When so many animals are homeless or need to be rehomed, many people question why adoption fees are charged, even by individuals. Adoption fees are still controversial to some people. Often they ask why adoption fees? Why do I have to pay if I can offer a home for an animal? Isn’t it better for a dog to be in a home, rather than languish in a shelter? Read on to find out why adoption fees are important and necessary.
While volunteering for a dog rescue and rehoming centre, I really did get an earful of these questions, especially when their application to adopt was rejected. Fair enough and I think it’s better that these issues and any contentions are voiced, rather than buried deep in someone’s ruminations.
I support adoption fees for several reasons.
1. Things that are free are not valued.
In a world that values materialism, anything that is offered without monetary exchange is somehow deemed inferior or less worthy by most people. Some of it may come from the fact that “nothing’s for free” is deeply ingrained into their psyche. Oftentimes free equates to disposable.
It’s been many shelters’ experience that when dogs are offered for free, decisions to adopt are made quickly, often too quickly. Bringing a dog into your life and home is not a lightly-taken decision, even for households who’ve always had dogs. Time changes. Situations change. People change. With every dog you are thinking to adopt, it’s a new decision process, albeit not the same lengthy one perhaps.
The adoption fee signifies this commitment to a life-long decision.
2. Having a dog costs money.
It may seem elitist to allow those with money to have dogs but the truth is having a dog costs money. There’s an extra mouth to feed, among other ongoing costs such as vaccinations and licensing which are in most parts of the world required by law. Unforeseen costs such as emergency vet bills (some dogs like to eat balls and other interesting objects) need to be funded. At this point there are no low-cost vet clinics in Singapore.
If you travel, boarding may be needed. This is all before the fun stuff, like toys but of course an old sock or your shoe is just as entertaining for dogs.
So if someone is unable to cover (usually) nominal costs of adoption, then perhaps financially it’s best to wait.
Interestingly many are happy to pay the exorbitant pet shop price of a puppy-mill puppy but baulk at adoption fees which are a fraction. Rescue dogs are not inferior and should not be seen and treated as such.
3. It costs $ to run a shelter.
Dog abandonment is a real issue in many parts of the world. The numbers swell at the shelters (especially the No-Kill). It costs to feed the dogs and care for them, not to mention vet costs to take care of health issues that remains one of the most common reasons for abandonment. Shelters have a process of vetting new dogs such as a health check, temperament check, licensing, microchipping….even with an in-house vet, these add up.
Running a rescue includes more than just caring for dogs. Even with an army of dedicated volunteers, a core staff is required. Rent. Utilities. Supplies. Cleaners. Drivers. Equipment.
Most rescues I think are private, meaning they depend on donations, which rise and fall with the economy. In times of downturns, adoptions also usually fall as well, while abandonment increases.
These are my 3 primary reasons for having adoption fees. It’s also important to have adoption fees to deter people from taking dogs and selling them for a profit. I don’t believe it’s an issue here but in other parts of the world, people can sell them to labs for experimentation or dogfighting. But even here in Singapore, adopting free dogs and selling them for a profit has happened.
This all makes sense for a rescue, but what about individuals? Obviously some people can turn a profit, especially since there are dogs “free to a good home” advertised on forums and newspapers. Unfortunately I don’t think there are any laws against this and so it’s really important to be cautious who you give your dog away to (and charge an adoption fee, making it less profitable or attractive for these people). However, it’s still important to charge an adoption fee for reasons #1 and #2. Many people ask for that money to be donated to a charity. Or some people use that fee for desexing their pet before adoption.
The bottom line is that we need dogs to go to good homes, forever homes, especially after they have been abandoned and given up on. These dogs are not “second-rate” citizens. Their pedigree or lack of and their origin have no impact on their personality and they need to be safeguarded. Hopefully adoption fees can help.