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10 August 2011


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We tend to vary our adoption fees, but these are generally discounted for more difficult-to-place pups.

Charging higher than average fees for certain breeds bothers me, however - even worse are the people in my area who charge more for puppies and then to top it off don't bother to speuter them either.

We have a lot of groups here who are fronts for puppy brokers as well, so I generally advise potential adopters to avoid rescues that engage in these fishy practices.

As for those that charge more for special needs dogs - I've never heard of that. Logic says you're stacking the deck in the wrong direction.

John Schiff

Varying fees send a message that one dog's life is worth more than another's. Teacup chihuahuas, $500. Mutts, good condition, $250. Pit bulls, now marked down to $25...

Costs should be evenly distributed among all adoption fees, just as insurance risk is distributed among all members of a rating pool. Then no one animal is penalized for needing extra care, and no one breed is elevated above another.

A dog is a blessing, no matter what the breed, and it sends the wrong message to single out animals with either a discounted or a premium fee.

H. Houlahan

Same as in town Father, two-hundred bux. Please.

A neuter deposit for puppies, because we don't believe in infant sterilization. Often the adopters will say "keep it, it's a donation."

And less or nothing for the special needs dogs who are near the end of their lifespans or will require more veterinary care.

Why should an adopter care that we spent a lot on one dog and not a lot on another?

The "cheap" rescues subsidize the expensive ones, and all are subsidized by fundraising and donations, cuz it shor nuff costs more than $200 per to do what we do.

Barbara Saunders

I don't consider these pricing schemes to be "more professional" or "business-like" at all. The branding is poor. The messaging offends many people. In my opinion, the strategy ultimately makes fundraising more difficult, as it confuses people about the real costs and needs of operating the organization - and even about the vision.

I agree with the commentator who suggested offering special needs dogs for lower or no fees, to acknowledge that the adopter is taking on known costs for treatment and special care. Other than that, I think the message needs to be something like, "We facilitate moving pets who have lost their homes into new homes. Your adoption fees help us do everything involved in that: food, medical care, shelter, transport, getting the word out."

Individual pricing conjures up an entirely different model of business operation, a store that holds goods for sale rather than well, a very rough analogy would be a school, where every student might require slightly different input but where the "whole" is the real unit that's needs funding.

Norma S.

We have set fees for dogs, puppies, cats and kittens. Puppies and kittens are higher. However, if an animal has been in the shelter a long time, we lower the fee, or in the case of cats, we often have a cat sale (near the end of the summer). I know that some places charge more for pit bulls. We do not.

Nancy Freedman-Smith (@Gooddogz)

The rescue I work with has a scale that slides at times. So many of the dogs come up from the South to the tune of a transport fee of about $150 a dog, and if the dog is sponsored then the fee is less. It is usually between 275 and 325. Older harder to place dogs are less, and owner surrenders are less to. I can see your point that people may not understand why some dogs are different prices.


If someone came to me and said a rescue group was charging $275 or $325 for a pet, I'd tell them I thought the group was a scam and they should look somewhere else.

This has nothing to do with it being "too expensive," because I'd personally donate at least $500 for any pet I adopted, more if the pet didn't seem like she or he would have any major expenses in the short term.

It has to do with how that group would compare to other groups in how it funds itself, and, when that fee is very much higher, the general suspicion everyone has about outliers.

This discussion reminds me of a similar one with veterinarians who complain about people saying they're too expensive and offer the high cost of equipment, staff, student loans, etc as a reason people should not object to their prices.

The argument is true as far as it goes, just as is the one that a rescue group is setting its adoption fees because of how much it COSTS the group to transport, vet, and care for a pet. But ultimately things can't be priced at what they cost to bring them to market when that cost isn't reflected in the value people perceive in them.

I'm not saying that adopted pets aren't "worth" $325; they're priceless. What I'm saying is that the "value-added" of the rescue group to the adopter doesn't flucuate based on what it costs for the rescue group to bring the pet "to market."

So a rescue group's challenge is either to change that perception of value, or compete with price and replace the revenue with fundraising instead of fees.

I'd be ethically FAR more comfortable with the second. I really would have a very hard time adopting from a group that was charging that kind of an adoption fee EVEN THOUGH I WOULD HAND OVER MORE MONEY WHEN I ADOPTED THE PET ANYWAY.

I think it's a very bad "business" model.


It's unfortunate that there are shelters with fees based on breed and basically saying purebreds or certain breeds are better than others. In my opinion, this does nothing but reinforce the message that breeders spread: "buy a purebred...they are better than mutts!"

Our Humane Society has the same fee for all adult dogs ($65) and the same for puppies ($75), regardless of breed or who has already been sp/n, shots, etc. All dogs are created equal! :)

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