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Friday, March 23, 2012

Cost of Adopting

I have people ask me from time to time about adopting a pet and the fees and procedure involved. I thought I would write a few words to help people in the process and to understand the difference between a city shelter and a rescue and the costs involved. 

Matisse adopted at a small town shelter for $25. He came with his first set of shots- follow up shots and the neutering were my responsibility. He lived a long and healthy life and he recently passed away. 
When you go to adopt you have many choices. A great place to start looking is You can look at the dogs and cats from the privacy of your own home. If you are seeking a specific breed you can put in what you are looking for and you will be given a list and photos of the shelters and rescues near you that have that breed. You can narrow your choices by breed and/or age and I suggest to people to take some time and become familiar with what is available .. and to look at the information on the rescues who post them. Not all rescues list on Petfinder so you can always do a google search. One very important thing is that all rescues and shelters should be very clear on their sites about the adoption fee and what it covers. I always tell people that if they see a shelter or rescue who lists dogs/cats and is not upfront about the adoption fee.. that they should look elsewhere. 

Bella Bear Shoe Eating Poodle of the Everglades - she was a "free" dog - she came from a backyard breeder and was the most expensive dog I have ever taken in. It cost over 1k in vet care and grooming to get her out of the horrible state she was in. Please keep in mind that rescues may charge more- but they also, often times, put in large amounts of money to help injured and abused animals... and most rescues rely on donations and do not receive financial help from the city or state... and keep in mind that free pets can be very very expensive. 

You will notice a big difference in the adoption fees of a city shelter versus a rescue group. At Miami Dade Animal Services (where I have been going to take many pictures for my work) the adoption fee is $65 for an adult dog - $75 for a puppy and $35 for a cat or kitten with 2 for one on the cats. Their fee covers age appropriate shots, heartworm or FIV test, spay or neuter (if age appropriate) and a microchip. If you are familiar with the cost of those services, you will see that the adoption fee is a very good bargain. Rescues will vary greatly in adoption fees. Some places may be very low in their fee and some may be several hundred dollars. Many rescues take in dogs/cats that require medical care and some of the higher fees help offset the costs incurred. If you spend more with a rescue you should expect to be adopting a dog or cat that has had all needed medical care given and one that has been highly evaluated in regards to compatibility with the potential adopter. You may find that some rescues charge larger amounts for pure bred animals because they are in higher demand. 

Sylvia Miami Tiger Dog of the Atlantic and Beula Jenkins Opossum Giving Dog were both adopted from MDAS - Sylvia as a puppy for $75 and Beula as an adult at $65. They both were adopted spayed and had shots. Sylvia did have a URI and I was able to have her treated with antibiotics - her treatment was less than $100. Beula was perfectly healthy when I adopted her. Always take your adopted dog for a check up after you get them home- vets often times give a discounted first visit or even free visit for newly adopted pets. 

One rescue that I worked with in the past had an adoption fee of just over $100 per animal. They specialize in injured and abused animals and considering the money put into the animals the fee was an amazing deal. Rescues should not be skimping on care- often times they take animals from busy city shelters and many times take in animals with health issues. A rescue should never adopt out sick or injured animals. Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous people who use rescue as a way to make money. If anyone ever tries to adopt out an unaltered animal do not work with them- if they try to adopt out one that has no medical record do not work with them- if they are more interested in the money than the animal do not work with them. 
Sir Nigel Longbottom Ferocious Chihuahua of the East was  adopted from a rural shelter for less than $100. He was fixed and had all shots. He does have problems with his knees and he is kind of weird. He was about 8 years old when I adopted him- do not overlook the older ones! He is at least 14 years old now and I have the feeling he might live forever. Some rescues and shelters have special programs for senior pets who are adopted by seniors. If you are a senior - please look into senior specials- too many times people dump off elderly pets and they are rarely adopted. 

City shelters are easier to adopt from. I have never been to one where there is much checking into the adopter at all. I have adopted from 3 shelters and, in each, I have always just shown my license and filled out a form. It was a quick and easy process. At a city shelter there are so many animals that the adopter is often not given much information on the dog or cat. Some workers or volunteers may have spent time with the animal and may write on their cage card if they have some insight as to their behavior- but, for the most part, you are on your own. With a rescue they should have a much better idea of the animal's behavior- especially one where they use fosters and the animals are kept in a home. For some people the higher price that some rescues charge is worth it because it is easier to get an idea of how the animal reacts to other animals, children, cats, etc. However, rescues may be harder to adopt through. Some require references and home checks- any good rescue who has invested time and money into a dog or cat and is charging higher fees should be particular about who they are adopting to. As I mentioned before, if the rescue is more concerned about the money and less about the welfare of the animal do not work with them. 

Basically if you adopt from a city shelter you may spend less, but have less guidance. If you adopt from a rescue you may spend more, but have more guidance. When you adopt in a shelter you should be able to walk through the shelter- any good rescue will allow you to walk through their facility if they have one. Please be wary of any that will not. In the end make sure that when you adopt - wether it be at a large shelter or a rescue group- that you can afford a pet. Make sure that you are adopting one that suits you and not just getting one that "looks" cool or is the popular breed at the moment. Look for a dog or cat that is healthy and likes you as much as you like them. No matter what you pay- you want to find the best pet for you and that is more important than anything.. and remember do not adopt from any group who is not fixing their animals and/or giving health records! 

Adoption saves lives .. adopting is not only a very ethical thing to do- but, it can also be a very smart financial decision when it comes to spending on a new pet. I see purebred animals at the shelter on a regular basis. At MDAS I have seen many English Bulldogs- a person could buy one for over $1,000 or they could save one for $65. 

Art created from one of the many images I have taken of purebred animals at the shelter. People pay big money for some breeds- yet, I see some- like this bulldog - at the shelter all the time. Not all of them are adopted either. Purebred dogs do die in shelters all the time. Please consider saving one. 

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