"Are Rescue Adoption Fees Too High?"

Every Rescuer has heard it. The argument that if we really cared about finding "Good Homes" we would give the dogs away. There are folks who will tell us they could go to a pet shop and purchase a dog for just a little more than the adoption fee. So what is the adoption fee paying for?

ARE RESCUE FEES TOO HIGH? The assumption that Rescue is a business, or that Rescuer's make a profit from suffering could not be further from the truth. While not all Rescue Groups are created equally, regardless of the size or breed of dog you are looking for, most will ask for a donation to adopt ranging from $100 to $450. If a Rescue Group takes in a healthy pet that costs a minimal amount to make ready for adoption, the "profit" from that animal is applied to the vetting costs of the many others who are not as fortunate.

When a dog comes into Rescue, funds must be spent on neutering/spaying, teeth cleaning (if needed), vaccinations, (Rabies, DHLPP, Bordetella), screening for Heartworms and a fecal test. Vetting expenses on a healthy animal can run as high as $225 and more with the larger breeds. The truth is the majority of found/stray/rescues DO require additional vetting. Worming is almost always a necessity. Rescuers routinely treat Heartworm positive animals, pay to set broken bones, treat illnesses and injuries---providing treatment the original owners either didn't choose to or could not afford. Rescuers may do whatever is necessary and it can often take several months to return an animal to good health. It is not unusual for the costs of this care to run from $450-$1000 per dog.

Most Rescuers do this without benefit of financial backing or resources, choosing to spend money in saving lives, rather than on themselves. I do not know of any Rescue group that makes a profit, or comes anywhere close to breaking even.

Rescuers will foster these animals in their homes, making them part of the family while providing care and training. The animals will be screened for behavioral and health issues, have those issues addressed, and every attempt is made to make the best possible match with adopting families. Rescuers spend hours on the computer each day seeking the perfect home, help for a dog, or transport from shelter to Rescue or Rescue to a forever home. Setting up transports for these animals may take weeks to arrange, and require hundreds of e-mails. Phone bills are frequently outrageous, as Rescuers still find it necessary to call shelters and vets that lack e-mail capabilities, to interview prospective adopters and check their references.

"I COULD GO TO THE PET STORE AND GET A PAPERED PUPPY." Yes, one could go to a Pet Store to purchase a papered Pup for a little more [more likely a LOT more] than the donation a Rescue Group may request---and be responsible for encouraging the Puppy Mill industry to flourish. Perhaps there are those who are unaware of the conditions that these animals are born to? Perhaps the thought of that sweet puppy's mother living out her entire life confined to a cage, covered in mange, and barely able to stand does not trouble some folks. 

However, even if the plight of the pup's mother didn't concern them, if their motivation was to save a few dollars---they would be woefully misinformed. Pet store pups are notorious for costing their owners--not just in the funds to cope with the many health problems, but emotionally--as many owners fight a losing battle with bad genetics, compromised immune systems, and unstable temperaments. 

Prospective Pet Owners could also seek a Reputable Breeder, pay $500-1,000 for a puppy and, IF they are responsible Pet Owners, they would still need to spend the funds to properly vet their new pet (to neuter, vaccinate, etc.).

IF YOU REALLY CARED ABOUT THESE DOGS AND TRULY CARED IF THEY FOUND FOREVER HOMES YOU WOULD CHARGE NOTHING." Rescuers care enough to provide for these dogs when their original owners did not, to screen homes, to invest their hearts, time, and personal funds. Rescuers care enough to know that if someone cannot afford a nominal donation for adoption it is likely that person would also be unable to provide proper veterinary care for the animal Rescue has loved to health. Rescuers care enough to have researched and know what happens to those "free to a good home" pets - the neglect, abuse and abandonment that these animals, deemed of no value, will suffer. (See FREE TO A GOOD HOME?) We care enough that we cannot be governed by expenses.

The idea that Rescuers make a profit hurts the thousands of Rescuers who are trying, with all they are worth, to make a difference. There are more than enough misconceptions about Breed Rescues. (See Some Common Misconceptions About Breed Rescues.)

Owners always seem to have some excuse why they can't keep their pets. Please read The Top Ten Reasons for Pet Relinquishment to Shelters in the United States. How many seriously ill, old, or untrained dogs can Rescues take? Yet this is Rescue. Rescuers care for these animals, providing vetting and training---and then seek the best of all homes. The home that will love and cherish these animals.

Rescuers devote a lot of energy trying to close down the puppy mills and back yard breeders, the places that breed grief--that victimize the animals and the poor unsuspecting families that love and lose their beloved pets because of greed.

Most Rescuers drive old cars, repairs put on the back burner because yet another poor soul needs expensive vetting. Rescuers will do without things others probably take for granted---because money only goes so far and the number of animals needing help never diminishes. We take calls at all hours of the day and night. Why not--not a one of us sleeps well after the horrors we've seen--and when we do sleep, we hear the whimpering of those animals in our dreams. 


by Joan Freemo