Why Do Shelters And Rescues Charge An Adoption Fee?

You've decided to check local animal shelters for your next pet. Congratulations! You are likely to find a wonderful companion animal and save a life. But you may wonder why the costs to adopt from some shelters and rescues seems exorbitant - in some cases, over $100. Why do shelters charge a fee, anyway?

What Costs Need to Be Covered for Adoptable Pets?

You'd be surprised to know how much goes into getting a pet ready for a new home. Many animal shelters and rescues have a veterinarian examine adoptable animals before they are available for new homes. This helps catch any health and wellness issues before they become big and expensive problems. When a vet isn't available, a qualified veterinary technician will conduct a thorough exam.

In addition to any veterinary care, pets are given vaccinations and treatment for heartworm, fleas, ticks and other pests. Because many animals are surrendered without full health histories or found as strays, no one knows what -- if any -- vaccines they have received.

Those animals that are intact are spayed or neutered so they don't contribute to a pet overpopulation problem. Some shelters aren't able to take care of the operation, so they have adopting families sign a contract promising to get the spay/neuter done though their veterinarian.

Once you calculate what it would cost to have to do all the medical care on a "free" pet -- such as one you would get from an online classified ad -- you'll realize that shelter animals are a pretty good deal. Many additionally include a free or reduced cost initial vet exam so you can establish a relationship between a veterinarian in the community and your new companion.

Why are the Adoption Fees for Some Pets Higher than Others?

Adoption fees may reflect a number of things, such as whether the pet has been spayed or neutered already. If you are expected to shoulder that cost, the fee is usually less.

Some shelters also have programs where highly desirable animals, such as puppies or kittens, or purebreds, have higher adoption fees to support those pets less likely to find homes right away.

Finally, some shelters give a discount for adopting an older pet or an animal with special needs.

What Other Things Do Adoption Fees Pay For?

While many shelters and rescues rely on donations from the community to help with operating costs, part of every adoption fee goes toward the expenses of keeping the shelter open and providing for the animals' care. Some of these expenses include:

  • Food. Shelters try to feed the highest quality pet food possible to improve animals' coats and energy levels. Some pets also have allergies to fillers in pet food.
  • Shelter costs. Payroll costs for employees and utility costs to keep the lights on are just a couple of the expenses that shelters have, just to stay open.

Your local shelter or rescue staff are likely going to be happy to answer any questions you have about their standards of care and why adoption fees are set where they are. Consider making a donation on top of your adoption fee if you are financially able, as that can help less fortunate animals in your community.

Talk to experts like Pilot Knob Animal Hospital for more information.