Animal shelters are bursting at the seams with pets who have lost their homes due to the current recession. Whether it was an unexpected vet bill, routine expenses, or a non pet-related expense that was the last straw, dogs, cats, and other pets are losing their homes in throngs because their owners simply can’t afford to keep them. Not all owners relinquishing pets are bad or irresponsible people– many of them were excellent pet owners until suddenly their financial circumstances changed.
There’s no way to be absolutely sure that unforeseen circumstances won’t force the relinquishment of a pet, but you can take simple steps now to make sure you’ll have the best possible chance of providing a lifetime home for your pets. Save and plan now, and you won’t be taken by surprise later if your financial situation worsens or your pet has unexpected expenses.
Pet Health Insurance
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to avoid giving up a pet for financial reasons is purchase pet insurance for each of your pets. There are many reputable companies selling pet insurance policies. There are also quite a few companies that have earned a poor reputation in the industry. I won’t endorse any particular insurer because I have been fortunate enough never to have to file a claim with my pets’ insurance (knock on wood!) but I strongly encourage seeking out reviews of the insurer from whom you’re considering purchasing a policy.
You’ll likely get discounts for spaying/neutering your pets, microchipping them, and for enrolling multiple pets. If your pet is a service dog, police dog, or therapy dog, you may also be eligible for additional discounts on insurance policies.
Choose a policy that provides substantial coverage in the event of emergencies, illness, or accidents. Don’t pay a high premium just for a policy that also covers routine care like vaccinations– read on to find out how you can save more by simply planning ahead for those known future expenses. Pet health insurance is a good idea because it can cover expenses you would not be able to pay out of pocket even by saving ahead of time, but policies that include routine care often cost more than simply paying for the care itself.
Save for Future Expenses
Can you give up one Starbucks latte a week? Pack your lunch for one day instead of eating fast food or going out with coworkers? Sacrifice one new clothing item per month? If you can identify a luxury expense, cut back, and put that money instead into a separate savings account for pets’ expenses, you’ll soon build up a cushion that will protect you in case your income decreases and pet food, vaccinations, and other routine expenses become difficult to afford.
Even if you save just an extra $1.00 per day, you’ll likely put away enough in a year’s time to pay for pet food for several months, depending on how many pets you have and how much they eat.
If you’re weathering the recession easily so far, it’s a good idea to deposit a lump sum to jump start your pets’ separate savings account. If possible, save enough to cover your pets’ expenses for at least six months. Avoid tapping this savings account for other reasons except in the event of a dire emergency. If you know you’ll be tempted, consider starting the new account at a bank that’s difficult for you to access, and don’t associate a debit card or checkbook with the account, so you have to go to the effort of driving to an out of the way bank and making a withdrawal in order to use the money.