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What to Consider before Buying a Dog

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Before you buy a dog, you should consider two major factors: how much the dog will cost you now and over the coming years, and where you want to purchase the dog. Determining whether or not you can afford the dog will prevent you from buying a friend you will only have to give up later. And buying a dog from a humane society or rescue shelter (rather than a pet store) can save a dog’s life, save you money, and still reward you with a thankful and loving companion.


The Costs of Dog Ownership

One of the most significant costs associated with dog ownership is pet food. Many people choose to feed their pet a high-quality brand of food, which can be very pricey. However, even the average 40-pound bag of dog food runs about $35 to $40. Given that you’ll be purchasing food once or twice each month, this can be a hefty expense for many families.

Another necessary and oftentimes substantial cost is medical care for your animal. Yearly checkups and vaccinations can run upwards of $150. Personally, I’ve never walked out of the veterinarian’s office with less than a $175 invoice. As many pet owners already know, there is frequently more than just standard vet care required. Accidental care can include care for a split nail, an eye or ear infection, broken bones, or what seems to be an annual snack out of the garbage can. Regardless of how well you take care of your companion, there are always unforeseen circumstances that arise.

Other costs that seem to slip under the radar include training, boarding and kenneling, grooming, and pet accessories (collars, leashes, beds, crates, etc.). That’s even before we mention the most important items (from the perspective of your furred family member)—toys and treats! These costs might seem small and insignificant but can add up quickly if you’re not paying close attention.


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The Benefits of Dog Adoption

One of the most financially and socially responsible ways to own a pet can be to adopt from a local shelter. All shelters and animal rescues are nonprofit—their only interest is the wellbeing and proper care of the animals. There are millions of homeless animals just waiting for their forever families to love them and the upfront savings are substantial.

Some people prefer specific breeds but forget that an astonishing variety of dog breeds are placed in shelters daily. Many purebreds, popular mixed dogs such as Golden-Doodles, Puggles and Chiweenines find themselves homeless. Shelters often have puppies available also– for someone looking to develop a strong bond from a young age. Most age, size, color, and temperament preferences can be met in a shelter for a fraction of the cost of a breeder. Another benefit to adopting is that many rescues work with the adopting family by giving ongoing guidance and, in most cases, free training.

I have been a part of Pibbles and More Animal Rescue (PMAR) since 2012. Being involved with an animal rescue has opened my eyes to the importance of adopting (instead of shopping for) a pet. My first foster dog was Bushwick – he didn’t have much hope until PMAR came into his life. PMAR is just one organization that pulls animals from “death row” and works diligently to find new homes for them. Upwards of three million animals are euthanized each year because there are too few homes and sponsors available to assist no-kill shelters. While some people have reservations about receiving, “damaged goods,” I have never met more grateful or more loving companions than the foster dogs who have come from bad situations. They are eager to please and crave the approval and affection of their new owners.

Pet ownership can be a financial burden but to ease that, you could save considerably by adopting, rather than purchasing one at a pet store. The unconditional love and fulfillment received from opening up your home to an animal in need is endless.


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About Katie Maguire Bagnall

Katie Maguire Bagnall is a Member Service Consultant in VSECU's Williston Office. She has worked for VSECU since 2011. Her favorite part of her position is helping Vermonters organize their finances. She lives in Essex with her husband, her 1-year-old son Brady, and her dog Rubi.
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