Know costs before adopting a new pet

Posted August 14, 2017 2:35 p.m. EDT
Updated August 14, 2017 5:25 p.m. EDT

— Local shelters are waiving some of their adoption fees on Saturday as part of the Clear the Shelters initiative, but the costs of owning a pet can add up after you’ve brought your new furry friend home.

Pets can provide unconditional love and loyalty, but they also require more than food and water and families need to consider the cost of opening their home to an animal.

“It can cost anywhere between $200 and $800 sometimes to prepare a pet, to give them all the medical care they need before they can go up for adoption,” said Tara Lynn with the SPCA of Wake County.

Most shelters will spay and neuter the animals before they are sent home, but shots and boosters will be necessary.

“Once you bring that pet home, we want them to get lots of love and care, but they are going to need some training to make sure they can follow the rules, so they can be a good K9 or kitty citizen,” Lynn said.

Vet visits for preventative care are also required each year, and pet owners may also want to consider more expensive pet food with higher nutritional value to help their pet live longer.

“A lot of those costs depend on what type of pet that you have. When you have a senior pet, usually the vet likes to do their blood work each year and that can run maybe about $150,” Lynn said.

The ASPCA says the average, basic cost of owning a medium-size dog is $695 a year. A cat can cost about $670.

Dr. Jennifer Federico, animal services director at the Wake County Animal Shelter, warned last year that families with tight finances may not be in the right place to adopt a pet.

"If you have trouble taking care of a roof over your head and feeding yourself, taking care of your kids, right now may not be the time for a pet for you," she said.

If money, time or lifestyle make pet ownership an impossibility, there are still ways to help out animals in need.