Business & Technology

Business & Technology
business of buying pets

The Basics of Becoming a Pet Owner

Article Highlights

  • It’s better to adopt a pet from an animal shelter than to buy one from a pet store.
  • Pets are a major lifestyle commitment, so it’s important to make sure you’re ready before making the decision to bring one home.

Rate This Article

Related Topics

View PDF Print Article

The pet industry is big business, and can cost owners a lot of money. Getting the right kind of pet from the right place can make all the difference between a pet that’s cute and cuddly, and one that is costly.

Linell Strandine, a Business instructor at South University, Columbia, says she has gotten her last couple of dogs from an animal rescue organization in her hometown.

She feels comfortable adopting dogs from this animal shelter, because it’s professionally run, and it’s obvious that the animals have been well cared for. She also enjoys the great feeling that comes with adopting a rescue dog.

She says she has also adopted dogs from individuals in the past, but has never bought one from a pet store.

When choosing a pet, Strandine says the three most important elements in determining the costs to care for it are the size of the animal, the area you live in, and the degree of pampering you bestow upon it.

“If you have moderate funds, maybe get a smaller pet,” Strandine says.

As the owner of a 30-pound dog, Strandine incurs a number of monthly expenses which include basic items like food, and but also other costs that potential pet owners might not think about like grooming, city licenses, spaying or neutering, kennel costs if you go on vacation, teeth cleaning, various medications, shots, etc.

When you adopt an animal you are literally saving a life.

Strandine says pet health insurance would probably be a good investment, as costs to care for animals have gotten so high.

The Cost of Pet Supplies

Strandine says people are absolutely spending more money on pampering their pets than ever.

“My first German shepherd had a ball and Frisbee and we played with him and loved him,” Strandine says.

Now that times have changed, she says her current dog has two baskets full of toys that he happily plays with.

She says some of it is that circumstances are different than they once were, and there’s a change in the pet supplies needed.

For example, kennels were once the only alternative to board a pet when the owner went on vacation, but now puppy care hotels exist, offering a plush environment for furry friends to stay in.

Strandine says kennel costs are typically about $20 per day, while puppy hotels average $50 per day, clearly a drastic difference in cost.

A fairly newer trend Strandine has seen is that dog walkers will even come to a pet owner’s home while they’re away and walk their four-legged friend at regular intervals, so the pooch doesn’t have to go through the transition of adjusting to a kennel or a puppy hotel.

She also mentions businesses like dog bakeries that make special treats for dogs only, when owners feel like a Milkbone isn’t enough for their precious pooch.

“There’s no question that pampering our pets has become a big business,” Strandine says.

Strandine advises potential pet owners not to buy a pet on a lark without thinking about the lifetime commitment you’re making.

“They get attached to you and you get attached to them,” she says.”

Adopting a Pet from an Animal Shelter

Guinn Friedman, director of operations, Humane Society for Greater Savannah, says her animal shelter accepts pets surrendered directly by their owners.

“In order to come into our facility we require proof of ownership,” Friedman says.

Friedman says people give their animals up for a wide-variety of reasons. Common ones include not having the ability to care for health problems the pet has, behavioral issues, experiencing a foreclosure on their home and not being able to keep them in an apartment, downsizing to a smaller home, and military families being deported to a place where they can’t take their pet.

Although many people only think of cats and dogs as the only pets in animal shelters, Friedman says they also get many other types including ferrets, rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs.

Whether a person is looking for a dog or a ferret, Friedman says people often pay a couple of hundred dollars for an animal from a pet store that may or may not have had proper vaccines.

She says pets adopted from the Humane Society for Greater Savannah are fully vaccinated, have been checked by a veterinarian, and all dogs and cats have a microchip with registration on the national database.

Given variable pricing, shelter animals are usually $10-$150, Friedman says.

“It pays for medical care we’ve given the animal,” Friedman says.

Friedman says when you purchase an animal from a pet store, you simply choose one off the shelf, pay for it, and take it home, without getting any background information on the pet.

She says animal shelters make it easier for people to choose the right pet for them, by providing them with counseling, where the counselors help you learn how to care for a pet if you’ve never owned one before and also teach you how to work with your pet on an individual basis.

She says people who adopt a pet are able to call the shelter before and after the adoption, for as long as they need, with any questions they might have.

Benefits of Pet Adoption

Friedman says most humane societies have to euthanize animals for space reasons.

“When you adopt an animal you are literally saving a life,” she says.

When you purchase a dog from a pet store you are directly supporting puppy mills and funding their operations, so if people adopt animals instead, puppy mills won’t be able to operate, Friedman says.

“Pet stores get their pets from puppy mills,” Friedman says. “Puppy mills make money on animals they breed, are kept in deplorable conditions, and usually have health problems.”

Pet store puppies may appear like purebreds, Friedman says but in reality often are not.

She says pet stores will tell people that dogs are American Kennel Club (AKC) registered to try to sell the animal, but that does not usually mean they are a purebred.

The Huffington Post article “ASPCA Pummels Puppy Mills with Pressure from Consumers, Politicians,” states that being AKC registered simply means that both of the puppy’s parents had AKC papers.

The article says that many AKC-registered dogs come from puppy mills.

Author: Laura Jerpi

© South University