Shelter on the Hill: A Humane Society

Adoption Fees

Dog & Cat Adoption Fees Explained
A common question among dog adopters is why are adoption fees so high? Shouldn't adopting a pet be free, or at least super cheap? To these people most shelters can only say, remember, you get what you pay for.

When you purchase a purebred dog or cat from a breeder you may be paying anywhere from $500 to over $1000 or more but often that's all your getting for that cost is the pet and maybe it's first vaccinations. When you adopt a pet from a shelter, your adoption fees are going to pay towards the cost of care your adopted dog or cat has received while at the shelter. Here is a break down of what a good shelter has already put into your pet before you even adopt.

Spay & Neuter
The average cost for veterinary care varies greatly depending on your geographical location (city vs. country), the size of the size and age of the animal requiring care, as well as their overall picture of health and how it influences the complexity of treatments. That said, the average spay or neuter can range from $45-$175 for an animal shelter. However, this doesn't include the cost of pain relief medication that the shelter will also be responsible, which is another $10-$30 dollars. If you were to get your adopted cat or dog spayed or neutered on your own it could cost you anywhere from $200-$500 plus depending on said variables.

The cost of intake vaccinations for dogs to prevent Distemper, Parvo, Kennel Cough as well as rabies can cost approximately $50 for the animal shelter, if not more. In cats, the suggested intake vaccines are feline distemper (panleukopenia), feline viral rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus, and feline leukemia.If your adopted animal has been in the shelter for a few months they've most likely received a monthly booster to keep them safe from shelter related illness. If you were to pay for these vaccinations yourself you could be paying anywhere from $30 to $200.

Parasite Treatments & Preventatives
Monthly flea tick and ear mite treatments as well as heartworm preventives are another monthly cost for animal shelters. De-wormer medications are often given preventatively as opposed to waiting to see evidence of worms. These treatments can cost approximately $15-$50 assuming that no labs are need. Lyme disease and heartworm and giardia tests are also another cost the shelter may incur to ensure that your pet is in good health. If a dog tests positive, Lyme disease treatment can cost anywhere from $20-$100 depending on the size of the dog. However, if a dog needs to be treated for heartworms the treatment can be extremely costly, and on average it's at least $1000 if you were to pay for it yourself.

A good shelter will not allow their animals to leave the premise without first being microchipped. Although a lot of pet owners insist that their adopted dog or cat will never get lost, shelters see it happen all the time - whether it be as a result of a natural disaster, an unfortunate accident, or the meter reader leaving the gate open. The cost for a shelter to microchip their animals is approximately $25. However, the cost to microchip your dog on your own can range anywhere from $50-$70.

Food, Shelter & Comfort The cost to feed a dog or a cat for a month in an animal shelter can range greatly based on the needs of the animals in the shelter, but a general ballpark estimate is round $40-$75. This does not include special diets for pets that need food for specific digestive needs. (FYI kittens are very expensive - good nutrition costs $1.50 per day per kitten so just one litter of 4 can easily top $50 a month.) Then there are toys, treats, bedding, kitty litter and other necessities that the shelter provides.

Extreme Conditions
If your adopted pet is on anti anxiety medication, eye drops, or other antibiotics the shelter will try to recoup the cost from the adoption fees as well. This also includes X-rays, echo cardiograms and other specialized treatments. This means part of your dog adoption fees will go towards animals that need additional care even if your adopted dog or cat was lucky enough to have a clean bill of health.

Some animal shelters will provide you with a bag of food to go home with so you can slowly adjust your new pet to they brand you've chose to feed them. Collars, ID tags, and leashes may also be worked into the adoption fees. If you've adopted an animal that was transferred from one region or shelter to another, the cost for the transportation might be added into your dog adoption fee.

Remember most non-profit organizations do not receive any kind of government funding. Dog and cat adoption fees make caring for the animals in the shelter possible. But the regular day-to-day operations like building utilities (gas, water, electricity, telephone) laundry and cleaning supplies, trash pick-up, the cost for animal shelter agents, veterinary staff, etc., gets paid for by the shelter's ability to fundraise and acquire donations rather than through adoption fees for the animals.