Yes, dear readers, it’s that time again! It’s rant time!
I’m baffled by an ignorant series of statements that I hear too frequently bemoaned on Facebook and dog-related forums: Rescues are such a scam, they’re all about the money, can you believe they would expect me to pay a $250 adoption fee for a dog?
My answer to this: Why yes, yes I can.
Here’s why this statement makes absolutely zero sense to me. When you decide to bring a dog into your life, you basically have a few choices. You can get a dog from a responsible breeder, a puppy mill, a pet store, a friend who had an oops litter, a backyard breeder, a rescue or a local shelter or animal control facility (i.e. a pound). Some of these options are cheaper than others. Some are also more deplorable. I’m going to automatically cross out anyone who gets a puppy from a backyard breeder, a puppy mill or a pet store (which, in case you didn’t know, those last two options are essentially the same thing, just one you pay more for an equally shit quality dog). If you’re getting a dog from a friend who had an oops litter, well, fine, I hope you throw them a couple hundred bucks to get his/her dog spayed and if you’re feeling ultra generous, give him/her more to have the male neutered as well.
But let’s say you’re going with a reputable breeder. You’re probably going to pay anywhere from $500-$3,000 for a dog. If you’re paying less, I would guess you’re probably on the blurry end of “reputable” and may be playing in the backyard breeder or puppy mill category. If you’re paying more, I think you’ve been taken. So what are you getting from said reputable breeder? Well, you’re getting a puppy, likely, and who doesn’t love puppies? But you’re getting a puppy who does not have complete vetting, who is not spayed or neutered, who is not trained (not even housebroken in many cases). So what are you paying for? Three things, likely – the fact that the dog is a puppy (and we pay more for stuff we like more, and we like puppies), you’re also probably paying for a piece of paper that says your dog is AKC registered (yeah, because that means a WHOLE lot) and you’re also hopefully getting some kind of health guarantee (if you’re not, you’re an idiot and need to find a new breeder). So the most valuable of all these things, in my opinion, is that health guarantee. I’m not going to knock the value of that, I’ve had to use one in my day.
But say you decide to get a dog from a rescue or a shelter and pay that oh-so-exorbitant adoption fee. What are you getting? You’re getting a dog who is completely vetted, spayed or neutered, likely microchipped, whose personality is easier to read and predict, who may already have basic training and likely comes with an assortment of other things (collar, leash, maybe even a toy or two, we had a recent adoptee go home with her favorite Jolly Egg). Oh and you get to save a life for the low low cost of typically very much less than a puppy from a breeder.
Do you know how much it’s going to cost us to get Shelby spayed and microchipped alone? $450. Do you know how much Panzer’s adoption fee was? $250. Smokey’s? $75.
Now, I’m no math wizard, but I’m pretty sure $250 and $75 are less than $450. I’m sorry, I don’t see the scam there. I don’t see the money hunger or the fact that rescues are in it for a profit. As a matter of fact, I happen to know that many shelters and rescues are running at a deficit and the only way they can even stay afloat is by compounding debt and praying that generous donors come through for them. Those money hungry bastards working for minimum wage or no wage at all, how dare they expect you to pay any money at all for their throw away dogs?
Add in now the fact that rescues and shelters have had to feed, house, and provide veterinary care for that dog often for much longer than the 8 weeks a breeder had to care for that puppy. I just don’t see it – can one of you geniuses who knows so much about the inner workings of rescues and shelters explain to me how we’re making a profit by spitting out dogs to the unsuspecting public at ridiculous rates?
Why don’t people balk at breeders putting huge price tags on half vetted, unaltered, untrained puppies, but they scream bloody murder when the rescue or shelter wants to charge a couple hundred bucks so maybe they’re not operating at a complete and utter loss? Is it because you think a shelter or a rescue dog isn’t worth it? Are they any less deserving or sweet or cute than the puppy in the window?
What about the puppy in the pound? Because as I’ve written before, we have them too, what, puppy in the pound isn’t good enough for you to pay for? Because she doesn’t have a stupid piece of paper that says she’s AKC registered?
If you are one of these people who complain that adoption fees are too high, I seriously urge you to consider visiting a shelter and looking one of those dogs in the face. I dare you to look that puppy in the eyes and say to him or her, “You’re not good enough for me to spend $250 on, you’re not as special as that puppy from a breeder.” If you can do that with a straight face, you’re a cold-hearted human being who shouldn’t even own a dog at all, and you should still quit bitching about adoption fees.
And don’t even get me started on the mill dogs some people are buying for $1500 in pet stores. I may save that rage for another day.