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Cost of pets shown by Suffolk pooch

PUBLISHED: 03:00 09 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:49 03 March 2010

KEEPING a cat or a dog can cost you thousands of pounds over its lifetime, warns a new RSPCA campaign featuring a Felixstowe dog.

The dog, which suffered from a rare skin infection, is being used by the society to highlight the problems which owners can face, as it urges prospective pet owners to think carefully about the cost of keeping an animal - and to be prepared for the financial commitment.

KEEPING a cat or a dog can cost you thousands of pounds over its lifetime, warns a new RSPCA campaign featuring a Felixstowe dog.

The dog, which suffered from a rare skin infection, is being used by the society to highlight the problems which owners can face, as it urges prospective pet owners to think carefully about the cost of keeping an animal – and to be prepared for the financial commitment.

They say they have seen too many animals suffer because their owners were unwilling or unable to pay for the cost of daily care and expensive vets' bills.

The RSPCA says during an animal's lifetime, owners can expect to pay:

n £9,600 for a dog;

n £8,000 for a cat;

n £7,600 for two rabbits living together.

They say costs for feeding, neutering, micro-chipping, boarding and vets quickly add up and the financial pressure on pet owners has never been greater.

To draw attention to the problem, the RSPCA has launched the campaign called The Price of a Pet, and is urging people to pick a pet which suits their lifestyle and purse, and to take our pet insurance to cover unexpected vets' bills.

RSPCA Inspector Marc Niepold said that in one case he had dealt with in Felixstowe a Rhodesian ridgeback dog has suffered from a painful chronic skin infection but the owner did not have enough money for it to be treated.

The problem was left untreated to the point where the dog was constantly scratching and parts of its body were red raw.

The society stepped in to help to provide transport to get the dog to and from a vet's and fund the cost of the treatment.

"The owner just didn't have the money for the treatment which was needed. I used to pick the dog up and take it to the vet and then home again every week. The dog was on steroid tablets, antibiotics and had to have an antibacterial shampoo regularly – it needed a lot of treatment," said Mr Niepold.

"But it was so rewarding to see it back to full health. That's the great side of this job and the bit I really enjoy."

John Atter, regional manager of the RSPCA in the eastern counties, said: "The benefits of pet ownership are numerous and having animals as part of the family can be a wonderful experience.

"However, animals are a huge responsibility and they often find themselves the victims of neglect and suffering if their owners have not planned for the amount of time and money necessary for proper care.

"Owning a pet is a lifetime commitment. The last thing we want to see is animals being abandoned or neglected because people have got them on whim and didn't realise the long-term cost and commitment involved.

"The RSPCA frequently helps owners struggling to look after their pets during times of financial difficulty."

Most animals suffering was caused by neglect rather than deliberate cruelty but the society would not hesitate to prosecute in the worst cases of abuse.

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