American Pet Spending of $41 billion is Greater Than the GNP of All But 64 Countries

Americans spend a ridiculous amount on their Pets and that amount is only increasing. What does that say about us and our country?

I recently asked an acquaintance how she was doing and she replied, "Okay, Ralphie is in chemo and it's been a really tough couple of weeks."  I didn't realize her husband had cancer and when I questioned her further, she clarified, "Ralphie is my dog."  I felt relieved that it was her dog, not her husband, but the conversation left me with a unsettled feeling.  A dog in chemo? 

That feeling blossomed this morning when I read an article in Business Week entitled The "Pet Economy."  The article states that Americans spend $41 billion per year on their pets, more than the GNP of all but 64 countries.  They pay for surgery to make their pets anatomically correct after neutering (it's called Neuticales, a patented testicular implant), they splurge on designer clothing, gourmet food, medicine and hire people to pick up their pet's poop.  In many cases, pets are living better than many of the people I know.  There are now special diet programs for pets who have gotten too fat on all of the designer food.

This is ridiculous and speaks to the moral and material confusion of the United States.  I'm not a left-wing liberal but even I can see the irony of overfat, medically well-treated pets in a country where people are without adequate nutrition and health care coverage.  Or what about the appalling lack of human living conditions in countries across the world?  Is someone able to shut out the suffering of others so that Fluffy can have a gourmet meal and a luxury bath?

Here's what I would recommend we do.  Tax all pet products.  If you want to buy your dog a gold encased bath, or Polo clothing, or expensive medicine - fine.  But it should all be heavily taxed and the funds used to help provide proper nutrition and medical care to people in the United States and across the world who are without.

Sol Nasisi
Sol Nasisi: Sol Nasisi is the co-founder and a past president of BestCashCow, an online resource for comprehensive bank rate information. In this capacity, he closely followed rate trends for all savings-related and loan products and the impact of rate fluctuations on the economy. He specifically focused on how rates impact consumers' ability to borrow and save. He also has authored a wee

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  • Anonymous

    July 31, 2007

    I tend to agree. I don't know about taxing pet items but there does seem to be some kind of disconnect. I think we should respect and treat our pets well, but we don't need to treat them like humans, or even better.

  • Anonymous

    July 31, 2007

    I think that is a great idea to tax these products to benefit poorer Americans. Taxes can realign a society's priorities and ours are out-of-whack if we are spending so much on these products. I however disagree with sending money to the world's poor. We are already doing that through the UN and it is just winding up in some Swiss bank accounts of some wealthy dictators.

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