Many people dream of welcoming a four-legged companion into their home. Unfortunately, many also underestimate the obligation of pet ownership. The Chicago Animal Care and Control shelter takes in 7,000 animals yearly from owners who have given up their pets, adding to the 12,000 lost or unowned stray animals who arrive at the shelter for temporary housing and care. As the numbers have become quite alarming, the city is urging pet owners to act with more accountability.
Right now, you might feel that you’re more than ready to have a pet of your own. You’ve already prepared a list of ways to care for your pet and using our ‘Top Dog Friendly Apartment Buildings in Chicago’ post, you might have even found a great apartment in Chicago that allows you to live with your furry friends – but are you financially prepared for this long-term responsibility?
Here are some questions you should think about before getting a pet:
Have you considered the initial costs of pet ownership?
Depending on whether you are adopting a pet or buying them from a breeder, there can be a huge cost difference. Additionally, the City of Chicago requires registration for dogs over four months old, as well as licensing for sterilized and unsterilized dogs which can cost you anywhere from $5 to $150.
Chicago also limits how many pets you can have in your home: up to one dog or two indoor cats per apartment, and two dogs and four indoor cats per family home — so you’ll need to consider these if you’re thinking about getting more pets. Along with the initial spend on beds, toys, collars, ID tags, and the like, you might need to factor in your living conditions as part of these introductory costs, so having ample disposable income is essential before taking a pet home.
Is there room in your current budget for a pet?
There are many recurring costs pet owners need to consider: food, routine vet visits, medications, and treats, to name a few. The Chicago Tribune estimated the price of owning a dog, with food ranging from $200 to $4800 yearly and grooming costing between $30 to $90 per visit. Aside from knowing the general pet expenses, you should plan for further costs like dog training and vacation pet sitting. These factors are largely determined by the pet size and their behavior, and you need to consider what type of pet would best suit your lifestyle and budget.
Having a personal budget helps ensure you have enough money for all your pet’s basic needs, as well as other savings or investments. A budgeting write-up on AskMoney highlights how it’s important to have a clear picture of your finances before making a big decision, such as getting a pet. Compared to the average expenditure of a person living in the United States, living costs in Chicago can be a bit steep. If you have a debt to clear or an emergency fund to save up for, you may need to evaluate your savings to see if you have the cash to spare for a pet — and if not, budgeting will help you meet financial goals so you can eventually become a pet parent.
Are you prepared to pay for emergency vet services?
Part of pet ownership is ensuring your pet stays healthy throughout its life. However, people fail to anticipate how expensive vet bills — particularly unexpected ones — can be. When your pet gets sick, vet bills can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
To prevent yourself from getting caught off guard, be sure to accommodate regular vet visits in your schedule. There are also several options for low-cost pet medical services at Chicago shelters, such as the Anderson Animal Shelter or Spay Illinois. Spending on a pet insurance plan can also safeguard your wallet from pricey medical treatments. By anticipating these additional charges, you will have better control over your budget and be able to provide your pet with the appropriate care.
Pets are wonderful companions to have, and the joy they bring makes the expense worth it. However, you should definitely assess your financial capabilities first before committing to having a pet so you can give them the life that they deserve.
Written for Aaliyah Silas for apartmentsource.com