All the costs that come with owning a pet

What you need to know before you add a furry critter to your home

More stories from Hayley Jacobson


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Though cute, animals are a lot of responsibility.

Pets: our innocent, beautiful companions. They’re fun, cute and known to reduce stress in just about everyone. 

While it may be tempting to go out and adopt, you need to be careful and do your research before jumping in. 

First and foremost, you must make sure you are ready for a pet if you’re going to adopt. It’s important to take into account the animal’s needs, which include not only food and toys, but medical procedures (puppies and kittens need to be spayed/neutered) and lots of attention, as well. You should also be prepared for accidents, which can potentially hurt your new friend. 

According to Money Under 30, it costs $1,270 the first year owning a dog. For a cat, it’s only slightly less at $1,070 the first year. After that, the annual cost of the animal is close to $500. And according to the ASPCA, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, many pet owners will spend an additional $25-$75 on toys and treats alone for their furry friends. 

These numbers do not take into account how much it costs in adoption fees, if you choose to adopt. Or, if you choose to buy an animal from a pet store, expect a hefty price tag. 

In my time walking through pet stores like Animart and PetSmart, each puppy I saw was priced between $850-$1000. To me, this seems like a lot for a living being. 

Just taking a look at the Eau Claire County Humane Society, the price of adoption for dogs is considerably cheaper and the money goes toward the animals still in the shelter. 

None of these numbers take into account the cost of having an animal in a rental house. I know in my apartment complex it is $80 a month in addition to my regular rent to have an animal. Not to mention, it is hard to get your deposit back as some landlords will keep it for a pet cleaning fee, according to Nolo, an online legal encyclopedia. 

When you are a college student, I know it’s tempting to want a furry companion who will always be there for you when you come home. Someone who will curl up with you during a movie or thunderstorm or after a really rough day. 

I have been tempted more than once by the puppy dog eyes in the ASPCA commercials to go out and adopt a dog, but I know I am in no place for a pet right now. I can barely care for myself as a college student. I know I can’t meet the needs of an animal on top of it. 

If you get a pet, you need to make sure you will be there for them as well. 

While there is a statistically significant trend relating to having a pet in college, it’s often hard to find housing that accepts them. When adopting, many college students don’t realize that. 

Trends have gotten better since 2009 when Fox News reported on how the amount of pets dropped at shelters once the school year ended. So, before you adopt that cute little puppy, or bring the kitten from the shelter home, remember, this is another living being you will have to take care of for the rest of their lives. 

It is not fair to them for you to drop them off at the shelter again once you are bored of them or if they were more work than you originally thought. 

However, to satisfy your fuzzy animal crave, the Eau Claire County Humane Society is always looking for volunteers to help walk the dogs, play with the cats and more. It’s the fun of the animals, without as much financial responsibility. 

Jacobson can be reached at [email protected]