Owners still spend thousands on pets

The economy may be tanked but people are still eager to have their furry friends at their sides. An Associated Press poll released this week found that over half of American pet owners consider their pets as much a part of the family as any other person. Another 36% said their pet is part of the family but not a full member. Nearly half of pet owners admit to feeding animals human food, giving them human names, and nearly a third let them sleep in their beds.

All this camaraderie does not come cheap. There is the cost of purchasing the pet, followed by one-time and annual costs that can add up, according to the ASPCA.

One Time Expenses

Spaying or Neutering: Dog: $200 / Cat: $145
Initial Medical Exam: Dog: $70 / Cat: $130
Collar or Leash: Dog: $30 / Cat: $10
Litter Box: Cat: $25
Scratching Post: Cat: $15
Crate: Dog: $95
Carrying Crate: Dog: $60 / Cat: $40
Training: Dog: $110
Total One Time Costs: Dog: $565 / Cat: $365

Annual Expenses

Food: Dog: $120/ Cat: $145
Annual Medical Exams: Dog: $235 / Cat: $130
Litter: Cat: $200
Toys and Treats: Dog: $55 / Cat: $25
License: Dog: $15
Health Insurance: Dog: $225 / Cat: $175
Miscellaneous: Dog: $45 / Cat: $30
Total Annual Costs: Dog: $695 / Cat: $705

Total First Year Pet Ownership Costs: Dog: $1,260/Cat: $1,070

And this doesn't include the toys.

This doesn't come as any big surprise to me. We have always had pets -- it just doesn't seem like a home without them. Currently we have two cats that are with us all the time and yes, they sleep with us.

But I know people are willing to spend even more. My daughter is in veterinary medicine at the University of Wisconsin and sees cases come through the hospital all the time. They routinely are doing hip replacements for $2,000-$4,000 and even kidney transplants to keep furry friends alive. One dog that was shot ran up a bill of $22,000.

Outrageous you say? Yes, I thought so too until I ran into a friend of mine who dumped close to $50,000 getting chemotherapy for her dog. When I asked her why she spent so much money on a dog, her answer was simple. "He treats me better than anyone else in the family."

Barbara Bartlein is the People Pro. For her FREE e-mail newsletter, please visit: The People Pro.

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