Americans are known for not doing anything half-heartedly. Indeed, we greet many things with passion and gusto, which can sometimes lead us into the dangerous ground of obsession. One thing that Americans seem to have fallen completely in love with is our pets.
According to the figures for 2016, Americans spent an estimated $62 billon on our animals. That figure includes the cost of all of the pets that are typically kept in our homes. Breaking down the figures it is estimated that $23.05 billion went toward food with another $15.7 billion going toward veterinarian expenses. That leaves approximately $32 billion going toward incidentals, including grooming and over the counter supplements.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty went further in breaking down those numbers as far as how much goes towards the different species of animals kept as pets. It may be quite obvious that the lion’s portion of those expenses went toward Fido, with Fluffy the cat coming in second. The agency went so far as breaking down the average costs for maintaining a large dog versus a smaller one. Fish and small birds came in as the least expensive pets to care for with both averaging around $250 per year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics purportedly determined that each American family spent an estimated $500 last year on their pet. That amount is approximately 1 percent of the budget annually. This love affair is supposedly a recession-proof industry because even though the economy goes through it up and down cycles, pet owners place a priority on ensuring that their fur-babies never go without.
While families are entitled to spend their hard-earned money any way they see fit, consider for a moment if these same households were to contribute equal amounts to a charity of their choice on a regular basis? A homeless shelter could find many ways to share those types of financial resources given half a chance. Likewise, organizations that provide low-cost medical care or help set-up educational resources for the under-privileged could also use a windfall amount.
The problem is not necessarily that we spend too much money on our pets, but rather, we spend too little care and compassion on our fellow man. Too often it is heard that people prefer their pet over humans. But why is that? Possibly it is because pets are devoted and lavish attention and affection on their owners. They don’t share unpopular viewpoints or argue about difficult topics. An animal does not question its owner’s authority or seek ways to get revenge if they feel mistreated.
So while it is comforting to have that warm furbaby nestled in your lap and gazing at you with those big expressive eyes, maybe we are so devoted to our pets because they won’t ever truly disappoint us or cause us real pain. They live too short lives and seek to please, whereas people are complicated and independent in thoughts and emotions. So maybe it’s not that we love our pets more, but maybe because they hurt us less?
Writer Bio: Angela Mose
I am a mom of 7 who has successfully homeschooled for 20 years. I was married for more than 25 years and have recently started my life over. I have a passion for writing and music and when the two can be combined, it is utopia. A Maryland native, I am planning to relocate north in the near future and will continue to strive to learn and experience new things on a regular basis. I am fortunate enough to be able to work from home while exploring new ways to increase my knowledge and skills and help improve the lives of those around me.