Callie Reiling

Callie Reiling

Veterinary Technician

Callie is from Atkinson, IL and has always had a life long love of animals and pets. She graduated from the University of Illinois with a BS in Animal Sciences before making her way to the PAVG team. Callie has three Australian Shepherds named Thor, Fleury and Sidney. When she’s not at the hospital, you may find Callie hiking, taking photographs, or hanging out with her friends and family.

Claudia Engquist

Kennel Assistant

Claudia was born and raised in Chillicothe. She grew up with animals and worked as a doggy daycare attendant for two years before finding her way to working in a veterinary clinic. Claudia is currently attending ICC for her associates degree in science. She is a self proclaimed Crazy Cat Lady and shares her home with five cats – Nugget and Hershey, just to name two. She also has three Leopard Geckos, three Bearded Dragons and seven Axolotis (a species of fully aquatic salamanders)! When she’s lucky enough to have free time, you might find Claudia napping or soaking up the sunshine on a beautiful day.

The Costly Truth About Free Puppies

We’ve all seen them: adorable, wiggly puppies in a box, being given away for free in a parking lot or in front of a store. These days, you can also find free puppies and dogs all over the internet on social media and sites like Craigslist.

But the truth is that while a “free puppy” may cost you nothing up front, taking care of a dog for life is an expensive commitment. There are always many costs associated with pet ownership, including:

  • Food
  • Vaccinations (rabies is mandated by law)
  • Licensing (may be required by law where you live)
  • Toys
  • Bedding
  • Veterinary care (worming, flea prevention, etc.)
  • Leash/collar/harness

A puppy will depend on you for everything and those needs will come with a price—not just in money, but also in time, effort and patience. Training, socialization, bathing/grooming, housebreaking and regular exercise are all part of adding a dog to the family.

The fact is that any puppy given away for free probably hasn’t been cared for properly, and so you may end up with immediate costs such as worming, vaccinations and bathing just to make sure the pup is healthy. Owning a dog is usually a 10-15-year commitment that could potentially run you hundreds or thousands of dollars over a lifetime.

Sometimes what motivates people to seek out free puppies is the idea that a mixed-breed puppy is somehow less valuable than a purebred or the idea that adopting a puppy “who will bond with you” or “grow up with the kids” is a better experience. Neither of these assumptions are true, and in fact, the millions of people who adopt rescue pets every year can attest to that.

How much is that puppy in the FREE box?

A recent study done by the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine is a great eye-opener about the actual financial costs of dog ownership, and definitely worth a read if you’re considering looking for a “free” puppy.  The bottom line? That free dog is going to cost you an average of $3085 the first year alone. Over a lifetime, the tab for dog ownership averages $23, 410.

Those estimates, by the way, include food, bedding, just the basics in vet care and the cost of one serious illness per year. Toys, training, boarding and grooming were not factored in to the costs.

So as you can see, “free” puppies aren’t exactly low-cost pets.

Finders keepers—for life

The truth is you can always find free or affordable puppies and dogs, especially if you’re not particular about breed. However, you should do some research, because not all canines are a good fit for all families. For example, intelligent, high-energy herding breeds are not going to work for a busy family that leaves the dog alone in the yard all day while they’re working or at school. A smaller, more delicate breed of dog might not be the best choice for a home with active, rough-n-tumble kids.

The most responsible way to acquire a dog or puppy is to check regularly at your local shelters and rescues. Many times, they’ll hold low- and no-cost adoption days. These animals usually come with most of their shots and have been (or will be) spayed or neutered at no charge to you. A great place to start is Petfinder, where you can put in your location and other specifics about what you’re looking for in a pet. The search engine will then pull up a list of adoptable animals near you that meet your specifications.

You can also ask your friends and coworkers to be on the lookout for puppies or young dogs needing homes, as word of mouth is often a great way to find a dog in need of a home. Make sure to ask lots of questions before adopting, however. Sadly, many families are often so desperate to rid themselves of a pet they may not be completely honest about the dog’s needs and personality.

And a word about Craigslist: be very careful when researching free or low-cost puppies online at this site or on social media. Again, read the listing in full and ask as many questions as possible. Why are they giving the dog away? Is it spayed, neutered, or vaccinated? What is the dog’s history and are there vet records you can have or access?

Most importantly, before you adopt, ask yourself: am I prepared to take care of this dog for life, even if I move or finances become difficult?

There is an alternative

If your family is thinking about adopting but want to take a test-run of adding a dog to the family, there are some other options.

  • Be a foster family: Work with a local shelter or rescue to take in a puppy or dog that needs a place to stay on a temporary basis until it is adopted or until there’s space at the shelter. This will give you a taste of the pet-owner life without the commitment.
  • Volunteer at a dog shelter or rescue: These organizations are always in need of people to walk, play with, and care for dogs. Several organizations are even breed-specific, so if there’s a breed you’re particularly interested in, you can learn more about it through volunteering.

Adding a dog to the family can be a truly rewarding experience if you make sure that you’re prepared. Remember, there’s no such thing as “free”— especially when it comes to pets.

Kitten Care 101

If you’ve recently welcomed a new kitten to your home, congratulations! Raising a cat is a fun and rewarding experience that will be beneficial to both of you for many years to come. But it’s important to remember that with great power comes great responsibility—your new feline friend will be very dependent on you; therefore, we’ve created a convenient guide that will help you take care of your kitty cat.

The first few months you have with your kitten will be very important and will lay the foundation for your feline’s future health and behavior. If you follow the below guidelines, you can ensure a happy and healthy life for your kitten.

Verify Your Kitten’s Age

Age is more than just a number, and for kittens, this is especially crucial. Baby cats have specific developmental needs during their first 10 weeks of life, which include attention to their socialization, nourishment, warmth and potty training.

Because of this, a lot of shelters and breeders will often wait until kittens are of age, but if by chance you do find yourself with a kitten under 10 weeks old, please consult your vet for specific instructions.

Take Your Kitten to the Vet Immediately

Once you acquire your baby kitty, bring them to us for an exam. This benefits you and the animal, as this time lets you ask questions and advice regarding kitten care and litterbox training. We also will test for health issues including parasites, birth defects and feline leukemia to make sure your new best friend is in tip-top shape.

During this visit, we will discuss:

  • Food recommendations, scheduling and portion sizes
  • Internal and external parasite control
  • Socialization, especially if you have other household pets
  • Sings of illness to be aware of during their first few months
  • Scheduling of future visits and a discussion of preventive health

Give Your Fur Baby Quality Food

There’s more to pet feeding than grabbing a bag of food at the grocer. For kittens, they need as much as three times more nutrients and calories than adult cats—so you definitely need to find a high-quality food that is designed specifically for kittens. And don’t forget to look for a statement from the Association of Animal Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) which should be somewhere on the packaging. This ensures that the food is nutritionally complete.

Let Your Kitten Be Social

Once we’ve cleared your kitten of parasites and disease, you can safely let them explore their new surroundings and other animal roommates if applicable. Also, make sure to emotionally bond with your cat at least once a day by handling and playing with them.

Prepare Your Kitten’s Space

Do plan to have a quiet, safe area for your kitten before you bring them home. Place things like food and water bowls, a litterbox and cozy bedding. If possible, put their food away from their litterbox, as cats don’t like that, and you don’t want a grumpy cat.

Have These Essentials

  • Good quality food
  • Litterbox and kitty litter
  • Cat carrier
  • Food and water bowls
  • Bedding
  • Collar and ID tags
  • Scratching post
  • Kitten-safe toys without small pieces they could swallow
  • Cat toothbrush and toothpaste (try to get them started on a young age)

Be Aware of Early Signs of Illness

Contact us immediately if your kitten shows any of these symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Poor weight gain
  • Vomiting
  • Painful abdomen
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Breathing problems
  • Wheezing or coughing
  • Pale gums
  • Eye discharge or swollen, red eyes
  • Nasal discharge
  • Inability to pass stools or urine


At PAVG, we are always committed to making sure your pet stays happy and healthy. If you have any additional questions about kitten care 101, please give us a call at our following locations:

Chillicothe: 309-273-1909

Dunlap: 309-439-9522

Dunlap II: 309-413-0527

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