Pet Care in a Down Economy: Why the Adoption Option's the Most Frugal

We just talked about why you should never buy a pet at a pet store, but why should you adopt instead? Well, setting aside that you’ll save a life and give a wonderful animal a second chance, thriftiness also comes into play when you choose the adoption option. There are many reasons adoption is the best financial choice. Here are a few.

Initial Cost

The initial cost of dogs and cats purchased at pet stores can range from $200 to several thousand dollars. By contrast, adoption fees may range from $35 to around $350, with most falling in the middle of that range at around $80 for cats and $150 for dogs. High-kill shelters may have lower fees than no-kill rescues. Rescues that use a foster network and specialize in a particular breed or breeds generally have the highest adoption fees.

What’s Included

Most pet stores sell unaltered puppies and kittens. They may have a first round of shots, but most often need at least two more sets of vaccinations before adulthood. In addition, unless your state has a puppy lemon law, in most cases pet stores are not responsible for costs incurred if your new puppy or kitten falls ill– even if the store knowingly sold a sick animal.

Shelters generally include the cost of spaying and neutering, as well as any vaccinations for which the puppy or kitten is eligible at the time of adoption, in their fees. Some shelters don’t alter pets before adopting them out, but there usually provide a voucher for spaying or neutering from a particular veterinarian, and require that adopters provide proof that the surgery has been performed within a reasonable period of time. Most shelters will not knowingly release a sick pet for adoption, and illnesses like Parvo are less common in shelters than pet stores, because shelters vaccinate pets promptly. If a pet is found to be ill, most shelters will accept its return and provide medical treatment.

Post-Adoption Support

When you buy a pet from a pet store, you’ve purchased a product and are on your way. The store hopes to retain your business by selling supplies, but is unlikely to provide any further support.

Shelters, on the other hand, may provide a wide range of supports and services. One shelter near me offers free behavior consultations if an adopter encounters behavioral problems with their new pet. Two local shelters have low-cost or free professional training available for recently adopted pets. Several shelters and rescues nearby have made deals with local trainers, groomers, behaviorists, and veterinarians, who will provide services at a discount to new adoptive pawrents.

Pet stores often also give discounts or coupons to adopters who show proof that they’ve recently adopted a pet. Both Petco and Petsmart offer such programs.

Overall, adoption is the wisest choice both ethically and financially. Frugal families will be glad to know that, in this case, the best choice is clear: Adopt a pet, and you’ll save hundred or even thousands of dollars versus purchasing a purebred puppy or kitten.

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