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There’s No Such Thing As a Free Pet

By Jim Tedford, Director of Pet Identification

To be honest, I don’t remember much from my college Economics class.  But I do remember one concept…”TANSTAFL:  there aint no such thing as a free lunch”.  In the case of my career and my life, I’ve made a minor revision to that adage:  “there aint no such thing as a free PET!”

Don’t get me wrong.  There are plenty of “free to good home” ads in local newspapers all over the country.  In communities where the practice has not yet been outlawed, there are even people giving away unwanted litters of puppies and kittens outside of shopping center and on street corners.  (By the way, there is an EASY cure for those unwanted litters.  It’s called spaying or neutering your pets!  I’ll save that soapbox speech for another blog entry…). 

But, there is truly no such thing as a FREE pet. That kitten your neighbor convinces you to take off his hands will be with you for 15+ years.  During his lifetime, he will eat every single day.  He will need fresh litter regularly.  He will need to be neutered.  He will need annual vaccinations and other preventative health care.  He will need medical care when he’s sick.  And sometimes that care will be extraordinarily expensive!

On a recent trip to my veterinarian I was presented with a bill that was more than double what I earned in a month at my first real job!  I really SHOULD have taken advantage of the pet insurance I was offered when I adopted Bodie…but I didn’t.  So, my choices were to ignore a major health crisis being faced by my best friend, or have him treated and pay the bill.  Not really a choice at all in my book! 

Thankfully, I went into the relationship with my eyes wide open and part of my commitment to Bodie and all my pets is that I will provide ALL their needs. If you are thinking of adding a companion animal to your life, being financially prepared for those little surprises is very important.  For some folks that means a rainy day fund and for others it means a monthly pet insurance premium.  In either case, the payback in sloppy wet kisses and unconditional love is well worth the investment.

ABOUT JIM: Jim Tedford serves as Director of Pet Identification for PetSafe. Working on the front line of animal welfare for over 20 years, Jim has served as CEO for organizations in New York, Louisiana and Tennessee. Prior to joining PetSafe, Jim provided marketing and fundraising services to animal welfare organizations nationwide. Jim holds a degree in animal science from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Jim and his wife Ann share their “empty nest” in the Smoky Mountains with adopted dogs Bodie, Sam, and Lila and a formerly homeless macaw, Gipper.

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I love love love this article. Almost 2 years ago Rufus came into our lives. He is my Craigslist puppy…Dachshund must be rehomed by end of day (then the day was listed). We called and picked him up…we paid $100 for him and I think that was the best $100 I have ever spent. I contacted his original breeder…see, Rufus was not quite 1 years old when we got him and he had already had 3 other homes. I wanted his AKC reg. papers to enter him in field trials and other events with my other 2 dachshunds. The breeder told me it will cost me another $250 for filing and some more $$ for his inconvenience. He also wanted to breed Rufus, even though I told him he was neutered. The breeder told me it wasn’t worth his troubles for my “free dog”. I thought about that comment long and hard and then sent an email back questioning how he, as a breeder would possibly think any pet was free…no response was received.  Thank you for this wonderful article.-Vickie, Willie, Maggie Mae and Rufus :)

[...] found her and took her home. I knew what a responsibility I was undertaking, and had made the necessary purchases. Yet, it was still never real until she was actually in my arms, on our way home. I couldn’t [...]

THANK YOU!!!  I was looking for the right thing to say and this sums it up beautifully.

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