Toy or Treat 1

Picture yourself browsing the kennels at your local animal control…

and you come across two pets, one with an adoption fee of $100 and one with no adoption fee. Which of these animals has a better chance of going to a good home?

Conventional wisdom tells us that people only value what they pay for, so someone who gets a cat for free wouldn’t value it enough to feed it and care for it properly, would they? People who adopt a cat for free probably doesn’t have the money to give it a good life, or do they?

These are questions the rescue community is faced with all the time, and opinions vary widely.

Let me give you two local examples:

1. The Little Rock Animal Village

catsnightout

I’ve been volunteering with the cats at LRAV for a year and a half. Recently, they started an event called Cats Night Out where on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of every month the shelter stays open until 8:00 pm and allows adult cats to roam the halls and lobby area to get some exercise and exposure to potential adopters.

On these nights, adult cats over one year old are free to adopt. As a volunteer, I have had a lot of fun at these events introducing visitors to our cats and mingling with other cat volunteers. At each event, at least one cat has been adopted, and last Thursday, we had a record of eight adoptions. The reason for this event is kittens usually fly out the door pretty fast, but adult cats can linger in the shelter much longer if they don’t get special attention.

2. The Humane Society of Pulaski County

Ryan

A few days ago, Arkansas Pet Gazette made a donation to the HSPC to sponsor two adult black cats, which typically take longer to adopt out than their lighter-colored friends. I talked to the receptionist about using the donation to cover the cats’ adoption fees and she told me that even if a cat is sponsored, they don’t tell potential adopters until they have already filled out the adoption application and are ready to pay for the pet themselves.

The HSPC feels that if they advertise an animal as free to adopt, it will attract the kind of adopters who can’t afford the upkeep on a pet.

So, you can see by these two examples that shelters frequently disagree on the subject of free pets.

My personal opinion is that as long as a shelter screens potential adopters by running an animal cruelty background check and talking with them about their expectations for having a pet, it won’t matter in the end how much they pay for their new furry friend. However, I respect HSPC’s decision not to advertise free pets and I know they have the animals’ best interests at heart.

What do you think about free pet adoptions?

Regardless of where you stand on the subject, you may be interested to read about  a study conducted by the ASPCA that investigated whether it was harmful to adopt out cats for free.

Looking to adopt? Check out our Events Calendar for local adoption events!

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5 responses »

  1. Mmm, a hard one and you have to respect the views of the organisation. You can argue it either way but if you are letting them go free and not having a large return rate, you are doing something right!

  2. Patre Williams says:

    I have a cat that I got for free from the NLR shelter. I lover her and have had her for almost ten years. I adopted her because she was free and as a companion for my other cat. I think it is a good idea to give away free animals. Many people do not always want to pay $100.

    Maybe you could suggest a donation of a lesser amount if you do not want to give away aminals for free.

  3. Kay says:

    A lot of people don’t have extra money for adoption fees but they have the extra $20-$30 a month for the animal care.

  4. Although an adoption fee can deter someone who can’t afford to care for a pet long term, I have seen dogs with the $600 pet store receipts still attached to the collar dumped at a shelter, so, in the long run, it’s about the person, not the fee.

  5. I agree with Erin: if people are going to dump a pet, a price tag isn’t going to stop them. All it means is that the pet will probably wind up on Craigslist with a “relocation fee” to cover some of the expenses.
    I feel the biggest problem isn’t that pets cost money, it’s that people don’t take time to understand and appreciate their pets! So if you want to charge an adoption fee to cover some of the care, fine! I think most reasonable people understand that a spay/neuter isn’t free, and won’t mind putting down $30-$70 (I wouldn’t pay more than $70, personally) to reimburse the shelter or rescue for some of its hard work. But the best way shelters and rescues can ensure a good home for their adoptable pets is education!

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