Frugal Friday – Adopting Pets

Well, it’s Friday again, and around these parts, that means it’s time for another list of suggestions on how to save money while still living the good life.  This week, we’re looking at one of the biggest expenses in many people’s lives, at times a seeming black hole of expenses that can drain your wallet if you give it the opportunity: children pets.  (Don’t worry, we’ll get to children eventually.)

Yes, pets, those wonderful, frequently furry animal companions we keep around for companionship and enjoyment.  While they can provide years of companionship and enjoyment, they also do require a great deal of time, attention, supplies, and care, much of which in turn requires an expenditure of money.

You can avoid these costs by not having a pet, of course, but many of us can’t imagine life without dog(s)/cat(s)/hamster(s)/ferret(s)/anaconda(s)/etc in our lives, and would gladly suffer through a lack of money or other hardship if it enables us to have our animal buddies.  The last thing I want you to do is not to own a furry (or scaly…) friend, but there are ways to have your dog and eat more than Ramen, too.  Here is one BIG suggestion on how to make getting a pet less expensive (and help out animals to boot):

Adopt rather than buy: Probably the easiest way to save money while getting a dog or cat (and possibly other types of animals, depending on what your local shelter accepts/people bring in for adoption), simply going to the nearest animal shelter and choosing one of the animals there will enable you to have an animal companion, help out an abandoned animal, and save you the cost of purchasing a dog or cat on your own.   It’s a win for you, the shelter, and of course, your new pet.

Besides, who could resist this face?

Now, it’s not a perfect process; the shelter will obviously only have those animals that people have chosen to give up, which means likely an older population (few puppies are given up, at least before they have a chance to grow up), and possibly animals that have behavioral problems due to abuse or neglect (a sad, but unfortunately true, fact of life).  If you have your heart set on a purebred, particularly a rarer or harder to find breed, you’re also likely going to have trouble finding such a dog in the pound.  (Although, there are organizations called ‘purebred rescue groups‘ that attempt to find homes for specific breeds of dogs, so depending on your particular desire and location, you might have luck there.)

Those problems, though, shouldn’t be enough to deter you from considering adoption.  Many animals are put up for adoption merely because their previous owners didn’t realize how much work was involved in owning and caring for them (and though I’d like to have words with more than a few of those owners, that’s beyond the scope of this article), meaning that they are perfectly healthy, happy, and otherwise ready to be loved, but just had the misfortune of being adopted by someone who didn’t know what he or she was getting into with the animal.  Simply adopt, take home, and enjoy your new companion and pet to the best of your ability.  While we’re on the subject of pet adoption, here’s a more issues to consider:

Get your new pet spayed or neutered – Unless you’re planning to breed your animal, there’s really no reason for them to be able to breed.  Spaying or neutering your pet (besides being Bob Barker’s go-to cause) will help avoid increasing the stray animal population, and can help you avoid discovering that your animal is ‘in the family way’ at some point in the future.  Luckily, most shelters do this for new arrivals anyway, so you probably don’t have to do much more than double-check on the shelter policy when you adopt. If you want to be extra careful and make sure your pet stays healthy, pet insurance is the right way to go. There are many new companies that offer amazing deals, like Bivvy, which will keep your pet happy and healthy.

Avoid Puppy Mills: If you’re adopting from a shelter, this shouldn’t be an issue, but if you do decide to purchase a pet dog, do it directly from a breeder and make sure that you check on the facilities where the animals are kept to ensure that they are sanitary and the animals are kept well, happy, and healthy.  On the same note, look into puppy friendly pet stores for purchases of supplies and food for your adopted animals.

Support the Humane Society and local shelters: This article ended up being more of a pro-adoption pitch than the ‘save money on your pet expenses’ blog entry I was shooting for when I started (funny the way that works out), but while I’m on the subject, I’m sure that the Humane Society or shelter in your community could use help, either monetary or physical, and would more than appreciate anything you can do to support their mission.  If you love animals and have time (or money) to devote to charity, helping out in an animal shelter could mean a world of difference.

Don’t make them beg (until you get them home and have treats available)

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