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Why isn't it FREE to adopt a shelter pet?

You gape in disbelief as the shelter manager explains to you that there is a fee charged to adopt the teeny little kitten or the hapless mutt you have decided to call your own.

What? I have to pay to rescue this cat (or dog)?

Your disbelief is not necessarily unfounded: You decided to adopt a pet after seeing an article about how overcrowded your local shelter is. You couldn’t stand the thought of all those kittens in cages, all those grown cats waiting for their homes, and this one particular dog who had been at the shelter so long she had stopped eating. Shelter staff implored the public to “Adopt, not shop,” and yet they wouldn’t just give you one of the animals they had so beseechingly convinced you to save?

This is a common scene played out at shelters and rescues across the country each day. Sometimes, potential adopters calmly listen to the reasoning behind this adoption fee. Other times they storm out in a righteous huff. And sometimes shelter staff becomes defensive, letting personal feelings or the strain of the job dictate the tone of their explanation. Here’s what all potential adopters should understand about shelter adoption fees:

It costs an enormous amount of money to care for all the animals.

Vet bills for healthy animal vaccinations quickly add up while vet bills for sick or injured animals are equivalent to a financial hemorrhage. And since any reputable shelter will claw and scrape its way through to saving animals in its care, those bills happen more often than you’d think. Veterinarians will often provide medical care at a discount. Shelters could not survive without these generous acts, but discounted care still runs into the thousands, and the money has to come from somewhere.

Speaking of vet care – have you looked into what it costs to spay or neuter a cat or dog? How about regular vaccinations, health exams, and blood work? Cha-ching! Now look at the adoption fee you are being asked to pay. See the difference? The adoption fee is far less than what it would cost you to pay, when you take that animal for the same care.

We need your adoption fee to help us keep helping the animals.

Direct animal care is a hefty portion of our expenses, but not the entire need. Building maintenance/repair and staff payroll complete the trifecta of shelter expenses. While we would all like to offer salaries reflective of the dedication and impact our shelter staffs display, the unfortunate reality is that we don’t even come close. More often than not, shelter employees show up every day because they are passionate about what they do, not because they are being well paid. We love them for that.

A tour of our shelter will reveal the motivation behind our pleas for financial donations as well as our required adoption fees. We would love to have more options for our cats to get out of their cages and our dogs to have bigger runs. See the bumps in that kennel floor and the shingles coming off that roof? Help!

Currently, our shelter is depleting its financial reserves at a frightening rate.

Your adoption fees most likely don't even cover the expenses for the pet you chose. And yet, it still alleviates some of the monthly deficit our shelter operates under.

Fundraising efforts are constantly underway and we always appreciate donations.

We are grateful to all of our adopters for rescuing a pet. We want you to know you are making a difference not only in that animal's life but in our shelter's ability to continue its work. We are happy to answer any questions you may have and offer scheduled behind the scenes tours to anyone who becomes a member.

Thank you for your understanding and support.

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