How to Keep Your Pet During Difficult Economic Times

On some level we have all felt the crunch of tough economic times. Some have lost a good chunk of their retirement, while others have lost jobs or maybe facing foreclosure. At the least, many of us have less disposable income as we weather the storm of this recession.

From the easing of the covid lockdowns through the current inflationary period, a record number of well-cared for pets have been surrendered to shelters.  The Humane Society of Baltimore County (a no-kill shelter) has reported new surrenders that are healthy with current vet records, well groomed and trained. Shelters such as the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care, Carroll and Frederick County Shelters have reported significant increases as their shelters are facing the possibility of overcrowding. This is difficult to process since most of our readers consider their pets as members of the family who give us unconditional love!

For those people who contemplate how to handle their finances, take heed. There are cost-cutting measures you can take to avoid possibility of an unpleasant pet-owner separation.   First and foremost, shop around. Start here with the MPG Online Pet Directory.

Your number one expense is usually food. Unless your pet requires a special diet, you should compare prices on brands and product lines for foods available. Make sure that the food has ingredients that are acceptable to you and finalize your choices with your veterinarian. Try to budget your pet’s food requirements on a regular basis (i.e. monthly), if possible, buy the largest quantity you can afford as long as the larger bags are cheaper by the pound. Be sure to check the expiration date.

Do the same when buying treats and toys. If there is only one small size for a particular item, ask the retailer (owner or store manager where possible) if they would provide you a discount for a certain quantity purchased. Quantity discounts are also good for retailers to move more product off their shelves. The cheap $3 toys are many times the pet’s favorite!  For any intended purchase, look for sales, closeouts and coupons to keep costs down. Some retailers also offer senior, military or first responder discounts.  Also to avoid the high cost of shipping today, your best solution may be found at a local pet retail store (unless the online source offers free shipping that is not reflected in their pricing).

If you do not already have a veterinarian, groomer, dog day care, pet sitter or other service provider for your pet, call the businesses in our directory for the service you need. Some organizations such as the Humane Society of Harford Co. offer low cost Spay/Neuter clinic while others like Anne Arundel Animal Control offer a Rabies and Microchip Clinics. When comparing services and price, once again ask, for packages or quantity discounts. There may be discounts for time of year, frequency, for services such as the amount of days to be boarded at the kennel or multiple pet discounts.

Finally, if you are facing foreclosure and/or have to move, please take your pets with you. Ask your relatives to help you to share expenses or take in your pet for a limited time while you are looking for a new place to live. Do whatever it takes to keep your pet because (s) he depends on you. As your trusted friend, if the situation were reversed, your pet would keep you. Bare in mind that some shelters euthanize pets and that would be a difficult decision to live with. History has shown that recessions are only temporary and you can weather the storm for the better days to come.   For further counseling to cut pet care costs, contact the Maryland SPCA at 410-235-8826.

Rob Parr