Sometimes one of the first questions we are asked is "how much does this dog cost". First, we are not selling our rescue dogs - however there is an adoption fee. This money is what we use to support ALL of our rescue pets. These funds pay for everything from the medical care of our 10 year old puppy mill survivor to the bedding in our rabbit hutches! Our animals have almost always come from a shelter where they were abandoned or a breeding farm or puppy mill where they were neglected. Our first order of business whenever we take in a rescue animal is to restore him or her to good health. The costs associated with this vary greatly. Many times we can (and do) spend upwards of $1,000 on one dog who has multiple medical issues. Other times, we take in highly adoptable dogs and puppies from shelters who need just basic medical care.
Our adoption fees range and are based on the age, size, health and temperament of the dog. Typically, they can range from $125.00 to $500. A fellow rescue group wrote the following which sums it up for all rescue groups:
"Recently someone asked, 'Why would you charge $500 for a rescue pet? Why not just place it in a good home?' The answer is because we need adopters who are willing to support all rescue pets, not just the dog they adopt. A young, healthy dog might cost us $150-400 in vet care, and many people will want to adopt it. An older one with health issues can easily cost $500-1500 in veterinary expenses, and may require months of foster care for rehabilitation; yet we can only ask a minimal adoption fee, and it may be a long time until anyone comes forward to adopt it. Fees from the younger, more adoptable dogs help offset the cost of caring for the others. Most of our dogs have a sad story to tell, and some have suffered through years of neglect or abuse. We hope that you too are willing to give an opportunity for a better life to ALL of our dogs by supporting them through adoption fees. Without these funds, our rescue efforts would not be possible."
Another fellow rescuer wrote the following - a glowing example of how the adoption fee for a young, highly adoptable dog is supporting an old dog who has very little chance at ever finding that "happy ending" we strive to attain for all our rescue pets:
Betty's Story: Not Everyone Loves Pansies
It was an adoption event in New England. A man approached Pansy, a fit, attractive tan and white Boston pup. "She's cute," he commented. "I'm looking for a Boston. But why is her adoption fee so high?" Pansy's foster mom wanted to answer him. "Well, she's a purebred Boston Terrier puppy who has been spayed, vaccinated, heartworm tested and microchipped, not to mention transported across nine states to get here. None of that was free, and the adoption fee you think is so high is actually considerably less than you'd pay for a puppy bought from a breeder. That's why!" But we do get tired of explaining ourselves to people who, rather than commit a charitable act, simply want to buy a desirable dog for a great price. So I thought, I could blog the Pansy incident and...
Wait! I digress! This blog is not about Pansy. It's really about Betty.
Betty is an eight year-old black pug from a puppymill. Most rescues who see Betty carried off by anyone-but-them can sigh and say they dodged a bullet. Betty came into rescue direct from a "commercial breeder" in Rolla, Missouri with a case of heartworms, rotten teeth, and a couple of small tumors. Like most puppymill survivors, Betty has never heard of housetraining. Most people would probably not be astounded to hear that eight year-old dogs who pee everywhere are not hot commodities on the adoption circuit, but Betty doesn't know that. After spending her entire life churning out litter after litter for greedy humans who withheld affection and medical attention, she has embraced pethood wholeheartedly. She now lives in a rescue house with her foster parents, who love her no matter what. Betty needs no special incentive to do the full-butt wag for anyone who looks the least bit interested in her. In short, Betty is a charmer and a money pit. Betty has a chance to be what she always should have been - a beloved, physically well-cared-for family member. We want her to have that chance. But how do we pay for it?
Admittedly, we pray a lot. God always seems to take pity on fools, so our prayers are answered, sometimes with donations from caring people. More often, the answer comes in the form of dogs like Pansy.
That's right - back to Pansy, the beautiful 10 month-old purebred Boston Terrier with the exorbitant adoption fee. She did not "show well" in the shelter, so she was sent to the same rescue where Betty resides. Pansy has no health issues, and no major behavioral issues. After a bit of one-on-one in a foster home, she's ready for a permanent family. The inequity: This highly desirable puppy's adoption fee is roughly double the fee asked for Betty, whose medical care cost three times as much. Here's a truism for folks looking for cheap dogs: Healthy puppies rarely need rescue. We can place Pansy and dogs like her all day long. If that was what rescue was all about, it would be an easy task, wouldn't it? But we think rescue should be more about the Bettys than the Pansys.