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Issue 974

Sam Mazzotta

Should Shelters Lower the Cost of Adoption?

DEAR PAW’S: My local shelter has started holding “free” adoption days twice a year. It drops the $100 fee to adopt a pet (although people still need to pay a $10 processing fee, and they get a collar and ID tag with that). Taking care of pets can be expensive, and I think these kinds of promotions attract owners who aren’t going to invest in their new pet and keep them healthy. What do you think about low-cost shelter adoptions? — Colin H., via email

DEAR COLIN: If a lower adoption fee helps shelters find homes for pets, and reduces shelter populations, I’m in favor of it. However, I understand your reservations. In some ways, it’s a gamble that the shelter takes on each new person to come through its door. Will this person be the forever family for a traumatized dog? Can a family with kids care for a cat with special needs?

Some shelters vet potential owners before allowing them to adopt, while others follow the more familiar “open adoption” practice, where the criteria are not so strict.

Pet adoption fees are not about gatekeeping. These fees cover the cost of caring for animals at the shelter: their food and health care, as well as administration. In return, new owners often receive a voucher or coupon for a free vet visit and steeply discounted services like vaccination and deworming. And the fee is far lower than the cost of buying a pet through a breeder or at a pet store.

Whether a lower-cost promotion is in place or not, potential new owners should always visit their nearest shelter first as they search for their new pet.

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(c) 2018 King Features Synd., Inc.