Costs of Providing for Animals

3, 4, 5

Animal shelters rely on donations from the public to do their important work. Municipal shelters are funded by the municipality but are often underfunded. They often have non-profit arms that are funded by donations. This lesson will explore how these facilities are funded and the various services shelters provide for the community (spay & neutering, foster care for animals, educational programs, rehabilitating abused animals, microchip identification, advocacy for animal welfare).

PrintOne 45 minute class period

The learner will:

  • investigate some of the costs involved with running a shelter.
  • calculate the cost of keeping a pet andcompare that to the cost of running a shelter.
  • investigate ways in which shelters are funded.
  • One copy for each group of learners of Handout One: How much does it Cost to Keep One Pet? Worksheet
  • Chart paper or display board
  • Calculators (optional)

For additional related topics and materials:


  1. Anticipatory Set: As learners enter the class, have on display various items that are needed to take care of a pet. These items can be on display for any amount of time before teaching this lesson. Be sure to include food, bedding, blankets, towels, cat litter and toys for several types of common pets. Allow the learners to speculate among themselves on what the class is going to do with the items on display. Begin this lesson by reminding the learners that all animals need the same basic things that humans need to live. Ask: “What do you think those needs are?” (Food, clean water, shelter, love, and medical care) Ask them to share any information that they learned from their discussion with their families about animal shelters in the community.

  2. Ask: “What do you think we are going to do with these items? How much money do you think all of these things cost?”

  3. Tell the learners that today they are going to discover how much it could cost to have a pet and take care of it.

  4. Arrange the learners in groups. Distribute one copy of Handout One: How Much Does it Cost to Keep One Pet? Worksheet for each group of learners.

  5. Go over the directions and information in the handout to be sure that the learners understand the numbers listed and how to use the worksheet.

  6. Using the dollar amounts listed on the attachment, ask the learners to calculate the cost of caring for one animal. Remind the learners that the figures on the attachment are estimates or average costs. Allow time for the groups to share their totals.

  7. Teacher Note: This part of the activity may be as in depth a math lesson as you feel is appropriate for your learners. Older learners may do the math using pencil and paper. A calculator may be used to check the addition of the learners.

  8. Tell them that now they are going to look a little deeper into the cost of caring for animals at an animal shelter and will be working with higher numbers. (Adapt this to the level that best meets the needs and abilities of your learners)

  9. Have the learners use the information contained in Handout One to calculate the cost of having 5 of the same pet; 10 of the same pet; 20 of the same pet. (These multiples may be as high as you feel is appropriate for you learners. This may need to be a whole class activity for younger learners.)

  10. Create word problems for the learners to solve using the information contained in the worksheet. An example might be: You and your family have decided to donate 6 food or water bowls to the local animal shelter. The cost of one bowl is $5.00 at the local pet store. What will the total cost be for purchasing 6 bowls to donate?

  11. Teacher’s Note: If the learners have discovered how many cats and or dogs are housed at the local animal shelter, they might calculate the cost of housing them using the information calculated on the worksheet.

  12. In a closing discussion, guide the learners to the conclusion that just like taking care of a pet at home, animal shelters need many of the same things to care for the animals that are waiting for homes.

  13. Tell them that animal shelters have many more costs besides food, bedding and toys. Ask: “What other things do you think animal shelters would have to pay for?” (Electricity, water, salary of people managing the shelter, fuel cost for automobiles, services of a veterinarian)

  14. Ask: “How do you think animal shelters get the money to pay for all of those costs?” (Shelters rely on donations of money and items from members of the community to help them meet the costs of taking care of the animals. Some shelters also receive money from municipal taxes.)


Assessment for this lesson will be based on the learners’ class participation and the accuracy of the information calculated on the worksheet. The math used in Handout One may be use as an assessment also.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.