Adoption Fee Waivers

It still costs money to own pets

December 28, 2018

Whenever I hear about San Diego Humane Society or other organizations offering events where adoption fees are waived, I have mixed emotions. As much as I am an advocate for pets finding their forever homes through these amazing organizations, events and opportunities, a sense of ambivalence washes over me just the same. 

Two weeks ago my husband and I spent over $500 on routine shots for three of our dogs, and blood work for our 10-year-old Schnauzer Maggie. It certainly wasn’t the first time we have handed over our AKC credit card (where you rack up points for anything pet-related), and by no means was it the most expensive trip to the vet. In fact, between the aforementioned costs from two weeks ago, heart medicine for our 10-year-old Boston Terrier Olive, boarding for our week-long trip to Hawaii, medicine for our now-deceased Schnauzer Wrigley (then cost of his at-home euthanization, transport and cremation), plus routine shots for our other dogs, 2018 has been our most expensive year as dog owners. 

Throw kibble, canned food and treats on top of the mix, and the grand total for six dogs — since late October we are down to five — hovers around $22,000. 

Having two sick dogs did result in about half of that cost, and once Olive crosses the Rainbow Bridge (she was not expected to make it through December, but is still kicking) we will be down to four relatively healthy dogs. 

So when it comes to adoption fee waivers, the skeptic in me can’t help but ask, “If you can’t afford the cost of a pet, how are you going to afford the basics, and even more so, the costs that you will surely encounter when the pet needs medical attention?" How very sad it would be for the pet to wind up back at the shelter because the family realizes they cannot afford the costs that go along with pet ownership. 

Free pet adoptions are a great way to get the ball rolling, but similar to giving a car a jumpstart, gas (food), maintenance (routine shots) and the occasional emergency can be a huge part of the equation after that. 

In our case, divide $22,000 by six, and you come up with roughly 3,666.00. Consider that per dog (body weights range 17-28 pounds), but also keep in mind there is no template; no household with pets is the same. We have a niece who spends $500 a month on medication for her 50-pound dog — a dog who was perfectly healthy when she got him as a puppy, yet due to being hit by a car, has been on medication for the past ten years.

I encourage anyone who is thinking of adopting a pet to take advantage of adoption fee waivers, but please, do consider that it is far from a free ride after that. Consider before bringing home a pet what your budget is for food and routine veterinary care, then also take into account your resources should an emergency arise. Don’t be caught off guard. Having to give up a pet simply because he/she became more costly than you anticipated would be heartbreaking for all. You, at least, will understand how it all came about; the abandoned pet will not.