Make Ends Meet: Pets and inflation
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Nothing is safe when it comes to the record setting inflation the country has experienced, not even the needs of your beloved pet.
For that reason, pet shelters across the nation are seeing record numbers of surrenders and many pets have been released into the community to fend for themselves.
It’s gotten so bad in some places they have had to turn to “economic euthanasia,” when animals are humanely put to death for financial reasons because there is just no place or no way to care for them any longer.
Ashly Book is the Interim Director of Louisville, Metro Animal Services. Her team is doing all they can to care for the animals now in their care.
“Every shelter I’ve talked to you see them in the news,” Book said. “Everybody is full!”
LMAS is doing everything it can to keep it’s no kill status.
Book and her team are the creative minds behind many adoption focused events in the city as they try to address the overwhelming number of pets who now call the shelter home.
“In just a little over four days we took in 116 animals,” Book said. “That’s wild. That’s almost my entire kennel population is how many came in. We’re seeing higher intake and lower adoptions and a lot of what we attribute that to is inflation.”
The overall cost of living in the U.S. has skyrocketed and the cost to care for anything living went right through the roof as well.
“Everything’s just more expensive,” Book said. “Dog food went up. We’re seeing more people come into the shelter looking for help for that food to help take care of that pet.”
Pawlicy Advisor, a pet insurance brokerage company that can help pet owners find optimal insurance coverage for their pets, recently released their findings from a survey on the rising costs of having a pet.
Over 21% of those that responded to the survey explained they had rehomed a pet in the last year. 26% of them largely cited the cost of living as the primary reason.
U.S. Pet Owners Can’t Keep Up with Rising Costs - Pawlicy Advisor Survey Finds Financial Struggles Causing Owners to Rehome Pets and Forego Care
Due to high inflation and a fluctuating economy, overall cost of living in the U.S. has surged over the last few years.
Coupled with the long-running veterinarian shortage heightened by the pandemic and advancements in technology increasing costs of treatments, among other factors, the majority of pet owners’ wallets are stretched thin and unable to afford routine pet care and supplies.
As a result, pet owners are seeking alternative methods to afford the needs of their furry friends. Yet, two-thirds of the American pet owners surveyed say they do not have a pet insurance policy to help offset veterinary costs.
Survey results show: 64% percent of American pet owners surveyed say they were surprised by pet care costs in their first year of owning a pet.
- Over one-fifth (21%) report that they have rehomed a pet in the last year, largely citing the cost of living as the primary reason (26%).
- More than 1 in 4 (27%) say they have had to refuse necessary medical care for their pet due to financial reasons, meanwhile most do not have a pet insurance policy to help offset veterinary costs.
- The majority of U.S. pet owners are unable to pay out-of-pocket for expenses due to rising costs.
- Surveyed pet owners say they look for alternative methods to help budget for pet-related expenses and emergencies – but only 28% of those cite pet insurance as one of their methods. Meanwhile, respondents lean on payment plans (35%), separate credit card specifically for pet expenses (21%), separate pet savings account (18%) and seeking help from nonprofits (10%).
$100,000 Annual Income Isn’t Enough for Pet Owners Anymore
While the majority of pet owners are facing financial difficulties when it comes to pet care, U.S. pet owners who earn less than $100,000 a year face significantly more challenges.
- Only 29% of surveyed pet owners who make under $100k per year in income have a pet insurance policy, with 56% of those who don’t have a pet insurance policy citing not being able to afford it as the primary reason why. This is significantly lower than the number of pet owners making $100k or more per year in income with pet insurance policies (57%).
- 39% of respondents making at least $100k per year say they have rehomed a pet in the last year, with one-third (33%) citing cost of living as the reason why.
- Despite earning less, only 17% of pet owners making under $100k per year say they have rehomed a pet in the last year, with 23% citing cost of living as the reason.
- Despite rising costs and challenges paying for care, Americans still love to spoil their pets with gifts like toys, treats and accessories. In fact, 65% of pet owners who make at least $100k say they typically spend between $50 to $200 per month on gifts for their pets, whereas 60% of those who earn less typically spend less than $50 per month.
Divorced Pet Parents are Falling Behind
Financial security is often challenging for Americans who are divorced or separated, but those with pets face additional difficulties when it comes to affording the costs associated with caring for their furry family members.
- The majority (80%) of American pet owners surveyed who are divorced or separated say they do not have a pet insurance policy, with 56% citing not being able to afford it as the main reason. In comparison, only 59% of those who are married say they do not have a pet insurance policy.
- 37% of divorced or separated respondents say they budget for pet-related expenses and emergencies using free or low-cost clinics for at least some of their expenses.
- Despite their financial burden, 90% of divorced or separated pet owners say they treated their pet to a present for the holidays in the last year.
Gen Z is Prioritizing their Pets More than Older Generations
Pet insurance is much more common in younger generations, specifically Gen Z. With this generation managing to get on their own two feet during a long stint of economic downturn, Gen Z-ers are turning toward pet insurance to provide for their pets and offset rising costs more than any other generation.
- Pet insurance is much more common in younger generations, with 52% of 18–24-year-old American pet owners reporting that they have a pet insurance policy.
This is significantly higher than older generations, most notably 45–54-year-old pet owners (16%) and pet owners over the age of 54 (13%).
“It does create a very stressful situation where not only do you not have the funds already now the things you need to take care of your pet are increasing as well,” Pawlicy Advisor Marketing Director Edwin Plotts said.
According to the Labor Department the price of pet products were up nearly 12% last November compared to the same time in 2021, the price of pet food was up by more than 15%.
“There are resources out there that you can reach out to,” Book said. “Talk to your friends. Talk to your family. There might be people out ther4e willing to help you and house your dog temporarily until you can get back on your feet.”
Other tips-clip coupons and look for sales for your pet’s food—just like you do for your own groceries.
Buy in bulk if there’s a sale and you can properly store the food. Shelters, veterinarians, and local rescue groups can often provide free food for your pet. You can also make DIY treats for your pet.
“70% of people in America are pet owners,” Plotts said. “Most people have a pet. There has been a migrating trend as seeing pets as more members of the family.”
Many animal rescue agencies and shelters appreciate donations to help families during tough times like these.
Plots also reminds pet owners vet cost are inevitable.
“It’s very likely you will be faced with an unexpected veterinary cost outside of the norm,” Plotts said. “One in three pets face an emergency care situation.”
Pawlicy Advisor recommends pet health insurance which could really make a difference if your pet has an illness.
There are also services like Care Credit or ScratchPay if your pet gets sick, and you have to pay that vet bill.
For more information on Pawlicy Advisor, click or tap here.
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