, it was very hard. My boyfriend stated outright that if there had been any hope of saving her, that I should give her to him and he would pay any price, drive her between the regular vet and the emergency vet every day. Anything. But she was in a diabetic coma and there was absolutely no indication that heroic measures would have done anything except prolong her pain. We spent probably $10K over the course of the four years that she had diabetes, though, and don’t regret a penny.

    I not only value my pets above every stranger on earth, I value them above most of the people I actually know. I’m not having children because I don’t think there’s any way to guarantee I would feel that way about them, and I think it would be selfish of me to have children knowing that. Plus everything about having children sounds awful :-)

    And yes, I’m vegetarian on the path towards vegan.

  38. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    I didn’t intend to steal J.D.’s “thunder.” I read his article in Google Reader and there was no mention of a follow-up. I see now that such mention has been added as a second footnote at the bottom, but there was no such footnote there when I read the article and the first batch of negative comments attached to it.

  39. Doug Warshauer says:

    I think Laura (#15) got it right. You have to make choices. The key point here is that you can’t separate thinking about your personal finances from thinking about your personal priorities. The people who do a really good job managing their personal finances are the ones who recognize what they must sacrifice so that they can afford the things that really matter to them.

  40. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Heidi wrote: “My dogs are members of my family, and I made a commitment to each of them to care for them for the rest of their lives. Period. I do not recommend entering into pet ownership if you do not feel you can meet this commitment 100%. Being prepared is how you prevent coming to this decision to begin with.”

    I strongly, strongly disagree with this.

    What if you develop an allergy that makes it impossible for you to breathe in the presence of your pet?

    What if you lose your job and lose your home, rendering you unable to provide even basic shelter for your pet?

    What if you are in an automobile accident, leaving you immobile and incapable of pet care?

    What if you develop a bipolar disorder, meaning that when you’re in a down mood, you become an active danger to your pet?

    This is what the article is about, and I spend an entire paragraph spelling that out in detail. People face real situations like this all the time. Their mental and physical and financial health no longer AFFORDS a pet that they previously could care for and still deeply love. What do they do then?

    Your blunt statement is predicated on a wonderful roses-and-butterflies future where nothing bad happens to you. That’s not reality. Reality involves situations where people who love pets very, very much can no longer care for them.

    Heidi, under your own standards, you should not own a pet because you cannot 100% guarantee that you will be able to care for that pet for the rest of its life. If you disagree, you should be strongly IN FAVOR of this article. If you follow the links, you’ll see that I actually went to the Humane Society to see what they suggested for such situations and I follow them pretty closely (updating them a bit because their standards still talk about paper classifieds which are barely effective in this day and age, etc.). EVERY pet owner takes this risk.

    If you have better ideas for what to do with a pet in that situation than I do, please share them.

  41. Mz Ruby says:

    Wow, I can certainly relate to this topic, having just spent $3000 on an emergency hospitalization for our beloved Scottie, who just turned 11 (it gets better – we have a 17 year old cat who has NEVER had a thing go wrong with her health!) My husband and I are celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary and had planned and already paid for a trip to England to visit one daughter (other daughter accompanied us) and a return cruise on the Queen Mary2. One week before departure, our little Scottie suddenly went into acute kidney failure – a urinary tract infection gone wrong. We had to decide whether to treat her or have her put down for a potentially reversible problem. We chose to treat her, but the decision was relatively easy because we have been living below our means for a number of years and the money was there. Our little elder pets stayed at home with our wonderful pet sitter visiting 3 times a day and everything went very well. In the past, when my husband was active duty military and we were living overweas, we had to make the decision to find a home for a dog who became very jealous when our twin daughters were born and he no longer had my full attention. He started acting out and I told my husband it was me or the dog! We found a young English man who wanted a dog of his own – they totally bonded and the young man took his “new” dog everywhere with him, including work and the pub! It made us feel so good to find the appropriate home for him.

  42. sm4k says:

    We recently made the decision to give up two guinea pigs, and while we didn’t make the decision based on their cost, (our son who pleaded for years to get them but does give them the attention they deserve) essentially the same root reason Trent speaks of: We’re not a good provider for them.

    We also have a cat, and that cat isn’t going anywhere because we take the time to make sure the cat is cared for, played with, kept healthy, etc. The pigs however, we’re constantly cleaning their cage late, refilling their food at the last possible second, and (rarely) we’ve even caught their water bottles completely empty. So, we made the realization that we’re not the right fit for them. The same would be true if you were struggling to keep your head above water financially, and your pet was eating up $200 a month in food, litter, and whatever else.

    It’s important that as the current caregiver for these animals that you spend the time to make sure they’re going to go somewhere that they will be properly cared for. It’s a tough decision and a tough process, but sometimes it’s for the best.

    The only thing I would add is that I would charge a very small fee from the buyer. Even $30 is enough to weed out people who really want a pet vs people who think they want a pet. You’re not trying to make money, you’re trying to ensure they go where they are really wanted.

  43. jesinalbuquerque says:

    There are many issues surrounding the proliferation of pets. (1) a glut of domestic animals, brought on by the $%*&$ s who let their animals reproduce indiscriminately; (2) a twisted sense of values that lets people mistreat or neglect a living, sentient being; (3) a human-centric view of the world that says people are more important than animals. They’re not. They are as important, but not more so. Animals are not put here for our disposal; we are put here to demonstate that we are human enough to care for the helpless.

  44. Rebecca says:

    We have been actively trying to find a way to get a dog for the past year, but the cost is prohibitive. We have started going to the Humane Society to socialize our kids with the animals there. They have a special program for kids to come and interact with animals of all kinds, even if we are not actively seeking an adoption. It also benefits the animals who need socialization with kids, esp kids with special needs, like mine.

    And for the record, I don’t see any downside to having special needs kids. I have 2. And most parents DO support their children (though not always financially) for their (the parents) entire lives. Its called unconditional love.

  45. MJ says:


    I think that the whole “all people (including strangers > pets)” argument is too sweeping. People choose to make certain commitments, there being a finite amount energy one can dedicate to an even ‘finiter’ number of commitments. As mentioned by people above, a pet IS one such commitment.

    To put it to extremes (if only to illustrate a point), I will choose my pet over other people whom I have a have made no such commitment or a lesser commitment to i.e. if I had one dollar and I had to choose spending it for my pet or giving it to the neighborhood bum/crack addict, I will always choose to spend it to for my pet.

    Besides, my pet, unless I am able to prepare for the path JD has discussed, generally only has me to rely on. Whereas other people to whom I have no commitment to, even the bum, have other people who have made commitments for their care, e.g. govt, their own families, who should be the one to take responsibility.

    The above may sound harsh, but, unless you are mother teresa, you cannot care for everything and everyone. You choose who you care for because you are you. If one acts contrary to the choices you make just because of an general notion that “all people > pets” then that person is the one who needs help.

  46. Des says:

    Shaun said: “No, pets are not on the same level as children with disabilities. When you get a pet, you are getting something that you know will need your support for its life. When you have a child, you are willingly taking a risk that it’ll be self-sufficient at some point down the road. Taking care of that child for their entire life is the downside of that risk.”

    What if you adopted the child with disabilities? By your logic they, too, would be a “luxury” that could be disposed of at will.

    @sm4k – Being responsible is a choice, not an unchangeable personality trait. You didn’t “realize” you were a bad fit, you chose to act irresponsibly. Yes, giving pets away is better than starving them to death, but why not just feed them regularly?

  47. momof4 says:

    I think your title and this piece were both right on target. We had a renter once who had to get rid of her cats because she couldn’t afford them any more, no other reason. She cut out all of the other expenses in her life that were optional and when push came to shove financially, the cats had to go. We helped her find a loving home and later she ended up joining the military as an officer. That was the only viable option for her to gain significant employment in her field and dig herself out of a monster hole of debt. Btw have you ever done a piece on joining the military as a way to gain job skills, degree, employment? Another controversial topic for you.

  48. Lauren says:

    I just can’t get over how awful your neighbor was. I’m still too angry about it to say anything constructive about the rest of the piece :(

  49. chacha1 says:

    Ah, country livin,’ where the animals roam free. I grew up in South Georgia and we had one cat run over (intentionally – we could see the swerve marks on the dirt road right before her poor little body), one cat kicked to death (massive internal injuries, this was the vet’s judgement), one dog accidentally run over by a workman (who was horrified and grief-stricken), and one dog intentionally shot by a “neighbor.” Oh yes, and one cat fatally injured by a hawk. As a child I had exactly one pet die of natural causes. And please note I was a child and did not get to make the decision as to whether the pets stayed indoors.

    As an adult I’ve had to euthanize one cat with cancer. I currently have two cats and their well-being is definitely a priority, but there are limits. I do NOT believe in heroic measures. Not for myself, either. I do not believe animals fear death – I doubt they’ve any concept of it. They do fear pain, though, and deserve to not be made to suffer just because we are attached to them.

    The best things a pet lover can do are 1) keep pets indoors or on leash or safely fenced; 2) spay/neuter; 3) make regular vet appointments. The next-best thing a pet lover can do is not get a pet if they can’t afford to do all of the above.

  50. Stephanie says:

    I love my cat dearly but if my children developed an allergy or we could no longer afford to feed her or give proper vet care then the kindest thing to do would be for me to find our beloved pet a new loving home.

  51. Michelle says:

    @ #19 Heidi – I am unable to visit my in-laws frequently without significant medication because my allergies are so bad (think 12 24hr Clartin in a day). If I don’t take that many, I have asthma attacks that send me to the hospital. I can’t stay on that much medication for more than a few days at a time. The only way to “manage” my allergies, is to stay away. And this is a negative impact on my relationship with my in-laws. I’m sure they would love to see their grandchildren more often, but we can’t visit. And I’m upset that they won’t give up the cats so we can visit more frequently. I just don’t see how pets are more important than family.

  52. Honey says:

    I would definitely find another home for my cats, though, if I couldn’t give them the quality of life to which I think they’re entitled. My two best friends and my dad all stand ready to take mine in if I ever couldn’t take care of them. I think 3 backup homes is plenty. But it would be a last, last resort. I’ve had my 12 year old kitty his whole life and my 13 year old kitty for six years – they have anxiety attacks if I go on vacation too long. If they had to be re-homed they would go to pieces.

  53. @#8 Laura in Seattle
    They have the dogs to protect them from the people who abuse, rob, and murder mentally ill and helpless folks.

    @ All the comments on disabled children: Very few severely disabled people will spend all their lives at home. (By “severely”, I mean the folks requiring round-the-clock care or supervision.) Only folks with a good deal of money can afford to hire trained home caregivers.

    And people will milder mental disabilities will, if they are fortunate, go to a supervised adult living situation, and experience some independence.

    So it is sophistic to argue that parents will always keep disabled children at home, and cruel to tell the parents that they have a moral obligation to always do so.

  54. patty says:

    Now that everyone has jumped up and down, mind you I understand it all….. so good news…..

    I adopted a rescue cat a 13 months ago. She is a tiger striped domestic short hair nine year old female. It’s been a long 13 months with her getting adjusted and learning to trust all over again. She was abandoned by a not-very-nice-or-considerate-individual. Let me say, KC, is a sweet cat, great companion. She now has a forever home – great for both of us.

    PS if you can’t take care of your pet, then bring it to a non-put-down shelter. You pet will eventually get placed with a deserving family in a great home.

  55. Heidi says:


    “What if you develop an allergy that makes it impossible for you to breathe in the presence of your pet?”

    I’ve done quite a bit of reading on this, as having a future child with allergies is a concern of mine. In my research, I’ve found a long list of management techniques which can mitigate issues and are under-suggested by many doctors (http://sites.google.com/site/petsboardfaqs/home/other-faqs/living-with-pet-allergies for examples).

    “What if you lose your job and lose your home, rendering you unable to provide even basic shelter for your pet?”

    To begin with, before we brought our pets home, we made sure our emergency fund included their expenses. If we were in a truly desperate situation, there are programs that offer help (http://www.carecredit.com/vetmed/, http://www.petsofthehomeless.org/). IMO, dogs don’t need much other than food, safety and most of all companionship. Provided he’s healthy, I don’t find a dog on the street with a homeless person to be all that sad.

    “What if you are in an automobile accident, leaving you immobile and incapable of pet care?”

    If my husband and I were incapacitated and/or died before our dogs, we have a trusted friend in place to take over care of our dogs (he has a key to our home expressly for this purpose), with the blessing of our rescue agencies.

    “What if you develop a bipolar disorder, meaning that when you’re in a down mood, you become an active danger to your pet?”

    I’d go to the doctor, or perhaps check myself into the hospital.

    I’ve tried to stay out of the pets vs. humans issue because I do truly believe they’re not the same, but honestly what would you do if you had an illness that caused you to hurt your kids, or your financial situation became so dire that you couldn’t care for them? If that sounds like a silly question, because you love them so much that you’ve put every conceivable precaution into place to protect them, well that’s what I’ve done for my pets, and that’s what I’d urge any prospective pet owner to do. No, I can’t protect them from a meteor falling out of the sky, but IMO I’ve covered them about as well as is practically possible.

    “This is what the article is about, and I spend an entire paragraph spelling that out in detail. People face real situations like this all the time. Their mental and physical and financial health no longer AFFORDS a pet that they previously could care for and still deeply love. What do they do then?”

    That’s not how I interpreted it, I’m sorry. Allergies of a non-immediate family member and job loss for which one may be covered under unemployment insurance and/or an emergency fund are not circumstances under which I consider rehoming a family member to which I made a lifelong commitment.

    “Your blunt statement is predicated on a wonderful roses-and-butterflies future where nothing bad happens to you. That’s not reality. Reality involves situations where people who love pets very, very much can no longer care for them.”

    Reality involves situations where people love all kinds of people and things very much and can no longer care for them, and yet there are few articles on the web about how to rehome your kid. Again, not to say that pets are on the same level as kids, but these same things can happen to parents, and yet, no one has these kinds of suggestions for them. That’s what troubles me. The idea that people need this advice encourages the feeling that *my* situation is desperate, and that rehoming is okay under any rough circumstance.

    The HSUS offers several solutions to common problems before suggesting rehoming as a last resort. I read your post as suggesting rehoming if your bond with your pet has suffered and it’s a drag on your spending values.

    I apologize if my comment struck a nerve; your post obviously did with me. I did read it in entirety, and I meant it when I said I tried to be diplomatic. I most certainly did not intend it to come of as hateful or caustic. I’m done; I wish the best for you and your family.

  56. Leslie says:

    I think that sometimes as pet owners, we have to make hard choices. I think the original intent of this post was to offer options when faced with truly difficult decisions regarding your pets. In the original thought, it seems to me that the difference in the housing options was $800/month in order for the friend to keep his pets. If the person was truly in economic dire straits, that could be a disaster and they could eventually end up homeless. I know that I could not afford $800 a month jusr to keep my pups, as much as I love them, as that would be 30% of my take home per month. And that’s in addition to the costs of food, shots, annual checkups, spay/neuter, flea/tic/heartworm prevention and routine illnesses or accidents that we deal with as responsible and loving pet owners. I know I would personally cut other areas down to the bone before I would give up my pups, but sometimes you have to make the hard choices. I think there are options if you find yourself in a position where you can no longer care for your pets and the original post provided some of those options, but they do take some thought and work. Let’s be honest, not everyone bonds with their pets in the same way, and some people should probably never be pet owners in the first place, but I think the article provides options that some might not have thought about. And in the end, for all those that are irate about the idea of someone giving up a pet, isn’t what we want what’s best for the animal over the course of his life? Many animals get tossed on the side of the road to fend for themselves when people enter dire financial straits, some forethought, and ideas like this article provides might give someone reading it other options if their situation is desperate. And that would be a blessing for those animals.

  57. Allie says:

    Pets are not children, but they come mighty close for some of us. And for others, they are kind of like animated furniture to be thrown on the curb for recycling.

    The kindest thing you can do with an unwanted animal -especially one that is unwanted because s/he has a behavioral or emotional problem – is to man up and have it put down by a vet. Do not turn your problem over to someone perhaps even less emotionally attached than you are.

    There are legitimate allergies to dogs and cats. However, it does seem that when Fluffy begins to miss the litterbox or Spot develops a pricey skin problem, these allergies become more pronounced among owners.

    I speak as a rescuer and owner. My dogs go with me when I go. I have it in my will. They have been with me all their lives, and to rehome them would be crueler than death. Cats can adjust a little better, but still, to rehome an elderly cat into a strange environment is not a kindness.

    To me, there’s no sin greater than cruelty and neglect of any sentient being. And Trent has bravely opened a door we just don’t like to see opened.

    I know that sometimes a pet must be given up. I know there are some fine, dedicated organizations and Trent’s given some good guidelines. Me, I have no patience with the No-Kill shelters; only a small percentage of their inmates find a forever home.

    We need to face the hard fact that life is not the great gift for animals we think it is. It is a good life that is the gift, however short. A good life for an animal is being loved and cared for. Mere existence in a concrete building is not a good life.

    I have taken in parrots that were “released back into the wild”, cats that “could fend for themselves” dogs that “would find a new home.” I have had grim experience with adopting these pets out. After much heartache and a long talk with my vet, if I cannot keep an animal myself, or place it with one of my trusted group of fellow rescuers, then I send it where it cannot be hurt, or cold, or hungry, or abused. And I take it to the vet and see that its last memory is being held close and spoken to kindly.

    Sometimes the hardest choice is also the most merciful.

  58. Barb says:

    I am a widow on a pension. my dogs are as much a member of my family as my children are, and they would be more upset than I would if something were to happen to them. While the humane society may in fact have guidelines on rehoming a pet, the truth of the matter is that huge numbers of animals are killed every year. I simply could not risk that. And in fact, after living as a family with us for fifteen years, I can only imagine the effect on an emotional level on my pups if they were abondoned, and the effect on my children about losing that connection.

  59. Michelle says:

    For those considering a pet but are unsure of their future circumstances (moving, financial, whatever) consider looking into foster programs. These programs allow you to help needy pets and form a bond, but allow the flexibility that some people need.

  60. Kara says:

    I 100% agree with Mel’s post:

    “Pets are not children. Pets are also not cell phone plans or cable or game consoles or other inanimate objects.”

    Right now I am dealing with treating my cat for a thyroid condition. At some point I’m going to have to make a decision as to whether to continue treating her (at a high cost) or talk about euthanasia. It is not a decision I take lightly.

    The discussion about pets vs. kids aside, I think that the crux here is that I have chosen to be responsible for another life. Is it a human life? It doesn’t matter. I accepted the responsibility of holding that life in my hands .. and ALL life is valuable. If I were truly in a position where I couldn’t afford to care for her, then it would be my responsibility to find someone who could and would.

    But when you accept the responsibility of holding a life in your hands, it should come before cell phones, cable, shoes, computers, etc. If you’re not willing to accept that, then don’t take the responsibility of a living creature into your hands.

  61. deb says:

    Allergies can develop at any time. In college I had several different roommates with different cats over several years, with no problems. Ten years later spending an hour in a house where even one cat lived gave me a reaction so bad my eyes would actually bleed. Now, I’m somewhere in between the two with asthma and hives as a reaction to them. You never know what’s going to happen in the future.

  62. Diane says:

    Not a comment, but a story. About 15 years ago we were friends with a couple who had two cats. This professional couple had everything: a nice house, two cars, a boat, a timeshare, a fur jacket for the wife, and five–FIVE!–sets of dinner china. One day they took their cats to the vet for vaccinations, and on seeing the amount of the vet bill the wife said, “Maybe we should put the cats to sleep.” True story, I swear.

  63. bob says:

    Good article Trent. Can’t believe some of the comments.

  64. Bill says:

    Pets are not as important as people. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding himself.

  65. Kathryn says:

    I’m sorry you feel you had so many negative responses Trent (per your comment @ FB). You are right that this is an issue with much emotion behind it.

    I, also, had 2 dogs run over when i was a child, & have not had a dog since. As i was a child, i didn’t realize how to better protect my dogs. If i had one as an adult, i would.

    For many years now i’ve always had 2 cats. No more, & usually no less. I went thru a period of time in my life where the question was “do i eat or do the cats?” The cats ate, of course. I’m not sure i gave them the best life, but i gave the best i could & they gave me a lot of pleasure. (Much as i love my cats, i’m not sure i’d say they “love” me. I do think they often enjoy my company.)

    That said, i did “rehome” one of my cats once. I found it very hard for i do believe that assuming the care of the pet means assuming it for the life of the pet. I recognize that things come up in life that create a problem with this, but over all, the pet is my responsibility. The new home actually is a much better “fit” for this cat. She is very happy there where as she was not with us. She is an only cat there & expects life to stay that way.

    For those with allergies, i strongly recommend trying out NAET. http://www.naet.com/subscribers/what.html There is no guarantee with this of course, but it is definitely worth it to check out.

  66. hishermoney says:

    Our two cats are our kids and we love them so much. They bring us so much joy. I work from home many days and I love having them snuggled up on my lap just purring away while I work.

    It is our job to provide for them and we fully understand this. They get treats, healthy food and all the pats they can endure. They are two complete lap kitties.

    I would give up cable and eating out if that’s what it came to in order to keep them. I have been lucky that they haven’t needed expensive medical care so far but they are now 14 years old and I’m sure the day will come when I’m faced with a large kitty medical bill. I’m sure I will pay whatever it costs as long as they are not in pain and can still live an enjoyable life themselves.

    Some day I know they will go to the big litter box in the sky and I will be absolutely heart broken, but until that day I will enjoy them for the cute little, purring hairballs they are.

    And yes, they are our kids by choice and for people who really can no longer provide an adequate quality of life for their pets, they should looks for a loving home to take them.

  67. Rhonda says:

    Personally, pets and children are a life long choice. Maybe someday I would not be able to take care of either, but it would be very drastic, and I would do EVERYTHING to support them before ever considering giving away for adoption.

    Pets are family. I have discussed with my children about the choice of a partner who has allergies/does not love pets. They will go into such a relationship knowing, and discussing the implications it will lead to. If it comes to that we will deal with it and make it the best we can. I can only hope that my children are able to find partners who love pets as much as we do, and who are not allergic.

    We also are very respectful of the food we eat, and what our pets eat. Yes, I agree, ignoring what industry does to animals is passing a blind eye.

    If it came to giving up a pet, I would be giving up my home/my food at the same time. To me, pets are as important as people. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding himself. Funny how that works hey!

  68. I am glad that I don’t own any pets so that I don’t have to deal with all of this

  69. S says:

    This is a fairly emotional article for me to read due to circumstances I had growing up as a child. We were a typical household with a few animals and then it all changed after a feral cat had kittens near our house. My mom tried taking care of them and before you know it, we had a full-blown indoor and outdoor cat colony (50+) at our house.

    I had asthma and allergies to the cats (who wouldn’t considering the amount of cats we had). Clearly my mother was not a well person for trying to care for all of them. My status as a child was quickly outranked by these “poor helpless and innocent” creatures.

    I spent countless nights unable to breath and ended up going to urgent care to get nebulizer treatments more times than I can remember. It was horrible.

    The financial costs were/are unreal. There were definitely things that I went without on because of the cost of vet bills, wet food, dry food, cat litter and medications. Surprisingly, no one ever called animal control on us although I wish someone had.

    This was child abuse that I experienced and it came from the type of mentality that you take care of your animal commitments “no matter what”. It is also truly absurd to think that one should find ways to “manage” the allergy issue. My mother thought I should be managing just fine with all my antihistamines, steroid and rescue inhalers. I moved out before graduating from high school and our relationship was never the same.

    With all that said, I did adopt a shelter dog many years ago. I love her very much and would go to great lengths to avoid having to give her up, but I would not run up credit cards or deplete my savings if she got seriously ill. She has had a much better life than most dogs, but pets shouldn’t become drains on finances, health and relationships. That is just my opinion though.

  70. Rhonda says:

    Heidi wrote: “My dogs are members of my family, and I made a commitment to each of them to care for them for the rest of their lives. Period. I do not recommend entering into pet ownership if you do not feel you can meet this commitment 100%. Being prepared is how you prevent coming to this decision to begin with.”

    I strongly, strongly disagree with this.

    What if you develop an allergy that makes it impossible for you to breathe in the presence of your pet?

    What if you lose your job and lose your home, rendering you unable to provide even basic shelter for your pet?

    What if you are in an automobile accident, leaving you immobile and incapable of pet care?

    What if you develop a bipolar disorder, meaning that when you’re in a down mood, you become an active danger to your pet?

    This is what the article is about, and I spend an entire paragraph spelling that out in detail. People face real situations like this all the time. Their mental and physical and financial health no longer AFFORDS a pet that they previously could care for and still deeply love. What do they do then?

    Your blunt statement is predicated on a wonderful roses-and-butterflies future where nothing bad happens to you. That’s not reality. Reality involves situations where people who love pets very, very much can no longer care for them.

    Heidi, under your own standards, you should not own a pet because you cannot 100% guarantee that you will be able to care for that pet for the rest of its life. If you disagree, you should be strongly IN FAVOR of this article. If you follow the links, you’ll see that I actually went to the Humane Society to see what they suggested for such situations and I follow them pretty closely (updating them a bit because their standards still talk about paper classifieds which are barely effective in this day and age, etc.). EVERY pet owner takes this risk.

    If you have better ideas for what to do with a pet in that situation than I do, please share them.


    I personally think it is your responsibility to attempt 100% coverage.

    Our children and our pets are written into our will.

    If we should become disabled we have a plan for our children and our pets. This includes appropriate financial assistance to those who have agreed to be godparents/caregivers. Care has been discussed, and is regularily reviewed and updated in a document.

    I did not have children or get pets until I was sure I was able to financially support, lost job or not, economy crash or not.

    Really – lost job, automobile accident, bipolar? These are real problems that occur. Do not plan a family without having a backup plan for these types of obstacles.

    Of course, there may be some catastrophic disaster, that I cannot protect myself or my family from, it maybe beyond my control, for the most part.

    Overall the better plan is to have a plan. To me that is the whole point of “do not enter into pet ownership if you cannot commit 100%”. Yes, there is the risk of the catastrophe. Outside of that, it is covered.

  71. hishermoney says:

    Pets are not for everyone – serious thought SHOULD go into the decision of whether or not to get a pet. Just like serious thought SHOULD go into whether or not to have a child.

    Financial decisions as whether you can afford either one unfortunately aren’t always considered.

  72. Susan says:

    When I was single, I had a mantra: First Marriage, then Mortgage THEN pets!
    I grew up in a family with a firm mantra of “A pet is a pet for life”, and I knew that I needed waaay more financial and home stability and a non-rental home before I became the sole support for any living creature bigger than a dime store gold fish.
    I feel that if you take on a pet, you have the same obligation to them as you would to a child. So yes, when you adopt a pet, you take on the responsibility to take on the costs like vet bills, food, and a home they can share. It’s a cost these people chose to take on, and one they should meet. If they want to save more money, they need to look in other areas than breaking their commitment to their pets.
    If I were homeless or severely ill, yes, I would find another home for them (in fact, I have already made arrangements with a dear friend of mine to find a loving home for our cats if anything would should happen to my husband and me). However, that kind of imposition should only be made in dire straits, NOT in the case of “I want to put more money away and don’t want to give up my daily latte”.

  73. GC says:

    I tried giving up my cats when I was going through a time when I felt I was not the best person to look after them. In the end, the rough patch passed and the adoption fell through anyway.

    But it is definitely better to find a loving home for a pet one can’t look after any more. If I found one day I couldn’t look after a child, wouldn’t it be better to ask family to help rather than cause the child to suffer just for the sake of sticking to my committment?

  74. Rhiannon says:

    For some people like myself who is childless and will likely remain so, my dog is my daughter. I may treat her like a dog, but she is no less important to me than a child would be. I have a limited amount of years with my dog before she will die, so I have devoted the next 10 years or so of my life to taking care of her as best I can which yes, sometimes means sacrificing myself for her. I have been living off my savings and odd jobs finishing my year-long internship for my degree and I have always made her a priority with my finances. I worked three long years with three jobs through my undergrad to save up for this year of a non-paid internship and I have no problem going without sometimes to ensure that she has what she needs. Like Trent always says, we should spend our time and money on what is important to us not what is important to other people.

  75. Daizy says:

    Just last year I decided to be a dog foster. If it is available in your area, fostering is a great way to see if you can handle the responsibilities of a dog. The rescue group here in Tucson, AZ covers all medical expenses and gives advice and adoption support. It has been a great experience and I just picked up my 12th foster dog from the pound yesterday since the last one was adopted out on Saturday. The rescue groups will even let students and snowbirds foster while they are in town and return the dogs afterwards. My sister was visiting for 6 weeks and her family was able to foster 3 different dogs giving her kids a taste of the responsibilities of a pet. Once a dog is adopted it can be returned to the rescue for any reason. I highly recommend fostering and adopting from a rescue group. You always know there is a back-up plan for your pet (assuming the rescue doesn’t disappear).

    Oh, and lots of homeless people have pets here. Many of them take care of stray dogs. They get more hand-outs with a cute puppy by their side.

  76. heather says:

    Pets are not children, no, but they ARE important members of our family, and when we adopt (shelter dogs all the way) we make a commitment to take care of them for life.

    We lost our beloved Husky last fall, and while I’d love to adopt another, we just can’t right now. We simply don’t have enough time to devote to a new pet. Of COURSE you have to budget for pet care – food, toys, licensing, kenneling when you’re on vacation, vet visits – it’s part of the reality of being a pet owner.

    And should a catastrophic situation make it necessary to find a new home for your pet, that’s just part of being a responsible pet parent. There are charitable organizations in many communities that will help cover vet costs for owners in financial difficulty – explore all your options before giving up your animals.

  77. Kerry D. says:

    @29, Honey: I’m with you! I do have (3) children, and my two dogs are pretty much up there with them–pretty much the same level to me. I don’t think kids are anywhere nearly as horrible as you’ve heard, but definitely challenging. (Various special needs.) The steady devotion of my dogs does a lot for me and my family, not to mention that they’re great guard dogs. Definitely a commitment–the food, vet and time and money to train them well… We’d have to be on the verge of starvation before I’d rehome them.

  78. tammy says:

    I read the initial snippet from ‘Get Rich Slowly’ with the opinion that it was a perfect example of Trent’s constant crusade about spending money toward your values and priorities. One person in the snip obviously considered their dogs a priority – and worth the added rental expense – while the other didn’t. Frankly, it surprised me that Trent didn’t touch on that facet AT ALL.

    I’ve been a ‘pet person’ my whole life – my husband and daughter are too, thank goodness – and while we’ve lost pets over the years to accidents, illness and escape, and we’ve given a few pets to friends and family and whatnot – our house apparently has a secret sign that says ‘Strays Welcome Here’ and occasionally we need to trim the herd – I cannot imagine life without pets. I just can’t.

    I have allergies, but I’m not willing to give up my favorite cat. That’s a choice I make because the allergy impacts only me. If it was my child that was sniffling and having breathing issues, that’s a completely different matter entirely. Pets are not people, but they still have emotional value to those who love them.

    Like so many things Trent talks about, it comes down to what’s important to you, where your values lie and there is no hard and fast answer.

  79. rena says:

    The neighbors who poisoned Lolly exhibit antisocial behavior and today would have been locked away.
    One thing I have discovered over the yrs -Never trust a person who doesn’t have a dog or a cat.
    If times get tough, there are charities that assist with vet bills and pet food. There are lots of people out there who would help a family in need with pet issues. Ask for the help.

  80. Ryan says:

    What your neighbor did makes me what to vomit. To think of a plan like that and then put it into action…

    Someone who would do that is a very dangerous person – to animals and humans alike.

    Antifreeze has a very sweet taste to it, something that toddlers and young children could easily get into. So irresponsible.

    If it’s not too painful to discuss, can I ask if your neighbor was ever confronted about it?

  81. Mindy says:

    Why are people getting pets if they aren’t members of the family? To accessorize? To teach their children responsibility? To look cute in family photos? On a whim? These aren’t reasons to get a pet. If you aren’t thinking of your potential pet as a family member, please pass on getting one as you aren’t ready for the commitment involved.

    I had a cat from a young age. I developed allergies (had to get shots weekly) but we kept the cat because she meant everything to me. It is livable to have allergies and live with cats (as long as it isn’t deathly severe/causes asthma attacks). Both my sister and I do it. You learn not to rub your eyes after petting the cat and vacuum regularly. I have developed great resistance to cats I live with and cats my friends have (after sneezing like crazy during the first few encounters) as I think you can build up some resistance to a particular cat’s dander after regular interaction.

    I also volunteer at a no kill shelter and it is heartbreaking to see a cat turned in by it’s owner and now crying for attention that it can only be given an hour or two during a day after having a home, and a bed to sleep in. The cat now sleeps in a cage and begs for just one pet from you. And most adult cats turned in will live the rest of their lives at this shelter as people seem to only want to adopt cute kittens and puppies.

  82. Raina says:

    This post that Trent wrote was as a follow up to yesterday’s post in which the friend was not able to even house himself properly and didn’t have any forseeable income that would take care of his family and his pets.

    I’ve been a pet owner in the past, and after the natural death of my cat (who lived for 15 years, with us ever since he was born), I have been unable to financially care for a pet due to other financial obligations. Oh, and Tiger was an indoor/outdoor cat and was not happy living a life indoors, so take that Heidi!

    I find @Heidi to be so entirely judgmental about today’s post that I just had to respond.

    1. Even suggesting that Trent should have kept his cats and told his father deal with it was SO out of line. I’m sorry, when do we start valuing humans around here? Is Heidi a doctor? Does she really not know how crippling pet allergies can be? Is she really saying that there are ways to get around ALL pet allergies? Well, if she is, then someone award Heidi the Nobel Award for Science and we should all consider ourselves honored that she chose to post her comment today, because she’s got it all figured out.

    2. Unless you’re a dog or a cat, you don’t know that pets are happiest inside. Heidi, you are projecting. You should say that pets are safest inside. I think that’s what you really meant because your original claim is entirely indefensible. Also, if you’re going to defend that animals are on par with humans, then wouldn’t it be safe to say that it was the DOG’S CHOICE to be outside and have the freedom to walk between houses if he wanted to go visit the relatives? Seriously, I think you’d be singing a WAY different tune if the dog was yours and you treated it like ‘family’, letting the dog make its own choices much like we allow our family members to make their own choices. No offense, but it sounds like your animals are serving out a luxury jail sentence in your home.

    3. The puppies and rainbows comment was entirely unnecessary and demeaning. People rehome pets all the time. You are just projecting your own abandonment issues onto the animals. You really need to look into the statistics a little deeper before you start taking aim at Trent when you say that many of the pets that are surrendered end up getting killed. It is not Trent’s personal problem to take on the burden of the irresponsibility of dog breeders with no scruples who produce more animals than they can realistically find homes for, people who neglect to get their pets spayed or neutered, or those who just simply don’t give a crap where their pet is at any given time of the day and don’t care for them. You don’t even know if rehoming is successful. Since you don’t like the idea of it, you’ve dismissed it entirely. Way to keep an open mind Heidi!

    Are animals probably harmed by being ‘rehomed’. That’s so debatable. I think if you cannot take care of your pet, it’s no moral sin to ‘rehome’ them. I am all for planning the care of your pets into your financial plans and trying to make sure that you’ve taken care of all contingencies. But guess what? Like Buddhists understand perfectly, life is never solid and the ground is always shifting under your feet no matter how prepared you think you are. Sh*t happens, so get over it Heidi. Giving up your pets is not the worst you can do. People have had to give up a lot more than that in life, and they survive. In fact, many animals, until we ‘domesticated’ them, have way more skills to survive hardship than humans will ever have, so get off your high horse, Heidi.

    It’s so funny that pet lovers (I mean those who are irrational and rabid about pets to the point that they’ve lost all humanity and perspective) tend to be the most inhumane toward humans and defend pets like they’re defenseless. Talk about a whole host of psychological projections going on there. I’ve always felt that people like this have a rough time with human relationships and tend to put animals on a pedestal because they can’t talk or reject you outright. People like this are imbalanced and maybe shouldn’t own pets, either. I think their pets think they’re annoying.

  83. marta says:

    “we won’t be involved in bringing a new pet into the world when there are so many great ones already out there who need a home.”

    Heh, replace “pet” with “child.

    Now, the subject of giving up pets is an emotionally charged one. I think that too many people are cavalier about pet ownership and do not realise what they are getting into when they get their new furry toys. Yes, toys, because that’s how they seem to see them, to be disposed whenever they get tired of them.

    And yes, having a pet is a commitment. Your “bad scenarios” crack me up: again, replace “pets” with “kids”. Bipolar people should give up on their KIDS because they cam become an active danger to them? Jeez.

    Surely, if things get really, really bad and your pets are for the worse because of it, so yes, find a solution. But you are not being very realistic either, older pets are not so adoptable, everyone wants puppies or kittens.

    What happened to your dogs was sad, and what your neighbour did was despicable. But how the heck is living in the country, where they can roam freely, going to help? That’s how dogs and cats get run over. You’ll have neighbours in the country too, you know.

  84. wickham says:

    I think the useful point of your article (generally, what to do when the unexpected happens) became lost when you offered your example regarding your father’s allergies to cats. Unless you said otherwise, you apparently knew about his allergies before you brought home the cats, so why did you bring home the cats? Could you not foresee that it was very likely that your father would not be able to come to your home? So, you ended up finding them new homes (how fortunate), and yet you conclude by mentioning the possibility that you might get more cats in the future, if you can live in the country. Would living in the country then make it possible for your father to come to your home? Not if he is as allergic as you say.

    It is that lack of foresight that frustrates people who volunteer at animal shelters and spend their weekends helping animal adoption agencies and animal rescue groups. Most people who drop their animals off at the shelter are not people who have suffered some catastrophic, unforeseen change in circumstances. Sure, there are some cases, but most are people who have tired of their animals, whose kids won’t help out with walking the dog, who think their cat is way too playful (that is what the family said about the wonderful cat I adopted from the shelter – they had adopted him, but he was too much of a people cat for them, so they brought him back to the shelter where, as a favorite of the staff, he managed to survive another 9 months in the shelter until I found him, thank goodness.) Some bring them in because their kids have allergies, or they have allergies, but they thought they could live with it by taking Claritin. If you know you have allergies, then don’t adopt animals that trigger allergies. If you think you might have allergies, then go hang out at a friend’s home that does have animals, and see what happens. Allergies are not a catastrophic, unforeseeable event. No one in our family had allergies or thought they might have allergies, but we spent many years in various people’s homes where animals were present, and because no one ever had a reaction, we felt very confident. If anyone had had the slightest reaction, we would not have animals at all.

    I tend more towards Heidi’s views. Before I agreed to adopt the two cats we have, I already knew that I would not bring any animal into our home unless I was 100% committed to keeping that animal for its entire life. I spent many years disappointing my kids, who wanted pets so badly, because I knew that our family was not ready to commit to a pet. We were moving a lot and some family members were struggling with health issues. It was not the time. Our situation finally become one which was well-suited for pets, and I chose cats, because I knew that cats would fit our lifestyle, and the cats would be happy. I always thought we would get a dog, but I know, from other family members and neighbors, that I (as the primary adult overseeing the pets) would not have the time to give to a dog and I knew, because I was honest with myself, that I wanted our family to be able to travel one day or two away from home – with cats, this is possible, with dogs, it is not. So no dogs for us. My kids get plenty of time with other people’s dogs – usually people who don’t want to give their dogs the attention they need, so the dogs come running over to my kids for some playtime. That is fine with me, because the dogs go back home (though, when I hear them crying and howling sometimes during the day for lack of attention, I feel so sad for them.)

    If more people would be honest about their situation, and take the time to count all the costs (time, the purpose, the animal’s needs, vet bills, change in lifestyle, etc), then I believe we would have far fewer abandoned pets at the shelters. And, for those who find themselves able to bring home a pet, and do so with 100% commitment (understanding that life is not an all-or-nothing game and things can happen), then please go to shelters and adoption agencies and rescue groups first.

    The intent of the article was a good one – take the time to consider what you would do if the unexpected happened. That goes for life in general.

  85. Matt says:

    I was just curious about JD’s quoted part… why would JD feel that the person made a bad choice? In fact, if anything they did what was best for them and their dogs. They bought a larger home in order to better take care of their dogs, and obivously this is important to them.

    I don’t know if you were trying to infer that paying a higher rent means that you can’t financially afford them, but the quote to the post seems like it doesn’t follow.

  86. TheTruth says:

    Nothing disgusts me more than people talking about “special needs” children.

    If I ever had a rha-tard for a baby I would go into severe depression. Nothing would depress me more than knowing I was a babysitter for the rest of my life for some blob of life that will never be able to take care of itself. Also I am assuming anyone who thinks I am being harsh here is 100% pro-life.

    I feel so sorry for any parent that gets force into this terrible situation. I don’t know how you do it.

    Give me a dog any day! :)

  87. TheTruth says:

    Also, just to add, I am 100% pro-life as well.

  88. TheTruth says:

    Also, sorry for the multiple posts, but just to add, if I had a neighbor like yours he would have hell to pay. Anything I thought I could get away with would be put into play, the easiest stuff that comes to mind is vandalizing his house as much as possible, especially if he ever went on vacation. There is absolutely no excuse for his actions. I hope his crime was reported if nothing else.

    This actually makes me regret my last post as I’m sure retarded kids are better people than your ex-neighbor was.

  89. marta says:

    @62:Did you read JD’s original post? It was about his friend being in a bad financial situation and making not so smart choices (buying iPhones for himself and the family, etc).

    He said that, if his friend was getting a $1300 rental just because of his dogs, maybe he should be looking into “getting rid of the dogs”. Which is a bit problematic, but well.

    That was the context of that quote.

  90. shahrul azwad says:

    I’ve read both blog everyday. I discovered both Trent and JD are giving well balanced and honest review.

    There are so many remarks by people who missed the point as if they read Trent’s post halfway. Trent already clarified that if you just can’t move on with the pet maintenance, give it away at the right places.

    I agree there was a commitment at the first place. Just like a marriage, it can ends in a divorce that left both people happier.

  91. George says:

    @#42 Michelle – you expect your inlaws to get rid of their animals who they LOVE and care for on a daily basis, so that you can come “visit” more often? Because “family” is supposed to be more important? Perhaps you could get off your high horse and realize that those animals mean something to them and that a conversation about the problem might be the adult way to handle it. It is too bad you have such an allergic reaction, but everyone around you shouldn’t have to get rid of their animals just for you.

  92. Sandy L says:

    Domesticated animals historically were either food or had jobs (horses, sheep dogs). This concept of companion animals only came because it became a status symbol of the rich.

    So Yes, I think animals are a luxury and a multi-billion dollar industry. I think it’s another form of consumerism that’s gotten way out of control. The sad thing is animals aren’t stuff and are suffering as a result. There is clearly a supply and demand issue and millions of animals don’t have a home to go to as a result. I’m sure the pet industry would love every one of those strays to be adopted so they can sell you more food and chew toys, but it’s sad that they are treated like just another commodity in many ways.

    Many animal lovers are also environmentalists, but I’d love to see the carbon footprint on the pet industry. Pet food alone is usually at least 10% of a grocery store shelf space.

    I choose not to have pets not only because I’m allergic but I also think it’s a drain on our natural resources. I choose to have a small family for the same reason. Plus, I saw how devistated some family members were after the loss of an beloved pet and I’m too selfish to go through that multiple times in my life.

  93. allergic says:

    I’m one of those people who’s allergic to animals and has a close family member with lots of animals. The last count was over 20 and growing.

    She calls them “her family” and is on a misson to rescue as many animals as she can. She does not work, collects public assistance and uses the care of her pets as an excuse of being too busy to work. She really sees her calling in life as taking care of helpless animals. She has some socialization issues, so having tons of animals to take care of is another way to stay cooped up in her house.

    I struggle and wonder if pets were the best thing that happened to her or the worst thing. She didn’t get her first pet until her 30’s. She finds great comfort in them, but at the same time, it allows her to withdraw further from society.

    I think at some time in the near future, she will reach the point where she will not be able to care for the animals any longer, either because she adopts too many and/or she depletes the rest of her savings. What will happen then? Each animal is a commitment, but is it still the same when you have 20 or 30 in your home? Is it right for tax payers to take care of her so she can take care of the animals she rescued? How does this fit into what people are touting as personal responsibility to animals one adopts? I don’t know the answers and that’s why I am posting here for people’s opinions.

  94. deRuiter says:

    Trent, Don’t rush to get a new dog. With the philosophy that pets should be allowed to run loose and unsupervised, the next dog will be dispatched by a neighbor tired of your dog defecating on his property, or when the dog strays into the road and traumatises the poor person who hits him accidently. How many times had your neighbor complained about Lolly being in his yard? It’s not likely that the neighbor saw your well trained, non barking dog always confined to your yard by fence or leash, and came on your property to poison it. A family who will leave an animal in its death agony for two days without taking it to a vet doesn’t need a dog. Folks, take your unwanted pet to a shelter and hope for the best, if no close friend or family member steps forward to take the unwanted pet. Monsters cruise Craigslist, those “nice” people who “love” your pet may be bunchers for labratories, those looking to do animal torture or sacrifice, or those who will drop the pet in the country when they become bored with the responsibilities. People who take free or cheap horses hustle them immediately off to the auction where they are sold to meat killers. Then starts the nightmare trip to Mexico or Canada without water, the weak horses falling to the floor to be trampled by the stronger. Oh, let’s not forget the stop over the border in Mexico where the stronger horses are rented for $75. to the Mexican tripping rodeos where the horses have a rope tied to a leg, and are beaten to make them run to the end of the rope where they fall in a painful and spectacular fashion. Then the horses, with broken or sprained legs, and torn shoulders, are loaded back in the trailer for the trip to the non humane slaughter house. Isn’t it nice that horse slaughter was recently banned in America where the horses traveled a shorter, less stressful distance to their fate, and legally had to be killed by humane methods (compared to the Mexican techniques) and were protected from the worst cruelty which they now suffer under this new system? Do the right thing, take the animal to a shelter where they will vet potential adopters, and ask for the return of the animal if the new people can not keep it.

  95. SF says:

    Plain and simple, there are times people need to divest themselves of their pets. It is never an easy decision.

    Other resources that can help you find a home for your pet: your vet and your dog groomer. Both of these people have clients – and employees – that love pets and may be looking for another one. Our vet has a bulletin board with pets that need new homes. Our groomer will tape a flyer to her countertop occasionally when she knows the pet that needs a new home.

  96. Janie Riddle says:

    You are brave to start this dialogue. I have 2 dogs and enjoy them. I would not have them by myself as I could not take care of them by myself. I think cats are beautiful. I went to a meeting at someone’s house and forgot to ask if she had a cat. From August to December it cost me 2200 dollars out of my pocket for ashma medicine. People without allergies truly do not understand.
    I think people would get fewer animals they can not care for if they chose dogs over puppies. Thanks for starting this.

  97. Annie says:

    Thank you for this post. I haven’t seen very many (if any) posts about pets on financial websites that truly discussed the issue in a thoughtful and considerate way. Thank you.

  98. Courtney says:

    “I read the initial snippet from ‘Get Rich Slowly’ with the opinion that it was a perfect example of Trent’s constant crusade about spending money toward your values and priorities.”

    From JD’s original full article, the friend had just lost a home to foreclosure, declared bankruptcy, and both he and his wife lost their jobs (although the friend said he had found work by the time of their dinner meeting). That’s not really a place where you should be thinking about spending on your values and priorities; that’s the place where you buckle down and think about getting some semblance of financial stability. Instead he was spending money on gadgets, paying twice as much per month for a house so he could accommodate the dogs, and thinking about a new car. Pet issue aside, JD’s point was that the guy’s priorities were fundamentally flawed.

  99. Terry says:

    I really love this blog. Thank you! It takes courage imho to post what you did today. My two cats are family to me and I’m with the person who listed all the things she would give up before giving up her cats. These creatures are incredibly intelligent, loving and add so much to my life and to the world. I’m sorry for the experiences you’ve had. I, too, have had very hard experiences with animals and losing an animal is as difficult for me as losing a human friend or family member. I also really like what the person said about his cats being the stimulus for him (or her) to save money, get out of debt, etc. True for me, too. My responsibility to them keeps me going in many ways.
    All I can add is to anyone who is considering adopting a pet, please, please, please make a commitment to the pet, learn about how to take care it, and do not let it roam outside — really make it a part of your family and your life. Many rewards in that!

  100. Kevin says:

    I’m just going to come out and say it.

    I’d put my pets’ lives above the lives of a human stranger.

    I value the lives of my family and friends above those of my pets, but if it were “save a human stranger” or “save my cat,” I’d save my cat. That’s why I’d donate money to the SPCA or Humane Society before I’d ever donate to a charity supporting humans. In fact, since my wife and I have no children, we fully intend to leave our entire estate to the SPCA when we pass.

    Humans can help themselves. Pets cannot. Pets need help far more than humans. Animals can feel, just like humans. What makes humans so much more important than dogs? Because we ARE human, and we should look out for our own species first? That seems like a pretty weak argument to me.

  101. Lindsay says:

    Trent – I totally agree with your article and JDs. There are still good people in the world that will take in animals and some very good shelters. People need to think what is best for the animal may not be best for its owner.

    That being said I currently have 6 dogs, 5 are rescues (3 as adults over 3 years old, 2 as puppies), and the last is a 17 year old poodle I have had since I was 10 – I’m 27 now. They all had their own issues but now are wonderful dogs. I also have 4 rescued cats, the most recent one being 8 years old and coming 1 week ago. Is now licking itself raw from anxiety, his owners son went off to college and the cat was very attached to the son. One of the other cats I took in at 15 years old because the owner past, that was 5 years ago and she is still fat and happy. In the past I would take in stray cats, and litters of motherless kittens. I have personally spayed/neutored over 50 cats and close to 30 dogs. Almost all of the animals I have taken in have found wonderful homes, the other I have kept or have past away to a better place. Now I try to assist pet owners in other ways: pay for pets to be fixed, offer to buy pet supplies, assist with a ride to the vet and if need assist with finding a rescue for their pets.


  102. Hmmm…my comment from yesterday is still not showing.

    I think you should try your hardest to keep pets but not unlike a house that is about to get foreclosed – at some point you have to admit reality and let go.

  103. aeko says:

    the more people I meet, the more I like my dog.

  104. donna says:

    Ferrets. Oh, your mom has ferrets, do you think she would like some more? I wish they would ban ferret breeding and selling of the kits, they finally got a bill passed that they had to be older, than the one time “oh, how cute stage”. I did ferret rescue for many years, and even lost my job defending my loveable ferrets (they are mischevious, also). I have a dog, that i keep saying has a BIG heart, cause he has terrible allgeries in the summer and , well she blows his coat, and smells terribly at times…but we would never get rid of him (we can afford to keep him). He is the most loving “watch” dog. Ulyssees is a shepherd/lab mix, barks at passersby, sometimes scares the postal carriers who don’t know him (find mail with dog written on the outside) day after it should have been delivered, he is a good “show” for offenders, but a loving dog non the less and wouldn’t harm anyone “at least who is honorable” we have never had to learn about any other kind of personality yet.
    You will meet a lot of people these days who criteria for priorities do not fit your own. I love animals, always have. I cried terribly when my ferrets passed away from numerous illnesses…i will miss my dog when he leaves us, 2 cats came home from Ca. with us, and now both reside in ashes on my cabinet (my beloved cats)one would sleep at my head on the pillow and the other (Asbury) would get on the bed beside me , meowl, and i would lift the blankies and he would crawl beneath beside me. I haven’t been able to get any other cats…i miss my boys…Tigger and Boo…
    Just remember “judge not lest you be judged by the same measure you are using to measure with”. You need to get to the roots of things, first before you make a determination.
    My ferrets were just an excuse to expunge me from a position that i was good at (no i am not bragging). i have watched each person behind this fall one by one, including the mgr. I miss my job, but not the people i had to deal with. I would choose many critters over human beings, for we have the ability to reason out our actions…animals act on instinct…you love them they love you back (for the most part).
    People often leave me scratching my head…but God will sort that all out in the end.

  105. Isn’t it illegal to kill someone’s pet? There has GOT to be a law against that! That’s so horrid! If my neighbor did that you better believe something would go down. Horrible.

    As to the rest of the article I totally agree. Anything you can’t take care of properly needs to go to someone who can. I mean, that’s basic logic. Yeah, it sucks, yeah, it hurts but it’s better than letting an animal suffer and yes, I don’t eat meat. ha

  106. Joanne says:

    I think it’s sad that your two dogs met disaster because you let them run loose unsupervised. Whether you lived in the country or not, dogs should be fenced or leashed, or under your gaze if they are reliably trained to come when called. Shame on you for exposing them to the dangers that led to their deaths. As to whether pets have more value than children, it’s not for you or anyone else to decide. It’s above your pay grade.

  107. MRH says:

    One option for people wanting a “bit of dog,” especially a kid with an allergic parent or sibling, is to contact the local elder-care or disability care office. They often have clients who have dogs that need walking. In my city days, I helped out with a group that walked the dogs of AIDS patients. I recommended this path to a friend whose kid wanted a dog, but she didn’t. They were put in contact with an older neighbor who couldn’t see to walk the dog after dark. It’s worked out really well on all sorts of levels.

  108. shabadeux says:

    To those who have allergies: why on earth would you not consider immunotherapy? Allergy shots are inexpensive and can be extremely effective.

    I have allergies and I know allergies can be severe, but in most circumstances people use allergies as a cop out for getting rid of a pet. If you knew you had allergies, why get a pet? Why aren’t you seeking treatment to alleviate symptoms? Have you tried switching litter/bedding/food for your pet? Tried keeping the pet out of the bedroom and using an air purifier?

    I think way too many people go into pet ownership without thinking about the costs. If you can’t afford a pet, don’t get one. There are too many rescues dealing with the mistakes of those who don’t plan ahead. These are living things. If you think a pet is disposable, you should never get a pet. You are not ready for pet ownership.

  109. Joe says:


    Thank you for sharing what I consider a devastating tale of your dogs. I almost cried while reading it. Very powerful and I can only imagine the emotions experience by typing it out.

    Thank you for providing me with extra incentive to go home today and hug my dog.


  110. Wes says:

    @Heidi Sorry, but I have to call total BS on this:

    “Both cats and dogs are happiest and healthiest inside.”

    Think about that statement for a bit. Dogs and cats are ANIMALS – you may be happiest with them inside, but, like all animals, they’re made to live outside. But let’s try a little experiment. Let’s both go on one week vacations – I’ll leave my cats outside, you leave yours inside. But the stakes have to be level – don’t leave your cats any food, water or toys. We’re trying to see where they’re naturally happiest and healthiest. Here’s what I’d wager: I’ll come home from my vacation to find my cats very much alive and frisky (albeit with about 20 dead animals – my cats’ victims – on my porch); you’ll come home to find your cats dead of dehydration. Don’t confuse your happiness – which stems from your cats being safe because you can artificially create an environment for them indoors – with an animal’s happiness. Animals like our cats/dogs have been living outside for far longer than we’ve been keeping them indoors.

  111. Matt says:

    @Trent #32, in reply to Heidi regarding “100% commitment”.

    I agree with your logic; you are right, virtually no one can truly commit to a pet 100%, due to so many factors outside of anyone’s control.

    However, just to be somewhat of a smarty-pants, I think you can come very close (to actual 100% commitment). One of my close friends is a millionaire, and I’ve now seen a few examples where enough money will buy you just about anything. One example: he had a cat he was trying to get rid of; he of course wanted it to go to a good home, but was in a hurry. Local no-kill shelters have a waiting list. However, he found out that if he made a big enough donation, his cat would get bumped to the #1 spot on the waiting list. (Fortunately, another one of my friends wanted to adopt a cat, so, ultimately, he went to a good, loving home).

    So, take this example to the next level. Consider a pet “trust fund”: you set aside a ton of money in a fund, and create a living will to specify how that money will be used to take care of your pet in case something happens to you. That fund would be used to pay for the pet’s health insurance (such a thing does exist), as well as food and toys for life, and possibly even a stipend for whoever adopts or oversees the care of the pet. The living will could further stipulate that a specific pet adoption organization would oversee that the animal ended up in a perfect home.

    I know that the overwhelming majority of us don’t have the means to set up such a “pet trust fund”, but there is a small minority of people who could do such a thing. ;)

  112. Mister E says:

    I had a friend when I was younger who had 2 dogs poisoned by purported animal lovers upset that they kept the dogs outside in a fenced yard for what they felt was too long a period of time.

    The dogs were always brought in when they wanted in or if the weather was too hot or cold but otherwise, being dogs and all, they were pretty happy outside in the large fenced yard.

    They received notes saying that dogs should never be left outside and something would be done if they were and then one day they turned up dead – antifreeze poisoning, the same as yours and later my friends received another note saying the dogs were better off dead than with them.

    Cops were called but they never figured out who had done it (I don’t know how hard they really tried to find out) and although we’ve lost touch over the years I don’t believe those friends ever owned another pet.

  113. Mary says:

    One thing on the homeless and pets. The comment that a homeless person will get more money if there is a cute pet by their side, maybe. But as a person who has worked with the homeless a dog is great protection, even the homeless sleep sometimes and a dog will alert them to possible physical danger as they are targets for abuse because they are considered sub-human. I’ve seen homeless people not go to a shelter in freezing temps because pets are not allowed. A pet loves you unconditionally, something a homeless person never gets. I’ve seen them give up part of their food, cover them up with their blankets, put them in the shopping carts they push around because the pet is injured, usually something with their feet from life on the streets. A few years ago some of us started collecting things to help the homeless with their pets, small bags of dry food, brush’s, plastic pet dish’s, flea collars, leashes, 1/2 gal. milk jugs to fill with water, blankets, we’ve let some bathe them behind the building providing shampoo. A pet is about the only normal thing in these peoples lives. And because more the half of the population is 1 or 2 checks from being on the streets, lets be a little more sensitive to the homeless.

  114. Michelle says:

    #73 Shabadeux – I had allergy shots twice weekly from age 7 until I was 15. No thanks.

  115. Lindsay says:

    #73 Immunotherapy does not always work. I went for 1 1/2 years and never received any relief from my allergies. Although in my case I do everything you spoke of as I am quite allergic to cats. What really helps is they never go in my bedroom, lots of air purifiers, wiping them down with wet cloths, only wipeable surfaces (fake leather, wood…) and cat door into the garage. The garage has AC and heat only if need, their food/water, litter boxes, toys and such…so they can be out there and I can be inside if they want. Now my brother did 2 years of immunotherapy and has no relief. He is VERY allergic to cats, ferrats, and birds! Even with all the measures that worked for me in my home. At the time they had had a ferrat and a few birds for about 3 years. My brother was always sick: sinus infection, broncitis, pneumonia, always had a sore throat…My mother ended up rehoming the animals. Often when you are exposed to an allergian more often your reaction will worsen. This could lead to life threatening reactions.

    You are right that people do not really understand how much pets cost. One broken leg or issue and you are looking at $1000’s. Yes people really need to understand all the issues with owning pets!

  116. Tim says:

    I’ve never read the comments before. This was fun.

    1. Trent, I admire you for starting The Simple Dollar. I would’ve started a blog called “Please Help Me Get Revenge on The Lunatic That Murdered My Dog.” Who poisons a dog? Your neighbor was character from a Stephen King novel.

    2. I disagree with the self-righteousness of Heidi’s post but I think she’s making a good point about preparation. I’d just add “within reason” to what she’s saying. You can’t prepare for every eventuality but you can prepare for a lot of them. We should do the best we can. If bad stuff happens we should keep doing the best we can. That is Trent’s point, I think.

    3. Pets vs. Kids: Pointless. To some people, a kid is something you get, feed, teach a few tricks and then get rid of when it’s time. You can say the same thing about pets for some people. For others, a pet is someone they care for, teach, love and share life with. It lets them be loving and caring, and they can see another living thing enjoy happiness because of their work and love. Same thing with children. Some pets are mistreated and bite and some kids are mistreated and bite even worse. It’s not fair to compare them. There are some pets that genuinely enrich the lives of others and there are people that do nothing but cause pain. Saying which is better or worse is a waste of time.

    I’m mainly talking about dogs, though. I think cats are worse than an STD.

  117. Anne says:

    I’m right there with you #70 Kevin. I’ve never met a person that gave me the unconditional love that my dogs and cats do. Not even my husband, parents or child!

    When I was single and short on cash I would always choose to go hungry so that I could buy my dog his food. A commitment is a commitment. Pets are not expendable!

  118. AC says:

    @Johanna (#4) Well said. I chose long ago to become vegetarian and stop supporting factory farming with my dollar vote.

  119. Linda says:

    I volunteer with a canine rescue group and would strongly suggest contacting a local rescue if someone finds they are unable to continue to care for their pet. We take “owner relinquishments” and know that it is extremely difficult for most of them to turn over their beloved pet to us. I have seen the letters they have written, most are quite lengthy and filled with wonderful tidbits about their furry friend–and most with obvious tear stains. The financial situation that many people now find themselves in is something that they never thought they would experience. Our group also has a clause in our adoption contract that require the person to return the dog to us if they find they are no longer able to care for the dog.

  120. Mindy says:

    JD’s comment yesterday struck a nerve with me because I care about animals so much–so much this is the first time I’ve commented!

    Just wanted to add a couple of other ideas: if you need to rehome your pet, consider contacting the local petsitters and dog walkers who come in contact with hundred of animal lovers per week.

    And the reason I thought of this . . . my kitty died of a long bout with cancer and I just wasn’t ready to get another one. I thought about volunteering at a shelter to get my “petting time” in, but knew I’ve probably own 20 cats.

    My solution was to take a job as a part-time pet sitter, a job I can do on evenings and weekends . . . I make well below what I make in my everyday job, but it’s nice to have a little more “walking money” and I feel good doing it.

    So not only have I cut costs by not having my own pet, I MAKE money from my love for them (and never have to put up with any psycho-kitty behavior long-term) :o)

  121. beth says:

    EXCELLENT post, Trent.

  122. beth says:

    “he found out that if he made a big enough donation, his cat would get bumped to the #1 spot on the waiting list.”–And he deluded himself to think this saved a cat’s life? It just changed which cat died.

  123. tarynkay says:

    People should absolutely take pet ownership more seriously. Pets are not the same as people, but if you want to have pets and treat them like your children, go for it! What I disagree with is when people get pets and treat them like practice children- then they have real, human children after while and either the pets and kids don’t get along, or its a huge financial strain, or the kids have allergies, so they ditch the pets, or they keep the pets but really neglect them. I’ve seen this happen a lot. Not that all people do this, and it’s certainly great to have kids AND pets, just that people should take into account that if they’re planning to have kids, the pets will still be around, and they should make sure they are up to caring for both. It can certainly work out to have pets first, then kids, but I do think this takes more effort than kids first, then get pets when your kids start begging for them.

  124. Cortney says:

    I’ve known people who kept animals, out of guilt, that they COULD NOT AFFORD to take proper care of. The animals could have been lovingly placed in new homes, but they feared the shame and guilt that would be placed on them for giving up their animals. It is RESPONSIBLE to logically assess the situation and decide that the animal could have a better home.

    Also, I second other comments that anyone on here getting offended had better be a vegetarian. The things that go on in slaughterhouses make a stay in a kennel and a humane shot the stuff of dreams for the animals that live such nightmares. It’s hypocritical to shame people who have had to place their animals out of love for them if you’re sitting down to a steak that came from a cow that was tortured and abused it’s entire miserable life before it was more than likely skinned and hacked to pieces while still partially alive.

  125. nina says:

    Long-time reader and first-time commenter here. I’m just wondering if those people who think pet=human, and especially the person who would save his pet’s life before a stranger’s life, would think the same way if it was YOU and a dog both drowning together. Would you be ok with the dog’s owner saving his pet and allowing you to drown?

  126. reulte says:

    Michelle (#42) – Have your in-laws visit you. Visit your in-laws but stay in a hotel. Invite them out to dinner or visit a park with you and the kids. Or let them have the kids for an all-day visit while you relax at the hotel’s spa or pool. Visiting your in-laws doesn’t mean you have to visit their cats. Don’t expect people to change their lives for you and you’re being silly by being upset because they won’t accomodate you by getting rid of their pets.

    Bill (#49) If you think everyone agrees with your opinion, you’re deluding yourself.

  127. margaret says:

    I have cousins who have dogs and love them the way most of the commenters loved their pets — as if they were members of their families. I can see the importance that they attach to their pets, and they would (and have) gone to extreme measures to care for their animals.

    HOWEVER — to a lot of people, a pet is just a pet, not a child. You have responsibilities towards that pet (in my opinion to provide the nescessities of life and to prevent suffering), but it is not the most important thing in the world. I imagine the the “pets are my children” people will be horrified at that. But there you go. I am in the pet is just a pet group. Of course, I have almost always lived on a farm, and I’ve noticed that farm people are rarely in the “pets as family” group. They might fall in love with one animal, but that doesn’t usually carry over to other pets. I am dead set against animal suffering, but that’s it. There are the outside wild cats, and they eat the mice. We make sure they don’t starve in the winter, but I feel no emotional bond to them whatsoever. We have an inside cat (NOT my choice, BTW), and we care for him, but if circumstances arose where he was ill or injured or whatever, I would not be willing to spend a lot of money on him to save him. If he turned into a crazy cat who bit the kids, he would be put down. We don’t have a dog, but same thing has always applied to dogs in my life, and I have known several dogs that were put down because they bit children. I have only known one dog that was not shot after biting a child, and that is because it was a dog with a long history of loving kids and the child who was bitten had done something to pester it — I was just a kid too so I don’t remember what exactly happened.

    Anyway, I just say that to point out the different values, since most of the commenters so far seem very passionate about there pets.

    What I want to comment on is the idea that people have that if they do not want to keep their pet, they should send it to the farm. It doesn’t seem as if this group of commenters would do it, but many people who think their pet is just a pet think that it is a GREAT idea so give their pet to the farm. I HATE THAT! This happened a lot when I was a kid. Rarely did my family care as much about the pet as the family that dropped it off (again, one exception where my mom fell in love with an absolutely insane cat). It was an extra expense for food for the pet, and no one has ever offered to pay for pet food for the animal they dropped off, although sometimes they would let us know that they only fed said pet X brand of really expensive cat food, as if we would start buying that. And quite frankly, most of those animals did not last. They would get run over or run away (although now that I am older, I imagine that some of the animals that “ran away” were actually killed by coyotes). It would turn out that the animal was destructive (one of the rare times I ever saw my dad angry was when one of those animals chewed up about $500 worth of power tools). If you weren’t willing to train your own pet out of that, did you expect that we would let them destroy things at our place? Those ones were put down too. Just the other day, a relative phoned to ask if we would take her dog. She loved this dog, but due to very serious financial constraints, she was living where she could not keep a pet. She had sent it to her sister, but apparently it had started running with a pack of dogs and was accused of killing a calf. So she thought we would want it ON OUR FARM? Good grief. I don’t supppose my husband or any of my neighbours would even bother phoning the owner if they had a dog that killed livestock — it would be shot first, and then the owner informed later.

    Anyway, although I find your attachment to your pets a little strange, I think it is wonderful that so many of you have made such careful arrangements for the care of your pets. I think this is a great post with ideas of how to get rid of a pet. There are a lot of people who are getting rid of pets who could use this kind of advice.

  128. Diane says:

    Trent, on the subject of losing pets, I agree with Heidi. Note that both of your dogs were lost because they were allowed to run loose. Obviously your neighbor was a lunatic to deliberately poison a dog, and I’m sorry about that. It must have been terrible for you as a child.

    But after that experience to have your 2nd dog run over by your brother indicates that your parents didn’t learn from the mistake of allowing the dog to run free the first time.

    Yes, I know lots of people do that out in the country – and lots of dogs die every day from poison, being hit by cars or snatched by coyotes.

    A responsible dog owner keeps his dog in the house and in a fenced yard when outside. So if you can’t find a way to fence a piece of yard for the dog with some shade and shelter when it’s outside – don’t get one!

    I think its sad to have kids growing up without a pet. But even sadder to show them that you don’t value an animal enough to take care of it properly – and subject them to the experiences that you had as a child in losing 2 pets.

    I don’t believe in getting any animal unless you intend to keep it and care for it for it’s lifetime. I will acknowledge that there may be some unexpected circumstances that could change the plan – such as becoming so disabled you can’t care for yourself and have to depend on others for your own care. Otherwise, with some planning & reordering of priorities you will probably find a way to care for the animal if you really want to.

  129. Steve says:

    I think a lot of people are missing the point of the exercise. The article isn’t about readjusting priorities to keep your pets– it’s about what to do when you’ve already done that and still can’t afford them.

    I got my cat from a shelter. She had been turned in as a neglected, pregnant, underweight cat under 2 years old. I give her a warm, loving home with all the toys and almost all of the food she could ever want (she’s getting pretty fat so we put her on a slight diet). She sleeps on top of me at night and greets me at the door when I come home from work.

    But if I truly couldn’t afford her anymore, she would go back to the shelter. I gave her a home when she had none, and giving her back to the shelter would leave her no worse off than I found her. I love animals, but I come first. I cannot truly help others unless I am able to first help myself.

    This also goes for the 3 feral kittens I found 2 years ago; I housed them, fed them, vetted them (at cheap nonprofit clinics), then gave them to loving homes because having more than 1 cat violated the terms of my lease. Would they have been better off with me? Probably. But I agreed to the terms of the lease before I found the kittens, and I would never have been able to afford to pay for the lease violations and probably would have been evicted.

  130. The Head Hunter says:

    There’s a reason I don’t have dogs (even though I love them) I’m not ready for the COMMITMENT to caring for a life from cradle to grave. That’s what you sign on for when you have pets. They are not an accessory or a toy-du-jour.

    And spare me the “what about Cows, pigs, chickens, etc…” Apples and oranges. There is a reason we have canines and incisors instead of a mouth full of molars; we don’t have 4 stomachs that can convert grass into protein, we eat our protein.

  131. Claudie says:

    I hope that I never get in a situation where I wouldn’t be able to keep my cat, but I know that I could return her to the rescue I got her from as a last resort. I know she’d be taken care of as she’d previously been, but of course it would break my heart. There are programs and rescues out there that would be able to help in a dire situation. I just wish that everyone knew about them or were willing to find out instead of just dumping them somewhere.

  132. Crystal in Ft Worth says:

    Trent-you are right. Heidi can not 100% BE SURE she will always be able to care for her pets. Nobody can EVER be 100% sure of anytrhing save for death

  133. Johanna says:

    @nina: I’m wondering what you think that argument is supposed to prove. I mean, suppose you and another person were both drowning, and the other person’s spouse/mother/friend comes along and saves them and not you. Would you be “ok” with that? If not, does that prove that you think your life is more important than anyone else’s? If the other person is of a different race than you, does it prove that you think your race is superior to all others?

    But really, the whole “Would you save the dog or the baby?” thought experiment is a big red herring, because none of the real-life situations being considered (except *maybe* the case of very severe allergies) pits a dog’s life against a human’s life. Rather, it’s more like a choice between a dog’s life and a human’s convenience.

  134. Johanna says:

    @The Head Hunter: Spare me the psuedo-evolutionary nutrition lesson. I don’t know any vegetarians who have died of protein deficiency, and neither do you.

  135. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    “Those who would give up Essential Liberty, to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” – Benjamin Franklin

    Locking a dog in a cage to keep them “safe” denies them much of the joy of living – running about, rolling in the grass, chasing rabbits, jumping in mud puddles, and all of the other things dogs love to do.

  136. Crystal says:

    As I wrote on JD’s post today, my husband and I didn’t adopt our dogs from their respective rescue organizations (HSPCA and Pughearts) until we had an emergency fund in place for all of us. My dogs are prioritized right behind the basics and internet – in this order – shelter, food, utilities, cars (no public transport to our jobs), internet (job hunting), and then dogs. All other extras and entertainment expenses are secondary. I just assumed this was usually the prioritization since I see no other reason to own pets unless you want them in your life.

    If anything happens to us that actually causes us to be homeless, we’d live with family and our dogs would be welcomed. If we had to live in a hospital or something, our dogs would still be with family or friends. I actually don’t see a scenario that would make it where our dogs couldn’t at least live with someone we know.

    No, I do not prioritize my dogs above people, but I don’t think I need to in order to be a good pet owner. Food, shelter, love, and vet visits when necessary is pretty much all they need…even though I’m lazy, I can pull that off.

  137. Robert says:

    Trent you said
    ” An example: my father is incredibly allergic to cats. Because of this, it made it impossible for him to visit us for years when we had two cats, (as you can imagine, he did want to visit his grandchildren)”

    I can not believe you made your father, your own flesh and blood wait years to see his grandchildren because he was allergic to cats.

    Also you stated in a post #40.
    “”What if you develop a bipolar disorder, meaning that when you’re in a down mood, you become an active danger to your pet?””

    Someone with bipolar is not a danger to others.
    they have meds for people with bipolar. it is more of a depression they go through. they are not a danger to society when they fall into a depression.

  138. J. O. says:

    @115 The Head Hunter

    Yes, we CAN eat meat, but we don’t HAVE TO eat meat. We don’t need four stomachs to convert grass into protein, we can use the one stomach we have to eat beans, legumes, and their derivatives. This is not only more humane, but better for the planet. It takes far more land to support raising animal protein than it does to raise protein plant crops.

  139. J. O. says:

    @ Trent – great post.

  140. Diane says:

    @Trent #135 – I would never suggest just locking your pet in a cage to keep it safe. But keeping a dog in a yard to protect it is using reasonable caution. Of course I’m assuming it will also be in the house at least part of the time and that you’ll be walking with the dog and your kids. Why have a dog if it’s not part of the family?

    I have both dogs and kids and I know the difference between animals & people. That said, would you leave your young children outside unattended in the name of ‘freedom’, allowing them to roam at will? Of course not. Dogs are like children in some ways and their freedom should be curtailed enough to keep them reasonably safe – also to avoid infringing on your neighbors’ rights, which is something to be considered as well.

    Our dog lives in the house & plays in the yard when she wants to. She runs, rolls in the grass, jumps in puddles, chases the cats (no rabbits in the yard).

    On our walks she greets & socializes with other dogs, neighbors, children, sniffs & explores. And she’s the happiest thing we’ve ever seen. We joke that we’d like to be as happy as Macy is!

    I’m sure your beliefs on the way to keep dogs are influenced by what your parents did when you were a child. But, clearly, that did not have a good outcome. You might want to keep an open mind and reconsider what’s best for the dog, if you’re going to have one.

    As several people have pointed out, many rescue organizations REQUIRE that you return the dog to them if you cannot keep it. Good breeders also require the return of the dog to them. So always check that first if you are unable to keep a pet for whatever reason.

  141. Stella says:

    I think for a lot of people giving up a pet when money is tight would be equivalent to putting a child in foster care. My sister and her husband had to give up their beloved dog due to the fact that their jobs kept them on the road and away from home for long stretches of time. But it seems like in the situation J.D. laid out, there were plenty of options to be had without giving up the dogs.

  142. #94 deRuiter made an excellent point–if the terrible situation arises where you can no longer care for an animal, Craigslist or other “free to good home” ads are NOT a good option. An animal transferred this way (even if it’s picked up by a friendly person accompanied by a child) runs a very real risk of ending up caged in a lab or used as bait for fighting dogs.

    A friend who’s involved in animal welfare and rescue offers a few rules. First, check with your local shelter to see if they have a program in place that will help you keep your pet. As another poster said, some will offer food and other types of assistance. If it’s just not possible and you choose to adopt the animal out yourself:

    1) Put the word out to friends and family that you’re looking for a loving forever home for your animal. Stipulate that the adopter will need to be someone known and trustworthy. Provide enough info about your animal to screen out incompatible homes up front.
    2) Get the potential adopter’s full name, phone number, and address. (I’d want to know where the person works, too.)
    3) Do a site visit.
    4) Most adopters have had animals before–get a reference from their vet and verify that it’s legit.
    5) Check in on the animal after a week, then after 1 month and 3 months.
    6) Ask that the animal be returned to you if the adoption doesn’t work out.

    This may seem burdensome, but considering the risk to the animal, I don’t think it’s too much to ask. They depend on us to do right by them.

    Now, the dog and I are headed to the park!

  143. Carole says:

    In frugal websites I have read a lot of hints on how to care for a pet inexpensively. I think if that is a big concern, one should not get a pet to start with. It is not everyone’s automatic right to have a pet. After you get one, it is like a child and almost impossible to part with. Just don’t get it in the first place.

  144. Lisa says:

    There is a movement recently to create food banks for animals. Here in Indianapolis, the local Humane Society and a non-profit group are each working to stock cat and dog food to give to people in need. Just a way to help people keep their pets.

  145. reulte says:

    Trent (#135) Using that logic, you wouldn’t fence in/babygate your children either.

    I don’t let my dog or my child go wandering hither and yon. And for the exact same reason – I have to set up limits which they cannot do for themselves. Dogs and kids both love to roll in icky substances – that means a bath, it’s not their choice. Dogs and kids both chew on inappropriate items, it’s my job to make sure that what they’re chewing on isn’t hazardous.

    In reference to locking a pet in a cage. What are you refering to? A crate or a fenced back yard or being chained to a doghouse because the yard isn’t fenced? A crate can be a comforting place for a dog or young puppy who is overexcited and needs a time out or a refuge. It can be used like giving your child a time-out to calm down. I have to ‘lock’ my dog in my room at night or she’ll pee in the kitchen (it’s only the kitchen and it’s only once we’ve gone to sleep). I have to lock my dog in her crate when certain people visit. She doesn’t whine or bark about it because it’s like telling your kid to go to their room — and their room has everything they need/want. When she relly wants a walk, she brings me her leash (which I did NOT teach her). Dogs may love rolling in grass and running about in unrestrained ecstacy but for the most part they’re really rather be with their person.

  146. Sheila says:

    Oh, my, Trent (@135), that’s the silliest thing I’ve read in these comments. If you want your dog to run in the grass, fence your yard or take the dog to a dog park. If you want it to jump in mud puddles, take your dog for a walk. And why would you want your dog to chase rabbits? That’s pretty cruel. Dogs are companion animals, bred to be with their humans, certainly not left to roam free in the neighborhood getting into trash cans and pooping on people’s lawns. Nor are they meant to spend their lives outside in the backyard, isolated from people, only to be thrown food a couple of times a day. When you read the Humane Society article, didn’t you read anything about crates and crate training? And if you’re going to anthropormorphize dogs using Ben Franklin quotes, then I guess the people who equated dogs to children can certainly do the same.

  147. Karen M. says:

    @Trent 135

    That is throwing a straw man out there. Yes, the polar opposite of ‘complete freedom’ is ‘caged animal’ but I think some of the comments were more on the side of ‘regular walks and a fenced yard.’

    I agree with whikham 84. I think the post was a bit muddled, and there were so many issues that none were addressed adequately.

    Neither of the pets you had as a child were re-homed. You didn’t lose them because of financial hardship, yet you spent as much time on those stories as the advice on how to re-home a pet. What you did was open the ‘indoor/outdoor dog’ can of worms. Many of these comments would not be here if not for that.

    (And didn’t you mention that your family was thinking of getting a dog this summer?)

  148. S says:

    I think many pet owners keep their suffering pets around long after they should have been put down. People need to face the facts, are they keeping them alive for themselves more than for the pets quality of life? You betcha.

    And yes I have made that decision, and I felt it would be selfish to keep my dog alive, suffering through one set back after another. I never regretted the decision but I bet I would have regretted the decision had I kept him alive.

  149. Holly says:

    Leaving the dogs to ‘run wild’ was the parents’ idea…it was not Trent’s doing.

    It does seem to be a bit different in the country. Many dogs and cats are sitting loose on the steps, on the porches, and in yards (not known whether or not they were on someone else’s property) when I drive/travel in rural areas (not that I agree w/it!).

  150. Goody says:

    In my book, only an anaphylactic-level allergy is enough reason to give up your pets. If your Dad had that level of allergy, then nothing I say here means anything, but I assume his allergy was not even “severe” because you didn’t say so. You said giving up your cats was a solution where “everyone wins,” but I seriously wonder if your wife and kids truly feel they won. If your kids weren’t brokenhearted it’s probably because you bribed them with ice cream. LOL. But, seriously, I can’t help but think you and your Dad were a little selfish in that situation. What if it was your father-in-law instead of your own father? Would it have been harder to come up with that solution? There are many ways to “manage” non-anaphylactic allergy. For example, why not visit your Dad at his house? Why not meet him somewhere outside your home so he could visit his grandkids? Did he take allergy medication? Taking it *before* you come into contact with the allergen can sometimes be more beneficial than waiting. My mother-in-law is allergic to cats and she had pretty bad allergy symptoms when she came to visit. However, they were *not* anaphylactic-level symptoms, and I would never consider giving up my cat so she could be more comfortable in my home. And I LIKE my mother-in-law. Of course, I don’t have grandkids for her to visit, but even if I did, I doubt I would give up my cat. What I do instead every time she visits is thoroughly vacuum with my HEPA vacuum cleaner every single piece of furniture, cushions, the carpet and any other surface where the dander could be. We also keep a 100% cat-free spare bedroom especially for her. The last few times she’s been here she was fine. If your Dad has anaphylactic-level allergy, my apologies, but it sure didn’t sound like it from what you wrote.

  151. Mary says:

    I think the problem here-the conflict between writer & readers-is that when you don’t own a pet, it is easy to be so practical. When you own a pet that you dearly love like a child (we have 3) there’s a big, big difference. By the way, I’m not getting rid of my cats if my husband becomes allergic. He can get the shots! I”m not angry but Trent wait until you get that big lovable Lab (or whatever) after you’re living in the country. And have him/her awhile, long enough to bond. You’ll sing a different tune.

  152. Mary says:

    RE: Sandy L’s post, about how pets are just commodities. What do you think us humans are. Those sweet,”caring” commercials on t.v., including the fake doctor ones, are all about money money money. They don’t give a rat’s anything about you or your health. Once a person dies they mean nothing to the cable company, but if someone moves into that dead person’s home well woo hoo hoo here come the cable company offers! And on & on & on. RE #111 Matt: So the animal shelters adopt out the #1 animal on their list? I always thought people went in & looked at all the animals & picked the one they wanted. I never knew you had to take #1 on the list and that was your only choice.

  153. brooke says:

    I pay $1450 in rent so that my dogs can have a backyard and we live near the dog park. I live in NYC and actually consider that a steal, but could live in a much trendier/more fun neighborhood if I didn’t have pets. BUT, I find that my life is much more complete with my fur babies, so my husband and I chose to put their welfare first. They make our family complete for sure!

    Everyone prioritizes differently!

  154. alilz says:

    I’ve tried to read this comment multiple times and really see what you were trying to (very very very very clumsily say)

    What if you develop a bipolar disorder, meaning that when you’re in a down mood, you become an active danger to your pet?

    I’m not sure why you picked bipolar disorder. I’m not sure what you mean by “down mood”. As someone with bipolar disorder I’m trying to figure out if you mean being depressed or being manic or perhaps mixed state (which is a combination of the two, sometimes when a person with bipolar disorder is transitiong from manic to depressed or vice versa).

    I’m not even sure WHY you think someone with bipolar disorder would be especially dangerous to a pet.

    Perhaps you’ve known someone who has bipolar disorder who was creul to a pet, I’m not sure. I can say as someone who spent the majority of my life with bipolar disorder undiagonsed I was never a danger to my pets. A danger to myself many times, but never my pets. In fact the people I know who also have bipolar disorder have never been a danger to their pets or their kids.

    I’m not sure why I keep reading your blog. There’s some good financial advice in here, but at least for me, it keeps getting drowned out buy who incredibly small and closed your world seems to be.

    You’ve decided to live in a place where almost everyone is like you and shares similar back grounds and experiences. And often times it makes your writing come across as rather young and naive.

  155. Ryan says:

    Yes, we should blame the victim (the dog and a young Trent) for what a psychopath did.

    Just like women who show some skin and get raped were asking for it.


  156. Sue says:

    @ The Truth, I have a disability (a hearing loss). I do not like when people have a negative attitude toward people with disabilities. Basically my philosophy is, if you do not have a disability, you do not know what life is like for a person with a disability. This may sound to be harsh, but it is very true. BTW, if you are a family member of person with a disability or you work with people with disabilities, you may have a sense of what a person with a disability may being dealing with.

    Currently, I have two dogs. One is a hound mix and the other is a Yorkie mix. The hound we get when she was a puppy. The Yorkie was re-homed with us after his owner passed away. Both are older dogs. When my parents and I went to the shelter to pick out a puppy, there was a sign saying that adopting a pet is a big responsibility.

  157. I’d get rid of them in a heartbeat….

    That’s just me…

  158. Hannah says:

    @Allie #57 I am surprised that I did not find anyone either supporting or demonizing Allie for her comments (I tried to read the comments closely, but admit I may have missed one). I would think many people would find it way harsh.

    But thank you, Allie, for a great comment and sound reasoning. From my personal experience with and observations of my current cat, I don’t think she’d survive “rehoming”, though I have had other cats that might be okay with it. I think it depends upon the animal’s personality.

  159. DiscoApu says:

    About a month ago a guy was murdered for letting his dog pee on a guys yard in the south side of chicago.

    (WBBM) — A Will County judge Tuesday set bond at $3 million for a University Park man accused of gunning down a 23-year-old neighbor because the neighbor’s puppy urinated on his lawn.

    The 69-year-old suspect, Charles Clements, routinely wins the suburb’s lawn beautification award. But he is also known for threatening anyone who dares to set foot in his yard.

    Assistant State’s Attorney Sondra Denmark told Judge Marzell Richardson Jr. that Clements confronted Joshua Funches as Funches walked his fox terrier.

    Denmark said in the argument that ensued, Funches allegedly swung at Clements and said, “Next time you pull out a pistol, why don’t you use it?” Witnesses told police that seconds later, Clements shot Funches.

    Clements then changed his clothes, put the pistol used in the shooting in a dresser drawer, sat down in his garage and waited for police, telling them when they arrived, “I knew you were coming for me, so I changed my clothes.”

    Funches’ mother Patricia made an emotional plea in front of Judge Richardson in support of the $3 million bail request, calling her son’s death “senseless” and claiming that Clements routinely threatened children.

    In setting the bail, Judge Richardson noted that Clements allegedly told Funches that he would be found innocent if arrested.

    Clements returns to court at 9 a.m. June 1.

    Why do old men get so cranky about their yards?

  160. Trent, I really like you but was disappointed with this post.

    It doesn’t seem that you are an animal lover when you criticize your friend for paying more to house his dogs.

    I also wouldn’t have gotten rid of my cats because of a non-resident family member’s allergies. Alternate solutions include: 1. Go visit him. 2. He can take allergy medications when visiting. Have cat-free zone in the house.

  161. Diane says:

    @Ryan #151, I don’t think Trent is being blamed for what some psycho did to his dog when he was a child. The neighbor was responsible for his actions, which were dispicable.

    However, Trent’s parents were responsible for letting the dog run loose – going 3 houses down to visit his aunt & uncle – while the neighbor complained about it. Nothing learned there, as they then let the next much-loved dog run loose until it was run over by Trent’s brother!

    The issue is that Trent mentioned getting a dog “when we live in the country and the dog has a lot of outdoor freedom” – leading one to believe that he intends to repeat the mistakes of his parents and let the dog run loose!

    If you don’t want to take reasonable precautions to ‘protect’ your pet, maybe you shouldn’t have one.

    I agree that these stories from Trent’s childhood were probably distracting in the post, leading to many posts about pets, but separate from rehoming animals. Two different, but interesting topics…

  162. anne says:

    this is how i found homes for three cats i couldn’t keep anymore- an ad in the “free stuff” section of the newpaper:

    “One, two, or three indoor cats who want to be outdoor cats. All spayed or neutered with up to date shots.”

    i couldn’t believe how many phone calls i got. the little girl cat went to a very sweet lady who was maybe 25 or so. since she was the first to come, she got most of the supplies, like the nail clippers, brushes and such.

    the two brothers went together to a guy who had an old farm house and a barn and wanted mousers. since the cats were constantly hunting each other inside the condo and destroying the place, i know they couldn’t have been happier.

    i had been going nuts taking care of the cats in the condo we were living in- the rules forbade outdoor pets, and the cats shredded the screens so they could let themselves outside. when i found myself pregnant, i knew the cats had to go. noone else was going to change the litter for me, and i knew i could barely keep up w/ the cats’ demands and destruction- cats AND the baby were going to be too much for me.

  163. Erin says:

    @shabadeux says –
    To those who have allergies: why on earth would you not consider immunotherapy? Allergy shots are inexpensive and can be extremely effective.

    Inexpensive? I am about to start allergy shots and I have excellent health insurance – and it is going to cost me $80/month in co-pays ($20/per visit, 1 visit per week for 6-12 months. Then after that I will go every 2-4 weeks for a minimum of 2-3 years). Some people go twice a week, that would be $160/month in co-pays. I would hardly call that inexpensive. And while they do have a fairly high success rate, they don’t even work for 20% or more of people.

  164. Kerry D. says:

    @86 TheTruth: Wow, sorry but that is harsh. Thank goodness that you’re “healthy”… That’s about all I can say politely.

  165. Frankie says:

    Animals are not people. Or kids. Or even close. In any way. Weather you have kids or not.

    1. it is illegal to drop your kids off and leave them somewhere if you no longer want them. To give up your children, you must go through some pretty extensive legal hoops. No so with a pet.

    2. If I wish to go on vacation, I kennel my dog and cat. If it’s only a few days, I can leave my cat with food and water and she’s quite content. The kids? Right…

    3. My pets will never have to be educated, or be EXPECTED to contribute to society in any way. If they do, that’s awesome! But the law if not watching to see where I send my dog to school. I have little to no responsibility to do anything but feed them and keep them from hurting people.

    4. My pets are predisposed to a certain temperament based on their breed. This is absolutely affected by how I treat them, but not how I RAISE them. My children are affected by not just their nature, but their nurture. Which, ironically, can be negatively affected by the pets. For example the fear my son had after the dog bit him.

    So, I don’t get how people even START to compare pets to kids. Emotionally, maybe, but people who make their financial decisions emotionally will find themselves broke sooner rather than later.

    Also, to those of you who say that you would save your dog over a stranger, you should know that my dog would save you, a stranger, over himself. Huh, it seems my dog is a better person than you are.

    But that doesn’t surprise me. My dog rocks. Even if he did bite my son. (my son took his bone. He was 2. He didn’t know better.)

  166. dan says:

    Living in the inner city, I see that pets are simply part of a long list of things – digital cable bills, huge televisions, cigarettes and liquor and street drugs, Disney vacations, etc. – that people who can’t afford feel entitled to anyway. Logic and long-term thinking have no place in their lives. Immediate compulsions rule. If you can’t get someone earning $15K/year to stop spending $200/month on cable TV, there’s no way you’re going to get them to stop spending it on pets.

  167. jesse.anne.o says:

    What the comments on this post have showed me:

    1) Most people have NO idea about how many animals get put down in almost every community due to lack of homes (not behavior, not health). People really believe if you look for a good home for a pet, you will always find it. If you don’t know what’s going on with your community, I implore you to do the research. Communities who do not kill for lack of space are few and far between.

    2) People who don’t have or want pets have an awful lot to say on a subject they have nothing to do with and very little experience or expertise on. It makes me wonder if I also voice an opinion on things I have no experience with based only on my perceptions?

    3) All of these comments snowballed out of a post about whether it’s appropriate to judge others.

    4) When you make money for me, you can tell me how to spend it!

    5) It’s unreal to me that a comment asking why someone in debt isn’t considering getting rid of his dogs begged the question “how much would you spend on your animals” — it was like a knee-jerk response to people posting concern about the original comment. It wasn’t in the original post but popped up in the comments – as if you’re asking those of us who cared about the dogs in the comment to “really prove it” and “put our money where our mouth is”? They are just 2 totally different issues — there is the issue of what you’d give up before you had to rehome your pets and whether that’s even an appropriate thing to suggest to someone (I’d defriend anyone who suggested that before anything inanimate in a half a second – talk about judging) and THEN there’s the issue of quality of life/relative cost of long-term vet care in an illness situation. Clearly people will find their own path to balancing the life quality/cost. How could that even be answered in a definitive way? Each situation is different.

    These posts have made me more than a little sad – both at the state of animals and the state of people, too.

  168. Christians are not always right says:

    First of all, JD, if you friend wants a $1300 dollar place a month, then let him make his own decisions. You didn’t mention in the article that he was hurting for money, so its kind of one of those “mind your own business” things, but you suggest getting rid of his dogs?? You act like they are old clothes being donated to the Goodwill! And if you knew your father is allergic to cats then why did you get them in the first place, knowing he would want to come over and see his grandkids?? If you are considering pets, you should know BEFORE YOU GET THEM, whether you can afford them or not, sit down and do the math. Don’t bring an animal into your home and give them food, warmth and a cozy place to sleep and then 6 months down the line figure, “oh geez, can’t afford Rover, gotta take him back the shelter”!!

    And Anne…I’ve heard that comment so many times…Oh I got pregnant, so the cats had to go…that is just an excuse! A lame excuse at that! I have 4 cats and love them all dearly and when they need to go to the vet, they go, I don’t make my animals suffer. My aunt had a dog who had addison’s disease and she spent in the neighborhood of $10,000.00 on this dog. Gee JD, sounds like you would probably take the dog to a shelter or something huh? To some of us, Pets are like kids!

  169. Phil says:

    Excellent post! I think the title was too biased towards finance by use of the word “afford” but the content addressed reality. Things happen, and we can prepare for anything we can think of, but it still might not be everything. I would never want to give up my dog, but there may be some time where it is the best choice.

  170. Sara says:

    Yes, quite a lot of comments from this post. People reading too much into what you said and what other’s said. For example, you said “outdoor freedom” was needed for your dog. That doesn’t equal “roam around the neighborhood unsupervised” unless you say that is what you meant. I suspect you mean what I would choose for a dog – a large fenced in area that you can let the dog out in several times a day, about as supervised as you would children 7-12 years of age.

    I had two cats that I loved dearly. My husband, while we were dating, would spend a lot of time around my house, and then couldn’t breath through his nose because of his allergies. Cats aren’t the only thing he is allergic to, and he decided to get allergy shots to help combat his breathing problems. He was on the shots for almost 2 years. The shots reduced his reaction slightly, but not much. Before we moved to a new town, I decided to find new homes for the cats. His father and one of his brothers are even more allergic to cats than he is and had trouble when we visited them because of the cat dander than gets on everything we own. I interviewed, visited and supervised cat visits with the two people who took my cats and I feel confident that my cats have good homes. I occasionally hear from one of them.

    My husband now breaths better and his family can visit us. We both talk about how much we miss the cats. We are trying to see if some cats he is less allergic to, like bangles, so we can have them again. But at that point, we can no longer have his family visit. So it is tough decision.

  171. Rebecca says:

    I thought I was going to hate this article. I was completely wrong. What a wonderful way to handle this difficult decision. I can’t praise you highly enough for emphasising where the responsibility lies – great article. Thanks

  172. Gail Bentzinger says:

    I took my dog with me when I went to work overseas many, many years ago. I was paid only once a month and not very much. There were times at the end of the month when he ate and I didn’t. That’s how I feel. Of course, things change. My mom had to give up her dog when she moved into independent living, but my sister took the dog. Mom is well enough to care for herself, barely, but couldn’t take the dog out in the middle of the night for a pee, for instance. It was so difficult for her but my sis brings the dogs with her when she comes for a visit. Every effort should be made to keep the pet. There are pet foodbanks now and sliding financial scale vet charges. If you want to bad enough, you can do it.

  173. Goody says:

    I’d really like to know if there’s some reason in particular that my posts aren’t making it. I don’t see that I’ve written anything so negative that it can’t be posted! Trent, if you’re not going to allow my posts to go through, how about a personal e-mail telling me why.

  174. Kevin says:


    “would think the same way if it was YOU and a dog both drowning together. Would you be ok with the dog’s owner saving his pet and allowing you to drown?”

    I wouldn’t care. I’d be dead. Dead people can’t think anything. It’s a stupid question.

  175. Allie says:

    @alilz 150: There was such pain in your post that I wanted to respond. I would think that Trent’s post would have been better understood if he had said “mentally or physically incapacitated” rather than singling out bipolarity. I’ve struggled with depression all my life, and while it does make it difficult to care for your pets – it makes it difficult to do anything- I have managed. There is a certain amount of beneficial therapy in knowing that you are vitally important to a living creature and must cowboy up and take care of them regardless of your pain. It is, as my doctor says, the first step up the ladder to health.

    Having deeply loved a bipolar man, I must support your statement of not being a danger to your children or pets. I have found him unwashed, unfed, utterly unkempt – in a terrible state but his beloved cats had fresh food and water, and their litter box was pristine. He would do for them what he could not do for himself. This is the grace that is given to those of us who fight the darkness of our minds every day. I believe that his devotion to those who loved and depended on him, animal and human, has often kept him from ending his own suffering.

    Please know, Alilz, that I am a longtime reader of Trent’s blog and if he makes a comment that seems unkind, it is surely unintentional. It is hard for anyone who does not struggle with mental illness – it should more properly be called mental dysfunction – to understand what we are, and are not, capable of.

    Truly we are more of a danger to ourselves in the depths of our pain, but we have lifelines that hold us back in the form of children, pets, family and friends. Some of us have only one or two of those lifelines, and if that lifeline has four legs, it is as important to our survival as anything we have. I think this understanding may be missing from a discussion in which we explore pets as optional luxuries rather than emotional necessities.

    I wish you health and joy, and hope you continue to post here.

  176. Tina says:

    I believe a commitment is a commitment and a helpless life is a helpless life. There is no doubt in my mind we would sell everything we had if one of our pets (2 dogs, 1 cat) needed special care.

    The bottom line is some people shouldn’t have pets just like some people shouldn’t have kids.

  177. Chad says:

    My wife and I got our dog the Monday after Sept 11, 2001. She’s been an awesome dog. We made the decision going into it that she was “just a dog”. Our family decisions would not be based on her. It seriously irks me to hear people suggest that an animal is part of their family. It is good for people to have attachment to their pets; loving their pet is not good.

  178. Jen says:

    It makes me sick to see all the classified ads from people wanting to give up their pet.

    I understand that things happen, and while some cases are legit – most are just taking the easy way out.

    There are always places to rent for people with pets. It’s a little tougher, but if you can’t find one, your not looking hard enough.

    I think every pet owner needs to ask themselves the following questions

    -What if I get pregnant (or my significant other does)
    -What if I’m in financial hardship?
    -What if someone close to me develops an allergy?
    -What if my landlord doesn’t allow pets?

    If any of your answers involve giving your pet away, maybe you shouldn’t adopt one. If you are not going to be willing to try everything in your power to provide your pet with a good home then you should not adopt.

    Sure, pets are not children but does that mean you can just throw them out at the first sign of hardship?

    To the above poster who commented on how cats AND the baby were going to be too much for her… How are you ever going to survive. If you get pregnant again will you give up your first child too? Because we all know that 2 kids will be a bigger handful than a couple cats…

  179. Georgia says:

    Heidi and Marta – Where do you possibly get the idea that animals love being indoors and are not better off outside? Dogs and cats have lived and roamed outside for thougsands of years. They only became “house pets” when humans started interfering with their lives, breeding them, and generally making their lives something the owners wanted.

    As to roaming free, all our cats and dogs did when we lived on the farm. They had a free and easy existence and also lots of love from 2 adults and 2 children. We had 2 dogs hit by cars and one cat shot by neighbor boys. We had one dog euthanized due to old age and physical problems. We had one cat die at the vets being treated. We were sad, but remember, there are risks in life for all of us. There is no way we can remove all risks from our, or our pets, lives. It is literally impossible.

    Please try to be a little easier in your mind knowing you do the best you can for your own pets. But, often, the best is incapable of taking care of all their problems. Good luck.

  180. alilz says:

    I’m trying not to read Trent’s mind and understand what he wrote.

    It was a really weird statement that has no basis in anything about bipolar disorder.

    It’s frustrating to see stereotypes perpetuated over and over again. Especially when there is such a stigma to mental illness and their shouldn’t be.

    Especially when Trent just posted about making every day a masterpiece and making a positive impact on people.

    There is some good financial advice in this blog but I’m always struck by how narrow his experiences really seem to be.

    Although I’m impressed with what Trent said about religion in today’s mailbag.

  181. Gretchen says:

    I am a little late to the party here and have only skimmed some of the comments. One thing, euthanizing your pets because you have died is crazy. Senior dogs and cats adjust well to new homes every day – I have witnessed it.

    However, in response to your post, you didn’t mention that many rescue groups and breed rescues will assist you in finding a good new home for your pet. Some will ask for a donation, but many will waive it if you cannot afford it. These groups can be a great help to those who are no longer able to care for their pets. At my rescue group, we have seen a substantial increase in the number of owner-surrenders due to the economy. If we have the space and the dog is appropriate for your program, we never turn someone away because they cannot afford to give us the requested donation (which covers vet care, etc.)

  182. Frankie B. says:

    #126 reulte wrote: “Michelle (#42) – Have your in-laws visit you. Visit your in-laws but stay in a hotel. Invite them out to dinner or visit a park with you and the kids. Or let them have the kids for an all-day visit while you relax at the hotel’s spa or pool. Visiting your in-laws doesn’t mean you have to visit their cats. Don’t expect people to change their lives for you and you’re being silly by being upset because they won’t accomodate you by getting rid of their pets.”

    I agree 100 percent. When I read Michelle’s post, I couldn’t believe the enormous sense of entitlement one would have to have to say that someone else should “get rid of” their family members so you can come visit them more often. And it seemed the grandkids were mentioned almost as a carrot/stick for them not bowing down enough to her special needs and huge ego.

    Michelle, have you heard of hotels? Restaurants? Sending the grandkids to the grandparents for a week while you enjoy bubblebaths and lunches with your friends? And to whoever made the comment about Trent “making” his father be unable to see his grandkids for years because Trent had cats that he later abandoned, I’d say the same thing to you. It’s amazing these people who seem to feel that the only possible way to see a relative is to travel to their house and lodge there or have them travel to yours and lodge there. There are all kinds of other creative options … not the least of which is staying at a hotel and meeting up at a restaurant, park etc. Take some initiative. Come up with solutions that don’t involve abandoning a family member or whining that you “can’t” visit someone because they won’t abandon a family member for your luxury or because you’re too cheap to get a hotel room.

  183. Frankie B. says:

    Also, what kind of person really *wants* to visit their relatives, staying IN their home, for more than two days at a time? Seriously. If you’re anything in person like the way you come off in your post, your in-laws are probably thanking their lucky stars that they have cats who make your visits mercifully brief. (And this isn’t so much a knock on you as it is just a statement of fact about relative visits … haven’t you ever heard that saying that fish and houseguests both start to stink after two days? Guess not!)

  184. Nik says:

    As a pet owner, I APPLAUD Trent’s column. I love my dog, but if for ANY reason, I was not able to met MY basic needs AND his, I would do whatever I could to find a great home for him. For a short period I thought I would have to get rid of him – a few major emergencies that wiped out most of my emergency fund; lost my job; found a part-time job that didn’t cover my basic bills of rent, food, and transportation; and faced eviction. I was able to find the resources to get back on my feet, with Mojo by my side, but it was a near thing. If not for the generosity of some great people, I would have been facing the FACT that I could not care for him anymore.

    Things happen, LIFE happens. And sometimes the safety nets you put in place break. It’s better for there to be articles like this, that give WORKABLE solutions for REAL LIFE problems, than to flounder and fail your pet as well as yourself.

  185. Rebecca says:

    Great article! This is something my partner and I have discussed at length in regards to owning a pet.

    In the end, I think owning an animal as a pet is a luxury. This is not a statement regarding the human need for companionship. I know a lot of people get their companionship needs met through pets and I don’t want anyone to think I’m diminishing their love or affection for their pet. It’s a very real love.

    I know a lot of people who are very devoted and love their pet very much. This is not about love. Pets are expensive and that is a reality. It’s easy to say and believe certain things without truly considering the costs that go into it. Costs do not diminish love, but they are a fact.

  186. Lenora says:

    Let’s all consider giving pet food and litter to food banks, and to friends and neighbors when they are having money problems. Most of us will encounter times in our lives when we need some help. Most bad financial situations will pass.
    Compassion is the answer.

  187. MPP says:

    kids are WAY more annoying than pets

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