Rescue Pets Are Priceless, Not Free
You can’t put a price tag on saving an animal’s life, or on the relationship you have with them. However, adopting one still requires you to dig out your checkbook. Some people are surprised at the cost of a group’s adoption fee (or that there is a donation fee at all). They expect it to be minimal because, after all, the pets aren’t ‘for sale’ anyway. Unfortunately, rescue groups are non-profit, always on limited funds, and without donation fees from adopting families, we would go under in no time.
What Donation Fees Cover
Some potential adopters have the mindset that adopting an animal is basically doing us, the rescue group, a ‘favor’ and therefore we should be grateful, and not ask for fees. Remember that in rescue no one is out to make a profit. In most cases, we barely break even. Adoption fees cover (barely) our basic costs, such as: spay/neuter, vaccinations (first vaccines for kittens/puppies require multiple boosters), deworming and flea treatment, testing for diseases such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus in cats or heart-worm in dogs) as well as food and litter. If you were to get these services done at a veterinary clinic, you’d be spending significantly more. When adopting from a rescue group, you’re really getting a packaged deal and saving money in the long run.
Why No Pet Should be Free
Having adoption fees is important, aside from the fact that they cover a rescue’s expenses. Most people won’t dole out that kind of cash unless they’ve been planning to adopt and have considered the weight of the commitment. This deters ‘impulse’ adopters, and reminds people that being a pet guardian is a serious dedication- monetarily, emotionally, physically, and timely- and should not be done spur of the moment. If someone has trouble affording the adoption fee, it might not be a good time for them to adopt. Of course, you don’t need mountains of money to be a great, loving pet parent, but you do need to be realistic about the costs and be able to meet those requirements to keep the pet in good health for the rest of his or her life.
It is also worth mentioning, however unpleasant it is, that donation fees help prevent animal abusers from obtaining animals from rescue groups. Usually (but not always) people who intend to abuse an animal will search for free ones- especially on Craiglist and from ‘free to good home’ ads in neighborhoods and bulletin boards.
Why Fees Can Vary by Rescue
If you’ve been browsing various shelters and rescues in your search for the perfect new addition, you might have noticed differences in the costs and what is covered. This doesn’t mean that one group is better than another, just that each organization is in a different financial situation, and works on different scales. Therefore, they adjust the fees to their needs. For example, a large, county-wide shelter with in-staff veterinarians is typically able to have lower fees because they do higher volume adoptions, get donations that exceed their costs, and aren’t paying someone else for veterinary services. They might have sponsors, and likely have a larger staff that includes a grant writer to get state and national grants. Smaller, foster based organizations like Pet Adoption Network, have fewer volunteers, no paid staff, no physical facility. Therefore, our fees may not always compete with other shelters. However, you’re getting a great deal, in terms of savings, in either scenario along with a ‘priceless’ happy ending.