Inflation forces pet owners to make tough choices

With the rising cost of living, some pet owners are finding it difficult to keep up with their animals’ needs and are surrendering pets as a result.

Owners are having trouble keeping up with the increasing costs of food, toys, grooming, and even vet bills. These increased costs are leading pet lovers to make tough calls in already tense situations.

One pet owner and student, Elise Brooks, had to help her family cover the costs of an emergency vet bill after their dog needed to be put down in September. She said that the experience was a bad situation on top of another, having lost a pet and needing to pay approximately $1,600 for the bill.

“The experience with my family’s youngest dog was completely unexpected, we never knew it would cost so much to do what had to be done,” said Brooks. “It’s not the office’s fault, of course. Supplies and procedures for animal care are expensive.

She said that after having to deal with a stressful situation combined with rising rent and grocery prices, a pricey vet bill makes life, “so much harder.”

“Having to come up with $1600 for an already horrible scenario was really tough. Manageable, but it wasn’t pretty, so I helped to pitch in,” said Brooks. “On top of the emotional heartbreak, the bill was a huge financial setback on myself and my family.”

Inflation is also increasing the costs of vet care itself.

Through invoices acquired from pet owners like Brooks, it was found that one vet clinic in Regina, 24 HR Animal Care Centre, increased the price of a 1-day hospitalization from $88.25 in October 2020 to $92.67 as of the writing of this article, an increase of five per cent in two years. Another clinic in the city, Lakewood Animal Hospital, increased the price of an annual checkup from $93.50 in November 2020 to $106.00 as of the writing of this article, an increase of 13 per cent in two years.

In an email statement from the Regina Humane Society (RHS), they said that, while they are seeing pre-pandemic levels of animals being surrendered, the cost of caring for an animal is the most cited reason for surrendering a pet.

“Many people adopted pets during the pandemic as they found that they were home or had extra time and money to be able to take care of a pet,” said the RHS. “While the vast majority of pets adopted over the last two years remain with their family, some adopters have found the commitment to be more than they expected once they returned to the office.  As a result, they have needed to rehome their pets.”

According to Brooks, her family is finding it costly just to keep up with pet necessities like food and litter.

She said, “When looking through the stores for options, even the cheapest, most sketchy-looking food is incredibly expensive.”

However, Brooks has never been able to consider surrendering her animals, as she sees them as an important part of her family.

“I couldn’t bear to hurt them in any way. But I have surrendered other important things in my life to be able to keep my and my family’s pets healthy and happy in exchange,” said Brooks.

Feature photo: Cat adopted from the Regina Humane Society in November 2020.

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