Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator & Purdue Alumna
I have always had pets in my life. And I didn’t realize how much having a pet in the house meant to me until I moved out and didn’t have a pet of my own. Two weeks into living away from my parents and all of their pets (none of them could be separated to come with me) I started craving a furry companion. I started thinking I wanted a dog, but then after considering (some) of the financial costs, I opted for a cat. Now, my cat turned to be an expensive little guy because of unexpected health issues (just my luck!) and I’ll be honest, I wasn’t financially savvy when picking out a pet. But, I’m going to share with you expenses you should take into consideration before impulsively getting a pet that will hopefully help you make the wisest financial choice.
Initial Start-up Costs
Chances are you don’t have a spare kennel, litter box, litter, food, food bowls, toys, nail clippers, etc. just lying around. But, good for you if you do! Depending on what type of pet you get and what its living conditions will be (can it just roam freely or does it need to be kenneled/in a cage because it’s a rat or amphibian), your immediate expenses will vary drastically. Also, some apartment complexes and landlords have you put down an extra pet deposit (typically anywhere from $150-$300) and add additional charges to your rent each month per pet in your house. And you do have to report any pets you have since not doing so would be a violation of your lease and could potentially get you evicted.
Getting Your Pet
If you decide to a purebred Pomeranian, you’re going to be spending a LOT of money. It may be your dream doggie, but is that really how you should be spending your money during college? There are a few local shelters in our area and they have adorable, adoptable dogs. Other shelters have both cats and dogs that are available for adoption. There are many benefits to adopting a pet rather than buying a pet, but for the sake of this article we are going to talk about expense. Adopting a dog from Natalie’s Second Chance costs $125 for adult dogs and $150 for puppies, this fee includes spaying/neutering, up-to-date vaccines (except rabies), and a microchip. Getting all of these things done on your own (like I did) can cost upwards of $200 and that’s not even including an adoption fee! Almost Home Humane Society did not have prices for their adoptions listed on their website, but they also have an “adoption package” that provides things like spaying/neutering and up-to-date vaccines.
Kittens and puppies are baby animals; and like baby humans they require vaccines. All pets need to be vaccinated young and then have yearly booster shots, this is essential to them staying healthy. Sometimes pets get sick, and unfortunately that comes with expenses as well. Emergency trips to the vet aren’t cheap, and you should remember that when deciding if you’re really going to be able to care for that adorable kitten at Pet Smart. And don’t forget treating them for fleas! It may seem expensive to buy their flea treatment every month, but flea prevention is much less expensive than flea extermination.
No matter what type of pet you choose, taking care of that pet will require a lot of time and patience. Dogs need to be walked, potty trained, bathed, taken to the vet, crate trained, fed, and played with. Cats need trips to the vet, cleaned, litter boxes cleaned, and lots of attention. You can’t simply get an animal and expect it to take care of itself. And in college, do you really have the time you need to take care of a pet? To cover the expenses of a pet, you may need to pick up additional hours at work, but then when will you walk Fido? Getting a pet means you will have to work your schedule to include both your needs and theirs, while also having the funds to take care of both. Maybe you have a roommate or significant other who would be willing to lend a hand in more stressful or urgent situations; but, the pet will become your responsibility, so you should make sure you have the proper time to care for it. (And if you’re going in with a friend or significant other for the pet, make sure you understand what’s expected from each of you before you bring your new friend home.)
These are just a few tips to get you thinking about your choice in getting a pet. Having a pet is great and it teaches responsibility… But, it also costs money and you have to think about if you’ll be able to afford giving this pet the home it really deserves. If you’ve decided you really can’t afford a pet while you’re in college, one thing you can do is volunteer at either of the shelters listed above. This is a really good way to get the furry friend experience and you’ll be giving back to the community. Be sure and visit their websites for more information!