black dog in shelterAdoption Fees – Why Do I Have to Pay?

Why do shelters and rescue groups charge adoption fees for dogs? The answer to this question is simple. It’s because of the testing and treatments for diseases or injuries along with spaying or neutering and vaccinations.

Adoption fees at shelters and rescue groups can vary greatly. Many rescue groups operate with volunteers and donations are the only way to keep the doors open to save more dogs. The adoption fees for dogs go towards the care of all of the dogs while at the shelter and medical care as needed.

Adoption fees for dogs and puppies may be adjusted according to the dog or puppy’s age and their “adopt-ability”. Puppies have a higher adoption fee because many people want a puppy and the demand is high. Senior dogs will have a much lower adoption fee because not many people want a senior dog.

Dog breeds that are rare usually will have a higher adoption fee. You may find that pure breed rescue groups will have higher fees and stricter adoption requirements. Each shelter or rescue group will have their own requirements and fees.


What Does the Adoption Fee Include?

Most dog shelters will have each dog examined by a veterinarian to make sure every dog is healthy before adoption. Below is a list showing what most adoption fees include.

  • Physical Exam
  • Behavioral assessment
  • Age appropriate vaccines
  • De-worming medication
  • Flea and tick prevention
  • Heartworm test
  • Microchip
  • Free bag of food
  • ID tag


Where Does the Money Go?

A visit to a Veterinarian with an exam will be about $50 to $100, depending on where you live.  Core vaccinations will be around $30 to $60 and the Rabies vaccination about $15 to $25.

Dogs and puppies over 6 months of age will receive a heartworm test. Treatments will be given for a positive result and prevention will be given for a negative result. Dogs and puppies will also  be checked for intestinal worms, and treatments will be given if necessary.

The dogs and puppies that are old enough will be treated for fleas and ticks, as well as placed on a prevention. The treatments and prevention can be $15 or more each month.

Most shelters and rescue groups will require the dog or puppy to be spayed or neutered before adoption. If you are adopting a puppy, depending on the puppy’s age, it may be necessary to bring the puppy back to have them spayed or neutered.

Most shelters and rescue groups will microchip the dogs and puppies before they leave the shelter or group. The cost of a microchip is around $35 to $50.


puppies in shelterSpecial Adoption Events

Watch out for special adoption events in your local area. Some shelters or rescue groups will hold special events during certain times of the year and some events are year round.

In my area, several times a year they have the “Clear the Shelters” events, where people can adopt animals and name their own adoption fee.

I also know of a shelter in my area that has a special event all year round called the Seniors Saving Seniors program. Senior citizens 62 years of age and over can adopt a senior dog without any fees.


Donations Needed

Because of the high cost of medical care, shelters need additional money and donations of items. The dogs and puppies still have basic needs, such as food, shelter and bedding, along with the time and attention of volunteers. And toys, dogs need toys, especially chew toys.


As you can see, those adoption fees are necessary to care for the dogs and puppies. Remember, not only are the adoption fees necessary, donations are also needed to feed, shelter and care for them.

Leave a comment below about adopting a puppy or dog, or share a story about your dog or puppy. The information on this website is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian, dog trainer, or dog behavioral specialist.


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