Don’t Buy A Pet if You Can’t Afford One

by TTMK on March 7, 2013 · 6 comments

We all learn something every day, right? Well, I learned something recently when I discovered that there are food stamps available for pets.

Actually, from what I read in this article on ABC News, it’s more of a private, donation-sourced program that helps to assist low-income and food-stamp families with pet food.  Apparently, once people meet the income and need qualification measures, they can receive pet food each month for 6 months, from a specified pet food retailer.

It seems like the notion of assistance for pet owners isn’t exactly a new concept.  The article mentions this, and I also did some searching and found that financial help for pet owners is out there in different ways and to different degrees.  So while this type of sentiment toward helping pet owners has been out there, the notion of “food stamps” for pets has caught the attention of people.

What do I think of this?

Well, I’m sure many people might think this is simply great.  We Americans (and our neighbors to the north) generally like pets, and in many cases treat the animals as if they’re members of our family.  So along those lines, I do like the compassionate approach to helping out animals in this way.  Nobody wants to see pets suffer due their owners having financial difficulties.  Also, it might be a gut-wrenching decision for people to have to give up a loved pet due to money concerns.  That would be sad, particularly for elderly with pets and for kids.

Having said this, this got me thinking about pet ownership and financial problems in general.  I think that we can distinguish between situations where people already have pets, and where people want to buy pets.  The bottom line to me is that if somebody has financial problems, they don’t need to be buying expensive new pets.

Like I mentioned above, I think it’s different if people already have pets.  But if someone has financial issues yet still wants to buy a pet, isn’t that a bit silly?  A pet is a luxury, and is not a need.  If people are living paycheck to paycheck, not saving money, and not taking care of retirement savings – why in the world would they think it’s okay to subsequently add a pet?  I’m not talking about goldfish here, I’m talking about dogs and cats.

There are all kinds of expenses for pets:

  • Obtaining
  • Feeding
  • Vaccines
  • Vet care
  • Your time

If a person can’t financially take care of themselves or their family, what sense does it make to add a pet that will drain more money?

This reminds me of a guy with whom I worked years ago.  I was telling him about our newborn, and how great sleep had become much more elusive since she was born – yet how incredibly rewarding the whole experience of becoming a parent is.  The other guy, not a parent himself, proceeded to tell me how he is in the same position as me.  He said that he and his wife had a new arrival, and she was keeping them up at night as well.  This “new arrival” was a puppy, which he said is the same thing as having a new baby.  Uh, no – it’s not at all the same thing, buddy.  That pet is a million times less important than a newborn child.

I hope this mentality doesn’t get people to start asking for taxpayer assistance for pet owners.  In the article I referred to above, the aforementioned pet food stamp program director was quoted as saying “Should the government be willing to provide assistance further down the line, we will look into it”.   Let’s hope it doesn’t get to that point! I couldn’t fathom actually knowing that my hard-earned dollars are being taxed with a portion of it going to help people pay for pets they can’t afford.

Don’t get me wrong – I like pets, and have been attached in the past.  Very attached.  If one can afford pets, they can bring lots of happiness and joy to a home, and can be a pleasure to have.  But  they aren’t people, and aren’t a necessary purchase for those who are financially struggling.  If a person can’t keep his or her family’s financial house in order, why add another financial burden in the form of a 4-legged furry creature?

I’m sure some folks might disagree with me, and that my view might be unpopular with some.  That’s cool, I welcome different viewpoints! We’re all different.

My Questions for You

Do you see pets as a luxury (as I do), or needs on which it’s okay to spend money even if you’re not doing well financially?

Have you even known anyone struggling financially, yet still somehow making pets a priority over their own needs?

What do you think of the concept of government assistance for pet owners, if it ever came to fruition?

 

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Emily @ evolvingPF March 7, 2013 at 7:18 am

I agree with you – pets are not people and they are a luxury. A pet would be a big strain on our budget and time so we don’t have one. The problem with getting a pet when you can only borderline afford one is that it’s not cable, a service you can easily cut! You should be beyond confident that you can care for a pet for its lifetime before you get one.

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TTMK March 7, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Emily – I know what you mean! There are people that buy pets based on pure emotion and with no reason or financial forethought. They’re a responsibility, and one that should be fulfilled when taken on, out of fairness and kindness to the pet. People should be beyond confident that they can afford it and care for it.

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Michelle March 7, 2013 at 8:50 am

So many people don’t get that there are a lot of costs. One of my friends wants a dog, but she doesn’t understand that you need to go home and let the dogs out to use the bathroom. She thinks it’s fine to leave your dog at home for 12 hours.

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TTMK March 7, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Michelle – she probably won’t think it’s fine after she realizes the risks :)

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SavvyFinancialLatina March 7, 2013 at 10:00 am

I completely agree with you. I have some neighbors that leave their dogs alone from 7 am to 7 pm. It’s so unpleasant. The dogs bark all day and we live in apartments. Needless to say, I can’t wait to move out so I don’t have to listen to barking dogs all day. Isn’t it bad when you have to wear headphones in your home to block out sounds???

Pets are a responsibility. They are expensive. We want one but are waiting until we have a house to get one. Plus, by then i think we should be more used to our schedule.

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TTMK March 7, 2013 at 9:23 pm

SFL – Headphones? Wow, that much noise would be difficult to handle on a daily basis. Makes sense how you’re thinking ahead before you make your pet purchase.

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