I highly recommend and strongly encourage rescuing a pet from your local shelter or humane society. Growing up I always had border collies so I had my heart set on getting a border collie as our first dog. I don't have a single regret about not getting a border collie and rescuing Bailey from the shelter has been such a wonderful experience that I think we will always go to the local humane society whenever we are considering a new pet!
Enough rambling....now onto the money saving aspect of this post!! Here is what you can do to save money before adopting a pet!
For several months after we got our dog I kept track of everything we spent on her. I stopped after a little while because it became depressing seeing how much money we spent! And she is a relatively low maintainance dog too! We spent about $1000 over the first four months. Considering that's what some people pay just for a purebred puppy, that's not too bad!
- Buy from the Shelter - There are so many good reasons to rescue a puppy from a shelter, not to mention this is your best bet if you want to save money (and get the most bang for your buck - most shelters spay/neuter puppies and administer vaccines and medicines that you would have to pay for out of pocket if you get a puppy from a friend/neighbor or buy one from a breeder). And PLEASE, whatever you do, do NOT buy a puppy from a pet store!! A lot of these puppies have been linked to puppy mills where animals are kept in tortuous conditions.
- Swing by Salvation Army, Good Will, or a few garage sales for pet gates. We priced them in Walmart and the Pet stores and the cheapest ones we found were around $30. I picked one up from Salvation Army for $4.
- Borrow from friends or co-workers! A lot of people may have old crates or gates that they no longer use or that their pups outgrew.
- Consider any fees you may need to pay if you have a pet. This mostly applies to people living in apartments.
- Comparison shop for puppy school/training classes. The cheapest options are usually offered at chain pet stores, but there may be others at your community center or vet's office. Search the web and make a few phone calls.
- As with anything else, the web can be helpful and not so helpful, all at the same time. There are plenty of websites and online pet stores that can make you believe you need a million extra things. Only buy a handful of toys to start. Your dog might end up being pretty picky in regards to what they like to play with. We've had Bailey for a year and a half and the only toys we have that have lasted this whole time are her Kong, Orbee Snowball, and various Nylabones (she's a HEAVY chewer!)
- Dog treats are one thing I get for free or close to free. Combine coupons and grocery store sales and these are definitely NOT a budget breaker. (Stay tuned to learn how to master this technique!)
- Food - As with most anything, the bigger package is usually a better value. Invest in a large food container (ours fits 25 pounds worth of food). This will not only keep your dog's food fresh but also keep any unwanted pests out of it (in turn saving you money by not having to throw out perfectly good food!) As for the brand? My advice would be try to find the "healthiest" food you can but make sure it's something your dog will actually eat!
Hopefully this helps. I can't put a price on the happiness and companionship that our dog has brought us! She's certainly worth it!