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These Are the Sacrifices That Americans Would Make for Their Pets

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Plus: Tips for dealing with the expenses.

A new survey looks at the financial sacrifices that Americans are willing to make for their pets.

On average, American pet owners spend $1,560 per year on just their pet’s routine care, including feeding, grooming, boarding and scheduled visits to the vet, based on an average monthly cost of $130, according to a Harris Poll conducted by telephone for the American Institute of CPAs.

That’s a substantial amount when you consider that more than half of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings (according to a recent GoBankingRates survey), AICPA notes in a press release.

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“Owning a pet can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it’s also a long-term financial commitment,” said Greg Anton, chair of AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. “It is important to incorporate both routine and unpredictable pet expenses into your budget to help ensure your own financial plan will not be disrupted.”

About 54 percent of Americans have a pet in their home.

Nearly a quarter of pet owners (23 percent) said the cost of pet ownership is more than they expected. Food, toys and routine care are predictable costs, but there are additional expenses, such as emergency medical care or boarding, that can arise without warning. If an emergency expense were to present itself, 76 percent of American pet owners said they would make financial sacrifices to pay for it, according to the release. Seventy-nine percent said they would stop eating at restaurants and 67 percent would give up their vacation to pay for pet related expenses if they were in a difficult financial situation.

Sixty-one percent of pet owners said they would sacrifice their cable and TV streaming services to pay for their pet expenses. And 35 percent would even sacrifice their cell phone plan.

A little more than one-third (37 percent) said that they would sacrifice contributions to their retirement account to pay for pet-related expenses, putting their own future financial well-being at risk. And 27 percent would forgo paying their credit card bill to pay for their pet’s expenses, leading to potential penalties, interest rate hikes and a lowered credit score.

Individual pet owners said that to pay for emergency expenses they would be willing to give up “everything in the house” or their “quality of groceries” and would even “cut back on the amount of money spent on grandchildren,” the release explains. A few pet owners went all in, saying that they’re willing to “give up anything” to ensure their pet is taken care of.

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“As you consider bringing a pet into your family, understand that you’re making a substantial investment of both time and money,” Anton said. “The costs of your ‘new family member’ will go far beyond bringing them home, so it’s important to budget for the lifetime of the pet.”

To help Americans fully understand the financial commitment that comes with bringing a pet into their home, AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission offers these tips:

  • Be honest with yourself financially. If you are struggling to pay off your student loans and have credit debt piling up, does it really make financial sense to get a pet? Pets are great but they are meant to help relieve stress, not add to it due to financial difficulties.
  • Do your research. Though the cost of routine care may be predictable, it varies widely from animal to animal, and even from breed to breed, across the spectrum of family pets. Know ahead of time the probable cost of care that will come with your companion.
  • Make a budget: “pre-pet” and “post-pet.” Include all related expenses, such as food, treats, leash, crates, tank (for fish, lizards, etc.), toys, vet visits, grooming and other services such as boarding and day care. If your pet will require a habitat powered by electricity, be sure to factor in the impact it will have on your utility bills.
  • Be prepared. If you’re worried about unforeseen costs, use an emergency savings calculator to help you regularly set aside funds, or consider getting pet insurance.
  • Buy in bulk. Items such as food, treats and preventive medicine can be purchased in bulk, reducing the overall cost per unit.

For more tips and information on managing your personal finances, visit 360finlit.org.

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Dog Wanted: DOGTV Seeks Chief Puppy Officer

The winning candidate could become Instafamous.

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LOS ANGELES — DOGTV, a 24/7 digital TV channel for dogs, announced that it is looking for dog candidates to serve as the first-ever Chief Puppy Officer this year.

“We are thrilled to offer pet parents this unique chance to make their dog a pet influencer on Instagram,” said Beke Lubeach, general manager at DOGTV. “We’ve partnered with several popular social media influencers to provide the CPO’s dog parent with insight, tips, and training to help grow their pet’s Instagram account. This is our first time selecting a CPO and we look forward to working with the winner to spread the word about bringing joy to pups through DOGTV.”

The full benefits awarded for the dog selected as CPO include:

To be considered for the role of CPO, applicants must meet the following qualifications:

  • Be a pup of any age.
  • Be a fan of DOGTV.
  • Have an Instagram account (or their person needs to be willing to create one).
  • Love their human unconditionally and live to make them happy.

This contest coincides with DOGTV’s first-ever puppy takeover, called Puppies Gone Wild. During the week leading up to the Big Game on Feb. 2, puppies are taking over the channel. DOGTV is accepting applications for the CPO from now through Saturday, Feb. 1, at DOGTV.com/puppies. Applicants are encouraged to have their family and friends vote to increase their chances of being selected as the CPO. The identity of the dog selected to serve in this role will be revealed on DOGTV’s Instagram on Tuesday, Feb. 4.

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Feds Consider Cracking Down on Emotional Support Animals on Flights

Under proposed rules, only dogs could be classified as service animals.

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation is considering a set of rules under which emotional support animals would no longer be classified as service animals.

The rules are intended to “ensure that individuals with disabilities can continue using their service animals while also reducing the likelihood that passengers wishing to travel with their pets on aircraft will be able to falsely claim their pets are service animals,” according to a press release from the department.

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The Washington Post notes that the proposed rules “narrow the definition of service animal to dogs that have received individualized training to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.” A psychiatric service animal would be classified as a service animal “and require the same training and treatment of psychiatric service animals as other service animals,” according to the department.

Department of Transportation officials “noted that the proposed rule doesn’t prohibit people from flying with emotional support animals but the decision will be left to the airlines,” according to the Post.

The agency is seeking public comment on proposed amendments to its Air Carrier Access Act regulation on the transportation of service animals by air.

The department proposes to:

  • Define a service animal as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability;
  • No longer consider an emotional support animal to be a service animal;
  • Consider a psychiatric service animal to be a service animal and require the same training and treatment of psychiatric service animals as other service animals;
  • Allow airlines to require forms developed by DOT attesting to a service animal’s good behavior, certifying the service animal’s good health, and if taking a long flight attesting that the service animal has the ability to either not relieve itself, or can relieve itself in a sanitary manner;
  • Allow airlines to require passengers with a disability who are traveling with a service animal to check-in at the airport one hour prior to the travel time required for the general public to ensure sufficient time to process the service animal documentation and observe the animal;
  • Require airlines to promptly check-in passengers with service animals who are subject to an advanced check-in process;
  • Allow airlines to limit the number of service animals traveling with a single passenger with a disability to two service animals;
  • Allow airlines to require a service animal to fit within its handler’s foot space on the aircraft;
  • Continue to allow airlines to require that service animals be harnessed, leashed, tethered, or otherwise under the control of its handler;
  • Continue to allow airlines to refuse transportation to service animals that exhibit aggressive behavior and that pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others; and
  • Continue to prohibit airlines from refusing to transport a service animal solely on the basis of breed.

The department’s notice can be found here. Comments must be received within 60 days of the notice, which was issued Jan. 22.

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US Pet Food Spending Falls to $28.9B

The segment accounts for 37% of total US pet spending.

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Pet food spending in the U.S. fell by 7.3 percent in 2018 to $28.85 billion, according to the Pet Business Professor blog.

The $2.27 billion decrease stood in contrast to 2017, when food spending grew by $4.6 billion “due to a deeper market penetration of super premium foods,” the blog’s John Gibbons writes.

A small increase in pet food spending had been anticipated in 2018. The unexpected decrease “was likely due to the reaction to the FDA warning on grain free dog food,” Gibbons explained, noting: “A pattern of over 20 years was broken by 1 statement.”

Pet food spending has been choppy since 1997, with the general pattern being “2 years up then spending goes flat or turns downward for a year,” according to the blog.

Total pet spending in the U.S. climbed by 1.9 percent in 2018 to reach $78.6 billion, according to the blog. The pet food segment accounts for 37 percent of total U.S. pet spending.

 

 

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