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Why no-fee pet adoptions are OK

Beamer the tan tabby cat

Love is not measured by money

My mutt Ace was free.

My cat Scout was free.

My husband Josh paid around $35 for his cat, Beamer.

We love our animals and give them the best home we can. The price we paid for them (or didn’t) has nothing to do with how much we love them or how well we care for them.

Ace, Scout and Beamer get daily affection and play. They go to the vet when they are sick. They are neutered. I never leave them home for more than eight hours, usually no more than three. When we leave town, the whole crew travels, too. Or they stay with their “grandparents” (more than 200 miles away!) so they don’t have to go to a kennel.

Ace sleeps in or near our bedroom most nights. He plays with other dogs almost daily. He goes for walks and to training classes. He attended our wedding, gets to go camping and to the lake whenever we do.

The cats, too, are part of the family. They get Christmas presents from their “grandparents” and their “uncles.” I take naps just so I can snuggle up in a pile of purrs (a certain tan tabby is purring at my feet now). I sing to them, play chasing games, brush them, buy them organic treats, dress them up for Halloween  😀

It’s not that we give our animals a better home than other pet owners. It’s just that money has nothing to do with the equation. (Plus, don’t most of us know at least one lousy owner who paid $1,000 or more for his puppy?)

You can’t determine the quality of a home based only on what someone is willing to pay for an animal.

Yes, adopters should be screened within reason, but the adoption fee should not be related to that process.

You can’t put a price on love.

Free to a good home

I love to see rescues and shelters offering adoption specials where some or all of the animals are free or close to it.

Adoptions are vital for saving more animals, and it’s up to the adoption organizations to increase the quantity and quality of their adoptions. That means using effective marketing.

I got to attend a presentation by Bonney Brown, executive director of the Nevada Humane Society, on how to improve the shelter experience for cats.

This shelter is always looking for creative ways to promote its animals.

Bonney shared an example where the shelter took in 54 orange cats from an alleged hoarding situation. It then offered an adoption donation special on orange cats.

For one month, you could adopt an adult orange cat for just $10.

The people in the community were so touched by the shelter’s efforts to save the cats that they ended up donating more than enough money to cover the cats’ medical care.

That is the part many people are missing – shelters should not depend on adoption fees alone.

But shelters need adoption fees!

No … shelters should never depend on adoption donation fees. It’s not realistic.

Shelters and rescues already lose money on most adoptions, correct?

Their funding should come from grants, fundraisers, donations in general, and so on.

Here is where I want to point out a post from the Dogged Blog called What opponents of free pet adoptions don’t get. It inspired me to write this post, and you should check it out.

In it, blogger Christie Keith points out:

  • People who adopt their pets at free adoption events value their pets as much as those who paid a fee, according to Maddie’s Fund.
  • “Free” is just a marketing strategy, not a handout. That’s why nearly every business holds sales. Wealthy people love to shop at sales, just like everyone else.

Later, in the comments, Christie points out that relying on fees is not a good way to run a charitable organization.

It’s a bad pattern animal adoption charities have fallen into over the years, and it’s one I think we need to get out of if we’re going to fulfill our missions.

Charities should be funding themselves through development, through grants, donations, bequests, and projects envisioned from the get-go as revenue-producing, such as thrift stores or fundraisers.

I’m not saying rescues and shelters should drop their fees entirely, but they should keep them as low as possible while offering generous and frequent adoption specials. And of course, adopters should still be screened (within reason), regardless of price.

Are you OK with no-fee adoptions? How about reduced fees?

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