According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 42 million American households owned a dog in 2007, the most recent year for which data are available. Households spent an average of $356 on veterinary visits that year, it said.Animals should always be treated as a member of the family, not as casual entertainment. To avoid pet neglect, use these helpful tips:
More than 37 million households owned a cat and spent an average of $190 on visits to the vet in 2007, the association said.
Those dollars, pet experts say, are becoming more difficult for some cash-strapped owners to pay.
Families with economic struggles would be especially burdened if they struggled to provide for their pet too. I'm thankful to see shelters and local groups helping families out.
Contact local shelters or rescue groups to locate pet food pantries or to find pet-friendly apartments if you have to move. They can link you with programs that can help with necessary vet care, medications or low-cost spay/neuter. In an increasing number of cities, groups are forming to provide short-term foster care for pets whose owners need a little time to get stable again.
Go to the home page of the Humane Society of the United States (hsus.org) and click on Pet Tip, which offers a state-by-state, ever-growing list of groups offering free or discounted pet food, medical care or temporary foster care.
(Pets pictured are all available for adoption on petfinder.com)