Mil­len­nial pet par­ents make sac­ri­fices for fur ba­bies

The Korea Times - - LIFESTYLE - By Chris­ten A. John­son

When Cait­lyn Isham got her pet pig, Pork­chop, six years ago, her large family had just wel­comed three stair-step new­borns.

“I had nephews born in May, June, and July,” said Isham, a 37-year-old Wicker Park res­i­dent. “I got Pork­chop later in the fall and said, ‘Here’s my con­tri­bu­tion to the family.’”

With 14 nieces and nephews, Isham said she’s “not short on the baby as­pect.” And much like her sib­lings, she’s a de­voted, car­ing par­ent — her child just has hooves.

Pork­chop snug­gles in bed with Isham at night; Isham makes sure his diet is top-notch; she’s on top of his vet­eri­nar­ian visits; Pork­chop has his own room in the apart­ment (Isham’s old walk-in closet, which she con­verted); he has am­ple toys and en­ter­tain­ment; and he even pouts or throws a tantrum here and there.

“I treat him like my child,” said Isham, and one thing that comes along with chil­dren: an ex­or­bi­tant amount of ex­penses — seen and un­fore­seen.

Re­cent data from an Au­gust 2019 Lend­ingTree sur­vey found that ap­prox­i­mately 42 per­cent of the mil­len­ni­als sur­veyed have been in pet-re­lated debt. Nearly 1 in 10 are cur­rently pay­ing it off.

The sur­vey ques­tioned 760 pet own­ers dur­ing the first three days of July 2019. The goal was to see how pet own­ers pay for their an­i­mals, es­pe­cially when a sur­prise ex­pense pops up.

Bri­anna Wright, lead re­searcher of the study, said that the debt comes down to a mil­len­nial’s net worth and dis­cre­tionary in­come.

“Higher salaries come as you get older,” said Wright, a con­sumer re­search spe­cial­ist at Lend­ingTree, “so mil­len­ni­als may have stu­dent loan debt or other things (to pay for), so find­ing money for their an­i­mal in an emer­gency might be im­pos­si­ble to do with­out tak­ing on debt; they might not have a choice.”

Luck­ily for Isham, who named her pig Pork­chop so his name could read “Pork­chop Is Ham,” a play on her last name, she hasn’t had any emer­gency ex­penses for Pork­chop, and she isn’t in debt be­cause of him.

Be­fore pur­chas­ing Pork­chop from a breeder in Florida — he cost be­tween $1,500 and $2,000 — Isham did a lot of re­search to de­ter­mine if she could prop­erly care for a pet pig. Even with be­ing equipped and know­ing what she was sign­ing up for, there were still a few curve balls.

“The sur­prise was more in the vet bills,” said Isham, “be­cause I never an­tic­i­pated that he would have to get put un­der (with anes­the­sia) each year (so that they could trim his hooves and his tusks).”

Since Pork­chop is a pig, Isham has to go to a “spe­cial vet,” she said. “He’s ba­si­cally the only vet in the area (suitable for Pork­chop), so I have no choice; I can’t shop around for a bet­ter deal.” Pork­chop’s last visit cost $800.

Isham has a des­ig­nated CareCredit credit card for Pork­chop’s vet­eri­nar­ian visits, which she can pay in six months to a year with no fi­nanc­ing, she said.

“But that’s the only way I can af­ford him be­cause of pay­ment plans and things like that,” said Isham.

Chicago Tri­bune-Tri­bune News Ser­vice

Cait­lyn Isham gives her pet pig named Pork­chop a kiss at her Chicago home on Sept. 18.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Korea, Republic

© PressReader. All rights reserved.