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Sticker Shock- Why is it so expensive to adopt?

“Two hundred twenty- five dollars for a dog no one wants?”

These annoyed words were preceded by the slamming of the front door to our humane society, moments before the three would-be adopters piled into their car and departed in a righteous huff.

Clearly, we’d lost an opportunity to place one of our amazing dogs in a loving home – or had we?

Every caring person who works at a humane society wants nothing more than to see the critters we all come to love find the homes they deserve. It breaks our hearts to see sad eyes longingly staring through kennel doors, day after day and sometimes month after month, as the sweet faces are passed by. We ache almost as much as they do, for the day they will take a ride home with their new family. So why don’t we throw them into the arms of people who declare they want them? Why don’t we give them away for free or, at most, a smaller fee?

I’ll tell you why.

First – two hundred twenty five dollars may seem like a lot to ask, but let’s break it down: You are adopting a dog that has been vaccinated and spayed/neutered. If you were to pay full price for that on your own, it would be well over that amount. Yes, if you are a savvy pet owner, and take advantage of the low cost clinics in your area, you will pay less. Consider the difference to be a much needed donation.

Your dog may be new to you, but most likely has been with us for weeks or months. We have housed and fed that dog. We have lovingly taken him to our vet to treat the condition he arrived in. We have spayed or neutered him or her, and we have dedicated every available staff moment to taking him for walks and working on instilling basic manners. Or we have simply taken the time to throw a ball for a happy game of fetch, or strolled along the river- anything we can to break up the monotony and stress of the days and nights in a loud kennel.

It is our passion to care for these animals, so we’re not complaining. We are merely explaining the nuts and bolts of the reality of shelter life. Most shelters depend on fundraising and donations for survival. Ours is no exception. It is a tough world, and with so many people struggling just to support themselves and their families, there is little left over for donations. And the competition for donations is its own struggle for survival, as one worthy cause after another vies for help.

Next- Anyone who owns a home, or has owned a home, can relate to the constant onslaught of maintenance and repair costs. Imagine a building that houses hundreds or thousands of animals each year. The wear and tear, the importance of cleaning, and the desire to make our animals’ accommodations safe yet comfortable for them. We are fortunate to have a large yard area where we can exercise our dogs, and a screened-in outdoor recreation area for our cats to take turns in. But these must be maintained, and that is not free.

Last- Adopting an animal is not just cute, it is a commitment. And it can be an expensive one. If an adoption fee is not in your budget, have you truly considered the costs of caring for a pet; regular vaccinations, food, pet care while you are on vacation, and emergency vet bills when your best buddy has an accident or becomes ill? At any given time, one or more of our animals is here because their heartbroken owners could no longer afford to care for them. This fee is a good gauge for you to determine your affordability factor.

We are grateful to all those who adopt our animals and give them the loving homes they deserve. We are here for them, should they fall upon hard times and turn back to us to resume caring for that pet, and find them another home. We have the privilege of hearing back from many of our adopters with updates on their pets, and these updates are a huge boost to our morale as we push through the harder parts of the job every day. If you would like a pet but cannot afford to adopt, we encourage you to volunteer, or ask about fostering animals, or become involved in other ways as you wait for the right time in your life to take one of our babies home. None of our animals are unwanted. The right person is coming for them. Maybe one day, it will be you.

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