Staff and volunteers at the Frederick County Division of Animal Control and Pet Adoption Center witness firsthand how many pet owners would do anything for the pets in their lives. It is not unusual for pet owners to skimp on items for themselves in order to purchase better quality items for their pets that may be as basic as food or as extravagant as a pet stroller. The reality is, however, that regardless of income or financial abilities, the cost of care of owning a pet is an important consideration.
Scootie was adopted from the shelter over seven years ago. She has lived with other cats and is described by her previous owners as a lap cat. Unfortunately for Scootie, she developed a series of urinary tract issues that caused her owners to return her to the shelter.
During our adoption process, we have a checklist of items that we review with potential adopters. Important information ranging from “Which vet will you use?” to “How will you introduce the new pet to your existing pets?” to reviewing known medical history is all included. Additionally, we discuss the cost of pet ownership. In our estimate, it costs approximately $1,000 per year for feline care and approximately twice as much per year for canine care. We define care as including the following: food, bedding, treats, enrichment and routine vet care.
Routine vet care (exams, vaccines) is approximately half of the annual expected expenses; as pets get older or develop medical issues those expenses may increase. Fortunately, there are programs in place to assist with those expenses. Project Hope is a program of Frederick Friends of Our County Animal Shelter in conjunction with Frederick County Animal Control. Project Hope lists several organizations on their website that can help pet owners financially if it means keeping one pet with the family that loves them.
In short, pets cost money; sometimes lots of it, which is relative to each situation. We do our best to educate people on responsible pet ownership and resources available. Pet ownership often involves unexpected circumstances and sometimes unanticipated expenses. Scootie requires a special diet of food to prevent urinary crystals and a routine recheck urinalysis to ensure her health is maintained.
We ask prospective pet parents — regardless of where you acquire your pet — to include an honest look at financial ability and an understanding that pets are a lifetime commitment.