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MintLife Blog > Financial IQ > The Lifetime Costs of Pets

The Lifetime Costs of Pets

Financial IQ

This year, Mint users will make 5 million pet-related purchases, totaling more than $216 million dollars. That’s an average of $42.96 per transaction!

Like any parent, pet owners can be impulse buyers. Unless you own a cheap, low-maintenance pet, a quick trip to the pet store for dog food can evolve into picking up treats, toys, and accessories for your furry friend. But when it comes to your spoiling your “kids,” money is no object, right? Not so fast.

“It takes a lot more than love, treats, and toys to give your pet a happy life,” says Beth Ward, Chief Operating Officer at Humane Society Silicon Valley. “If you really love your pets or you’re thinking of adopting one, then you need to be aware of the hard costs involved.”

She continues, “Many cats and dogs can live for twenty years or more. Keeping them alive, happy, and healthy for the duration of their life requires a sustained commitment. It takes good financial planning.”

Beth, a 25-year veteran of the animal welfare industry, knows what she is talking about. “All too often, owners come to us in tears – forced to surrender their family pets because they can no longer afford to care for them. It’s absolutely heartbreaking – for the family and for the animals,” she says.

“At Humane Society Silicon Valley, our goal is to make sure that all of these healthy, loving, well-behaved animals find new homes. We work hard to educate people about the responsibilities associated with becoming a pet owner. As a head start, all of our animals are spayed or neutered, microchipped, and immunized. All those services are included in our modest adoption fees. It’s a great deal for pets and their owners.”

Beth recalls one particularly painful experience that led to the creation of Pet Pantry, a program to help pets stay in their homes. “A young family came in to surrender their dog and cat. The wife had been laid off almost a year before, and was having a hard time finding a new job. The husband had recently also been laid off, and foreseeing a more difficult time ahead, they made the decision they could not continue to care for their pets.”

She continues, “Although they had discussed it as a family, their 7-year old daughter clung to the cat in the lobby, pleading to keep her pet. She begged to do ANYTHING to keep the cat. Her parents patiently explained the situation to her, and as they pulled the cats from her arms, we just could not take it anymore and said, ‘Stop! If we provide you food and litter, vaccines and flea control for the cat, do you think she can keep the cat?’ The rest is basically history.”

“We didn’t realize it at the time, but that was the origin of our Pet Pantry program. A very happy 7-year old walked out with her pet that day. The family came back to us over the next year, but once the father found a job, they didn’t need our help anymore,” she says.

If only every story was that successful. In the past 12 months, 946 animals have been surrendered to the Human Society Silicon Valley, and in 199 of those cases (21%), the animal was given up for financial reasons.

In partnership with Quicken and Humane Society Silicon Valley, the following infographic has been created to capture the lifetime costs of owning pets. We kindly ask that you share it with current and prospective pet owners. Let’s make this world a better place for man’s best friend and his animal pals!

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