A major purchase you should be well-informed about is buying a pet. It’s a decision that carries a lot of responsibility and costs. From food to the vet bill, Americans are expected to spend more than $50 billion on their pets this year. Kelli Grant, Sr. Consumer Reporter for SmartMoney.com, offers some tips on what to consider when buying a pet from the store.
First, before you even get a pet, you should educate yourself. Once you’ve decided which pet is right for you, read up on what you’ll require for your new friend. “When you are looking and doing all this research, you want to make sure that you don’t really look at the pet store display as the end-all, be-all of what you’re going to need when you get home,” Grant says. “Often times the tanks are too small, the experts tell us, and they don’t really give you the real depth and breadth of what you are going to need to spend to keep that animal in good condition.”
You should also really look into where you are getting your pet from. Grant points out this is one of the most contentious issues when it comes to pet stores: where did that puppy come from? “Pet stores themselves will say that they only work with USDA licensed breeders, but animal welfare advocates say that that’s really not good enough, the federal standards are so low that you get so-called ‘puppy mills,’ which are basically commercial breeders with really inhumane conditions.” She suggests looking for adoptions or visiting a local breeder to know where your puppy comes from. And if you do decide to go to a pet store, ask to see inspection reports for that puppy’s breeder before buying, to make sure there haven’t been any problems.
Another thing to consider when purchasing a pet is the Vet bill. Grant says this can be a very expensive bill, especially if you are talking about pet store animals. “We had Vets that told us that [it's] very, very common to have parasites, intestinal disorders, a lot of very scary and very expensive disorders that can actually be very dangerous for your pet.”
Grant also adds you shouldn’t forget that pets can also get you sick. You should even be conscious of this when you are touching pets in the store. “Something like Salmonella, very easy to contract from turtles that are in the store,” she says. “A lot of other reptiles can also be carriers.” She recommends washing your hands before and after you touch the animals to keep from getting sick.
And finally, when you are looking to find supplies for your animal friend, it pays to shop around. Grant suggests looking outside of the pet stores for your needs, and visiting supermarkets and super-stores like Wal-Mart and Target for better prices. “They often have better deals on cat litter, litter boxes, leashes, toys, all of those extra things that you need.” She does point out the catch can be with premium pet food that you can only get at the pet store. She says just shop around to make sure you are getting the best deal.
For more tips on what to consider when buying a pet and other consumer advice, visit SmartMoney.com.