The Grayson Co Humane Society in KY expresses the following popular belief on its website:
If a new owner is unwilling to pay very much for an animal, it’s likely they’d also be unwilling to pay for proper care in the future – such as heartworm and flea/tick prevention, proper food, and vaccinations.
I have raged against versions of this false and discriminatory belief for years. Not only is the claim itself baseless, it costs shelter animals their lives. This occurs either as a direct result of steep adoption fees – because shelters kill animals instead of allowing them to be adopted for reduced or waived fees, or as an indirect result – because rescue groups tie up foster home space with animals they require exorbitant fees in order to adopt while saying they are unable to pull more animals off death row at their local pound as they have no space. In both cases, healthy/treatable pets are being killed and I am opposed to that. Therefore, I want to grind this myth into the dirt.
As animal advocate Christie Keith notes on her Dogged blog:
[L]et’s look at the idea that people don’t value pets they haven’t paid for.
We know this is not true because of the data that exists on this topic, looking at pets acquired for free at special adoption events.
We also know it’s not true because the single category of pet least likely to end up in a shelter is a pet given as a gift.
And every one of us involved in rescue should know it’s not true because we have houses full of pets we got for free, who we’d do anything for. I certainly never loved my free pets less than my adoption-fee or breeder-obtained pets. I never spent less money on them, treated them less well, or fought less fiercely to save them from illness and injury.
And really, by that logic, pets from puppy mill outlets should be considered the most precious of all, as they cost the most to obtain. Do you believe that to be true? I didn’t think so.
What I’m saying is this: Organizations should seriously question whether or not adoption fees are interfering with the fulfillment of their mission.
And while animal welfare groups are at it, I hope they will consider Christie’s recommendations for generating revenue outside of adoption fees and why this makes a world of sense.
For the record, I love my free pets unconditionally. I specifically sought out a pet with a reduced/waived adoption fee when I was last looking for a pet. The backlash for doing so consisted of a number of people who don’t know me condemning me as an animal abuser, hoarder, etc. Some vowed to add my name to their Do Not Adopt lists and to circulate warnings against me to rescue groups in hopes of preventing me from obtaining a pet. My reason for wanting a pet that cost very little money (which no one asked me) was that I don’t have much and the less I spend on adoption fees, the more I have to put into vet care and related expenses. Responsible and sensible – not in any way “unwilling to pay for proper care”.
Ultimately I got a shelter dog for free and gave the person who volunteered to transport her to me the cash I had set aside for an adoption fee. She expressed her surprise and gratitude, noting that not only would it help her with the cost of gas but also the cost of a new tire she had to put on her vehicle that morning. And because it wasn’t a large amount of money, I was able to pay for the vet care the dog so desperately needed right away.
For those who condemn poor people as being “unwilling to pay for proper care”, you have a lot to learn. I hope you step outside of your tiny box and see compassionate pet lovers as they really are very soon – before too many more animals die as a result of your bigotry. People of all income levels love animals and want to save them from being needlessly killed at so-called shelters. Let them.