Pets are for life, not just for ‘right now’

The commitment of pet ownership

As many Australians now find themselves working from home or in self-isolation, they look to bring a furry friend into their homes for companionship. As these bleak times threaten to continue for months (or even longer) many of us are considering the idea of adopting a new pet into the family.

Why this could be a bad idea…
Across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen increased levels of anxiety and stress, and in these uncertain times, some of us may look to a furry friend for comfort or to simply combat boredom. Pets are known for their amazing mental health benefits and can help us feel better during these challenging times click here to read more about how pets can improve your mental health.

In the short term, having a pet by your side during this crisis may be a great idea and for those who find themselves with some ‘extra spare time’, this might be the perfect moment to welcome a new pet to the household. The extra time means you may have more time to bond with your new pet, teach them new tricks and adjust to the changes a new pet will provide.

But what happens once this crisis is over? Will you be able to commit to your new pet for the rest of its life?

On average, pets (such as dogs as cats) will live for around 15 years. This is why pet ownership is a long-term commitment that shouldn’t be made on a whim or during a temporary situation. If you are considering a new pet, be sure to do your research on whether this is the best thing for you and your family when your standard way of life resumes later on.

The financial commitment of pet ownership
Before bringing a new pet home, it’s a good idea to ‘paws’ for a moment to consider the financial responsibilities that come with being a pet owner. Pet ownership can lead to all sorts of planned and unplanned expenses that could make a mess of your household budget, and for some of those with potential income loss during these hard times, this could be the hard reality that now might not be the best time to add an extra family member.

Upfront costs such as adoption fees, are usually the initial outlay that we may be prepared for, however ongoing costs of pet ownership can be significant and need to be taken into consideration before taking the plunge and choosing a pet. These costs may include:

  • Annual check-ups at the vet and routine vaccinations
  • Grooming costs
  • Parasite protection (fleas, ticks, worming treatment, etc.)
  • Microchipping and council registration
  • Desexing costs (if not included in your adoption fee)
  • Food – can be a considerable cost depending on the size of your pet
  • Litter for cats
  • Bedding and/or kennel

If that isn’t enough, you also must commit to keeping your new furry friend entertained. Puppies and kittens aren’t going to entertain themselves, so you’ll need to supply them with chew toys, scratching posts, playpens, collars, food bowls, etc.

Sometimes the unexpected happens and your pet may get injured or sick, and as your pet gets older, their veterinary costs may also increase. AWL NSW recommends all pet owners consider pet insurance to help in the case of an emergency. While your pet’s insurance premium may be an additional monthly cost, it does provide peace of mind in case of an unexpected veterinary bill. Read more about the benefits of pet insurance here.

But it’s not all doom and gloom…
If your family is not in a financial position to commit to the long-term needs of a new pet, but would still like to welcome a furry friend, why not consider becoming a foster carer?

The AWL NSW foster care program provides temporary homes for pets who need extra care such as those who are too young to be adopted, recovering from illness or surgery, are undergoing rehabilitation or finding the shelter environment too stressful. By placing pets into loving foster homes, it provides them with the support and skills they need until they are ready to be adopted into forever homes. For all animals in our foster care program, AWL NSW provides food, litter, flea and parasite prevention and all vet bills are paid by us (with prior approval).

Why become a foster carer?
Foster caring with AWL NSW is a truly rewarding experience and with so many cats and dogs out there, becoming a foster carer is one of the best things you can do to help vulnerable pets.

  • Fostering can help your family decide if you are ready for the commitment of pet ownership.
  • You can provide a safe haven for pets who may need a place to rehabilitate after surgery.
  • You can help make a genuine difference to help prepare kittens and puppies for their forever homes.

Ask yourself. Do you?

  • Do you have love for animals?
  • Have an interest in animal behaviour?
  • Have room in your home for a foster animal?
  • Have the time to provide training and hands-on attention?
  • Have your own vehicle?

AWL NSW has over 16 volunteer branches across NSW, all looking for new foster carers to help them care for more pets in their local community. Our foster carers are a vital part of what makes AWL NSW so successful in rehoming around 2,000 animals every year. Click here to apply to become an AWL NSW foster carer. 

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