Q: Thoughts on Adoption Fees
I volunteer with a small shelter that charges $150 adoption fee for a single kitten. It costs the shelter approximately $165 in medical costs just to get the kitten ready for adoption. The adoption fee covers the spay or neuter surgery, vaccines, test for Feline Leukemia and Feline AIDS viruses, and a microchip. Other shelters in the area only charge about $65 to $90 for a kitten but these are large shelters with a spay/neuter clinic in house and a development office. How do we compete? How important is the adoption fee per an animal to a prospective adopter?
May 25, 2009
I do think that adoption fees are a big factor in the adoption process. The problem is to determine an appropriate cost but not have it too low. Many potential adopters aren't aware of the medical costs associated with preparing a kitten for adoption. Our rescue group has the lowest cat adoption fees in the area--$60 for a cat (or a kitten 5-6months old) that has been spayed,/neutered tested for feline leukemia, and has had rabies and feline distemper vaccinations. Our rescue group always loses money on kittens because they generally are sickly and require more vet care and meds than an adult cat from the pound. The local human society charges $120 for an equivalent cat, and $90 for a kitten that has not been spayed or neutered. The humane society has increased its fees because now they microchip, but it is still less than your shelter's $165. It is far too easy for someone to get the newspaper and look for a "free to good home" ad. However, you don't know the health of such an animal from the newspaper ad and what you will actually be getting.
If you look at this from another angle, a person who isn't willing to pay the adoption fee of $60, $90 or $120 will probably not be willing to spend money on veterinary care. I have been asked "Where can I get a cheap cat?" There is nothing cheap about responsible pet ownership--and that includes more than just food and water--a healthy and happy pet needs vet care, shelter, and positive interaction and stimulation. If a person can't afford the adoption fee, then they can't afford to have a pet in the first place. So if someone is willing to pay a high adoption fee, then I feel that they will also be willing to pay for all the costs associated with this pet for its entire life. If someone isn't willing to pay the high adoption fee or complains about the cost, then I suspect that they will not be a responsible pet owner.
When our rescue group gets a momma cat and kittens, only the momma cat is tested for feline leukemia. We do not test for FIV. Eliminating the FIV test will reduce your overall costs. The new adopter is welcome to take their new pet to their vet for a wellness exam and ask for an FIV test to be done. Depending on the age of the kitten, the feline leukemia test isn't always accurate and it never hurts for the adopter to have the kitten re-tested at a later date.
When do you have kittens spayed or neutered? At a really young age and before they leave the shelter? Our rescue group and the majority of the vets in this area don't spay or neuter cats until they are 6 months old. If you can get the kittens adopted out before they are at an age appropriate for de-sexing, this will also transfer that cost to the adopter.
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May 26, 2009
It just seems to be getting out of hand. Especially these ones that now charge more if a dog is purebred. It doesn't take any more time or money, so why the extra fee? Just to make more money.
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May 25, 2009
Adoption fees are a big factor. That is higher than I have heard, even for a larger kennel with more resources. I don't know of any shelter that routinely tests for feline leukemia or AIDS. Eliminating those tests would reduce your costs. Also, shop around for a less expensive vet to do your spaying/neutering. I doubt I would pay $150 for a kitten. I'd look for a free ad, ask around or go to a different shelter. Only if I were looking for a purebred would I pay that much.
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