Why Are Rescue Adoption Fees So High?
It’s a question heard often by the rescue community and frequently it’s answered with exasperation. This is unfortunate because it often leaves a sour taste in the mouth of potential adopters.
While potential adopters may take this exasperation as a sign of judgment of their ability to provide a good home, it’s almost always the defeated sigh of a rescuer whose efforts go unnoticed.
Allow me to explain…
Why Are Rescue Adoption Fees So High?
Animal rescue workers choose to rescue because they are moved to help. They do not choose to rescue because it comes with a fat paycheck. They do not choose to rescue because it’s easy. They do not choose to rescue because it’s an affordable way to spend their spare time. Rescue workers choose to rescue because the only other alternative is to do nothing.
Doing nothing is not an option.
Not everyone is under the impression that rescue work is easy or that it’s financially rewarding, but almost everyone underestimates what it takes to rescue just one dog.
It is this underestimation that leads to people asking “why are rescue adoption fees so high?” And it’s asked not because someone is a miser, but because they don’t understand. They don’t have that firsthand knowledge of all of the “befores.”
So today I want to try and share a little more detail on what makes those rescue adoption fees so high in hopes that rescue workers everywhere will be appreciated for all they do.
On November 16th Autumn was dumped at Ouachita Parish Animal Shelter by her “owner”.
This is Autumn’s “intake” picture.
The shelter where she was dumped was full (as they always are) and their funds were minimal. Their euthanization list was, as always, full. Few dogs find their way out alive.
At the time of her surrender, Autumn was estimated to be around a year and a half old. She was heavily pregnant, she was heartworm positive, she had a broken bone in her left back leg that was protruding through the skin (and is believed to have been doing so for quite some time), and she had developed sepsis due to infection in that leg. Her outlook was bleak.
On November 17th, Autumn was rescued in a collaborative effort between LabAdore Retrievers Rescue, Inc. and Diamond Dogs Rescue. She was placed in the care of an exceptionally kindhearted foster family that same day.
On November 18th, Autumn gave birth to NINE healthy babies in the warmth and safety of a loving home.
As of today, Autumn’s babies are becoming quite mobile and their eyes are opening. Autumn has been on a heavy course of antibiotics and has had the broken section of bone cut back and stabilized so that it might grow back together. The vet says her outlook is promising, she is no longer looking at having that leg amputated. Her pups now weigh between 1.5 and 2.5lb. each and is being fed by their miracle mom, Autumn.
Autumn and her babies are safe, but the collaboration and funding that it took to get them there were exhaustive.
So far Autumn has required multiple procedures on her leg, antibiotic treatments, and multiple exams. Her pups will all require vaccinations and physical exams prior to adoption. Autumn will require heartworm treatment when she is healthy and the pups are weaned.
It’ll be a few months before Autumn’s pups can be adopted out. For Autumn it will be longer while she continues to heal. During these multiple months of foster care, Autumn requires large amounts of high-quality food so that she can maintain a steady supply of nutrient-rich milk. Her rescuers will fund those basic needs in addition to her pup’s basic needs and all medical bills.
These expenses don’t even touch on the whelping box that was made for Autumn or the pen that was later needed to contain the growing pups.
I wish I could tell you that Autumn’s needs were unusual, that they were much greater than other dogs that come into the rescues around the nation…but they’re not.
Rescue work is EXPENSIVE. Even with veterinary “rescue rates”, rescue work is expensive.
It doesn’t end there, though.
There is the overhead of running a rescue.
There is the cost of transporting dogs from their location to the rescue which includes veterinary exams and obtaining health certificates for travel.
There is the demand on staff and volunteers for their time.
…and then there’s the psychological toll that rescue work can take.
At any given time 99% of rescues are bursting at the seams while being begged to take “just one more” dog. When they must regrettably decline assistance, there is name-calling, threats, and reminders that they are letting a dog in need die.
So when someone complains about the $200-500 adoption fee or asks “why are rescue adoption fees so high?”, a fee which barely begins to cover expenses (if you were to tackle the same services privately, you would pay upwards of $2,000), it sometimes happens that the response is a tired one.
Instead of taking this response personally, please consider the “average day” of your “average” rescuers life.
It’s understood that no one asked them to take on this life, but if they didn’t, no one would.