By Simone Eames
When Alexandra Fisher adopted a kitten her sophomore year, she said her mom’s first response was “fine, but we’re not helping you pay for it.”
Fisher, a senior marketing major at the University of Georgia, adopted Loki, a 9-week-old kitten from the Athens Area Humane Society, impulsively on a random Friday night.
“When I saw his fuzzy face in the window, I knew he was coming home with me. I had $350 in my bank account and they were selling her for $150, which was doable at the time,” said. Fisher. “I decided to pay the cost upfront and assumed I’d figure out the rest of the fees as I went.”
What she failed to take into account was the annual vet fees, upkeep of food and litter supplies and the additional monthly pet charges from her apartment complex.
Jamie Wade, a staff worker at Boulevard Animal Hospital, said students need perspective on the costs associated with being a pet owner. She said a college student on a budget can make a great and responsible pet owner, although it is important to consider the various financial factors.
“Typically, with us, an annual visit for a cat is estimated around $106, while a dog’s annual visit is estimated around $200,” said Wade.
Wade explained that spaying or neutering a pet can start as low as $200, although there are many low-cost spay and neuter clinics, shelters and programs that are available to the public. One of the pricier expenses as a pet owner is flea and heart worm prevention medication, which averages at around $275 annually, depending on product brands, she said.
“The expenses were overwhelming at first, so I think it’s definitely important as a college student to do your research beforehand to make sure you can meet your pets’ needs—the last thing you’d want is to rehome an animal because you didn’t realize the financial factors,” Fisher said. “After a couple of months, I got in the hang of budgeting the extra costs…it’s not really a stress factor anymore.”
For college students looking to adopt, local shelters sell their animals for cheaper than most breeders, and they also offer deals to help people alleviate the initial financial burdens of owning a pet, said Cindy Jerrell, the guest services coordinator at the Athens Area Humane Society.
She said dogs and cats can be adopted from the shelter for between $100 to $250.
“All pets up for adoption here are spayed or neutered, up to date on all of their vaccines, dewormed and microchipped. They also come with a free vet visit and a bunch of PetSmart coupons to help with supplies,” said Jerrell.
The Humane Society also offers a low-cost vaccination center that gives basic vaccinations for as low as $12 a piece.
With resources such as local shelters and vets that are more than willing to help diminish costs, Jerrell said owning a pet can be manageable as long as the owner is prepared to devote the time and resources into their furry friend.
“At the end of the day, having my cat in my life is 100% worth the expenses and I have no regrets. If anything, his companionship cuts down on my therapy costs,” said Fisher.
Simone Eames is a journalism student at the University of Georgia.