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7 Reasons Why Adoption Fees Are Not Greedy

Are Adoption Fees Greedy? I posted a video yesterday on the Recycled Dog Faceboook page where The Daily Show was making an amusing mockery of puppy mills. The video also likened, in jest, the new regulations required by the recent passing of Prop B in Missouri which requires puppy mills to actually provide adequate food, water, space and veterinary care to their animals to a socialist movement. Celebrity dog trainer Cesar Milan – The Dog Whisperer also appeared in a candid scene in the video.

The actual reason for referencing the video is to refer to a scene where the reporter comments “If I adopt a dog from a shelter, I am not going to understand the value of the dog because I didn’t pay for it.” This, unfortunately, is another misnomer in the world of dog rescue. So the question asked very often is, “why is there an adoption fee for a shelter or rescue dog?” The dog is homeless why not just give it to a good home? Lots of reasons.

Why is there an adoption fee for a shelter or rescue dog?

Here are 7 reasons why dog adoption fees are a necessity and not just a greedy ploy by the shelter or rescue:

  1. Adoption fees actually protect the animals by placing them with committed families.  Over the lifetime of a pet, the average cost of veterinary care is approximately $3000. If the cost of an adoption fee is not affordable, it is likely that those veterinary checkups will not be affordable either – not to mention unavoidable accidents or any potential illness. Perhaps passing on a companion pet makes more sense until the adoptive family’s finances are in better order.
  2. Adoption fees reduce the number of animals used for fighting or lab experimentation. Thanks (or no thanks) to Michael Vick, we are all painfully aware of the dog fighting industry. Free animals become easy targets for dog fighting and lab experimentation simply because the dog’s life has been given no monetary value.
  3. Adoption fees pay for transportation, veterinary costs, and food while at the shelter or rescue.  Believe it or not, people don’t get into animal rescue for the money. Rehoming an animal is an expensive, volunteer intensive activity. Rarely does the the adoption fee cover the expenses related to the care and transportation of the animal prior to its adoption.
  4. Free dogs become disposable dogs. It’s unfortunate, but many people don’t recognize the value of the living, breathing soul they have taken in their homes and essentially taken responsibility for. A dog that has not been associated with a monetary value, is many times more likely to be disposed of at a shelter or elsewhere or simply allowed to walk away stray.
  5. Unlike municipal shelters, most private shelters and rescue groups are not subsidized by local government contracts. Local municipalities will often offer large contracts for their animal control services to larger shelters which helps offset the cost of care of many of the animals. Private shelters and rescue groups are less likely to have access to these contracts and funds and therefore must operate solely on adoption fees, grants and donations.
  6. While the dog you adopt may be perfectly healthy, another dog may not be so lucky. We have had several dogs come through Colorado Animal Welfare League that required emergency surgery (amputations, gunshot wound to head). While you may wonder how this impacts you as a potential adopter, shelters and rescues typically then offer these animals at a reduced adoption fee, thus requiring the veterinary bills to be spread across the adoption fees of the healthy animals.
  7. Adoption fees actually offer you, the new pet owner, a great deal on a fabulous new companion! Let’s look at the costs associated with a puppy bought from a breeder or a pet store – all paid by you: $400-$3000 for the puppy; $200 for booster shots from the vet, $250 for spay/$150 for neuter; and approximately $200 in others tests such as fecal, bloodwork, parvo, and heartworm (not including heartworm medication). In case you didn’t add this up, you are looking at $950-$3650. This makes an adoption fee of $75-300 for a sterilized, healthy, up-to-date on shots dog look like chump change – doesn’t it?

It is unfortunate that the general public’s impression of adoption fees is for monetary gain alone. As I watched Santa Buddies with my son the other night, I was disappointed once again to see the “dog catcher” portrayed as the bad guy who was too greedy to give the puppy away for free to the forlorn, down-on-his-luck man who just wanted to give his son a dog for Christmas.

Our job in rescue is to rehome companion animals by finding the most responsible family that best fits the needs of that pet to reduce the number of animals returned into the rescue system. If we were greedy, perhaps we would throw in a ponzi scheme here or there. For most of us, its just another long, hard volunteer day doing what we love best – saving the animals.

NOTE: Please request rehoming fees in your advertisement if you must find a new home for your pet yourself to protect your dog or cat!!!

6 comments to 7 Reasons Why Adoption Fees Are Not Greedy

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  • Kim Fox

    I totally agree with adoption fees providing they are not excessive. My sister is a foster home to 6 cats and 5 dogs and she pays to feed them and drives them to and from the vet for care. Some of the pets have been severely abused and a lot of love and care goes into their recovery. One dog had acid thrown on it and was severely burned, it was awful but, with lots of care he recovered beautifully and she ended up adopting it herself.

  • Beth Lazar

    How awful for the dog with the acid thrown on it. Your sister is great person for fostering animals. It can definitely be a tough job in some situations, but so rewarding as well. Thanks for your comments Kim!

  • I have owned purebred and “Heinz 57″/shelter dogs since I was a teenager and I am now 54 years old. From my experience with both types, I think the shelter animals have such a THANKFUL disposition once adopted that NEVER goes away. THAT is something that can’t be taught (or bred) into an animal and something that is worth ALL the $$$$$ in the world – in fact, I think it leads to a better perspective about MONEY and how important (or not ) it really is in life as to where your priorities lie. I have always had shelter cats and they have given me the most rewarding, memorable times that I still to this day have reminders of. The $$ spent on a shelter animal is money well INVESTED in a loving, appreciative and memorable relationship that you just can’t understand unless you make that commitment.

  • Michele

    Hi, I am very interested in adoption from your website. I currently have a 16 year old cairn terrier that has some health issues. He has a brain tumor that caused a major seizure about 2 months ago. He doing well for right now and seems to be happy at least from what I can see his tail keeps wagging that I use as an indicator. He (Mr. Whiskers) is glued to my hip so he is better as the only dog in the home. My question when the time comes for me to adopt I would need to find a cairn to adopt close to Michigan. My intentions would be to drive to pick up my new dog. In the past I had to put my dog on a plane and will never do it again the little thing had the shacks so bad deplanning I’ll never do it again.

  • Pat Bishop

    I just lost my best friend, Gannon, who was adopted from Col. Potter in 2007. It has left such a big hole in my heart. Pre-adoption:
    I had a home visit and my little guy traveled many miles to Detroit, where I picked him up myself, from Irons, MI. We had about 8 years together…I needed 80. Such a perfect little man. The fees are worth it ten times over. Not quite ready to adopt again, but when I am, I will come right back to Col. Potter.

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