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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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78 Animals Rescued From Fire at Pet Resort

Some pets were treated for smoke inhalation.

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Firefighters rescued 78 animals from a fire at Pet Paradise, a pet resort in Charlottesville, Va., on Sunday.

Dogs and cats were taken to local veterinary clinics in the area to be treated for smoke inhalation, CBS 19 News reported. (Watch a CBS 19 News video about the fire below.)

The Daily Progress reported that about 10 animals were in critical condition. Some animals were being taken to the Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital, and some were going to shelters and foster homes.

In a message on its website Monday morning, Pet Paradise Charlottesville stated:

Our management team continues to be focused on ensuring the safety of all the pets at Pet Paradise Charlottesville after this emergency. As of this morning, we have contacted all the owners and notified them of their pets locations. The pets previously reported in critical condition are now in stable condition and being cared for by local veterinary hospitals. We currently have 2 cats and 1 dog that escaped during the emergency last night. Our team members spent the night searching for these pets and our number one priority is locating them and safely returning them to our owners. Our efforts today will be focused on locating these pets.

Firefighters were called to the blaze at about 6:25 p.m. and had extinguished it by 8 p.m. One firefighter was taken to the hospital after suffering heat-related injuries, according to CBS 19.

It’s still unknown what caused the fire.

Watch a news video about the fire:

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$20M Pet Nutrition Facility to Focus on Needs of Small Dogs

It will be home to 80 small dogs under 12 pounds.

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TOPEKA, KS — Hill’s Pet Nutrition held a groundbreaking ceremony for a $20 million, 25,000-square-foot nutrition facility focused on the needs of small dogs, along with a center developed for veterinarian and other pet caregiver engagement.

“Hill’s is excited to announce the expansion of our world-renowned pet nutrition center to focus on the special needs of small dogs and also to enhance our involvement with those who care for pets through the new engagement center,” said Hill’s President Jesper Nordengaard. “We are always investing in research and development to serve the nutritional needs of pets as well as learning from veterinarians, customers and caregivers through their experiences.”

The new Small Paws center will be home to 80 small dogs under 12 pounds who will benefit from nutrition developed to their unique needs. The center will be devoted to exceptional veterinary care and offer indoor and outdoor enrichment activities that the dogs can choose during the day, including an outdoor Bark Park. The engagement center will have dedicated space to host educational seminars and continuing education programs for veterinary students and professionals.

“All around the world, there’s a steady increase in the popularity of small dogs. Our investment in this specialized facility will help us develop food with the taste and aesthetics that small dogs prefer and that works best with their distinctive behaviors and unique physiology,” said Dave Baloga, vice president, science and technology, for Hill’s. “The Small Paws center will allow us to better understand their needs and discover new ways to help them lead happy, healthy lives.”

Today, more than half of dogs in the U.S. are small and miniature, and the percentage is growing, notes Hill’s, which is part of Colgate-Palmolive Co. These small dogs have distinct needs compared to their larger cousins. For example, small stomachs mean they graze throughout the day, rather than eat one or two big meals like larger dogs. And because of their higher mass-specific metabolism, pound for pound, small dogs eat more than big dogs.

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State Makes It a Crime to Have a Fake Service Animal

Violators face fines and community service.

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Alabama is instituting criminal penalties for anyone who misrepresents a pet as a service animal.

The legislation takes effect Sept. 1. It makes such representation a Class C misdemeanor that leads to a $100 fine and 100 hours of community service, Al.com reports.

Under Alabama law, only dogs and miniature horses can qualify as service animals. They have to be trained specifically to help people with disabilities — emotional support animals do not count.

The law allows for signs to be posted in public places with this wording: “Service animals are welcome. It is illegal for a person to misrepresent an animal in that person’s possession as a service animal.”

According to Al.com, Alabama is one of 25 states with laws related to misrepresentation of service animals.

Read more at Al.com

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