By Henry Fletcher

Paying for a pet while in college seems to be a financial burden that students can ill afford, but Madeline Parry has spent the past year owning a dog and has found that the costs are not as frightening as they may seem.

“If you have a part time job you can afford to have a pet,” said Parry. “I think it’s definitely doable for an average college student.”

Pet ownership for college students can be difficult when accounting for all expenses paid, but taking the right course of action can alleviate the stress on whether or not taking care of an animal is possible.

Parry owns an adopted one year old American Staffordshire-Beagle mix named Sia. Because Sia was adopted, multiple initial costs of owning a dog were alleviated.

“I adopted Sia for $300 and she was already spayed, had a bunch of different vaccinations and was micro chipped,” said Parry. “We had a family dog growing up and just to get her spayed was $500.”

Adopting rather than buying from a pet store or breeder gives new owners a financial advantage from the start. According to Parry, who grew up with a dog bought from a breeder, first time vaccines and spaying/neutering can cost owners around $800.

Vaccines are an annual expense of owning an animal which can pose financial difficulties. Deanna Izzo, a representative for the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, has found that the annual expenses of owning a pet is where costs become an issue for owners.

“On a day-to-day basis, college students can afford to own a pet,” said Izzo. “Annual visits to the vet for vaccines and allergies are where it gets difficult.”

Annual visits to the vet for check up and vaccines will cost owners about $150. For puppies, there are four visits to the vet in their early months called “puppy visits” that can cost owners about $600.

The day-to-day costs of owning a pet include food, toys and, if necessary, medication.

“A twenty pound bag of food that will last for three weeks is about $25,” said Izzo. “Toys are cheap and can range from $5-$15.”

Parry said the kind of toys Sia likes are more expensive, but they last longer than the cheaper toys.

“There are some $30 elk bones that she likes but they last really long,” said Parry. “I also buy femur bones that last long that are $5.”

As a puppy, Sia had tapeworms which only cost Parry $18 for a prescription.

The risk that comes with pet ownership is the possibility of a medical emergency that could cost owners a great deal of money out of pocket. Pet insurance is an option for a cost of $30-$50 for good coverage, but Parry decided not to get a plan.

“I was given the option for pet insurance, but I ultimately decided against it because I did not think it’s worth it,” said Parry. “There is only a small chance that a major health problem happens.”

New pet owners can expect to spend several hundred dollars to adopt their pet, get supplies and vaccines, but Parry said the expense is worth the reward.

“The joy of owning a dog outweighs the financial burden for sure,” she said. “Getting Sia was the best decision of my life.”

Henry Fletcher is a journalism student at the University of Georgia. The reporting for this article was completed before the campus closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.