Director of Animal Shelter
Posted December 03, 2019 at 02:17 PM Under "Adoptions & Adoption Programs"
Price of adoption ?

I am curious to know what private non-profit animal shelters on here charge for adoptions? I have seen some crazy high amounts and can't figure out how they can do it. We have county shelters giving animals away or charging minimal fees and its hard to compete with that. We offer low costs for ours and lose a lot of money but its how we adopt more and faster. Would love to hear !

  • December 16, 2019 at 07:31 AM

    All of the fee schedules here seem reasonable to me. Of course, we all know that every animal is priceless! As to competing with other groups or municipal shelters, I would just add to make sure your adopters are not comparing apples & oranges...meaning that you may have more invested upfront so the adopter would have less medical requirements to complete (s/n, vaccs, hw, parasite control etc) vs a municipal shelter that does minimal vetting. For example, our local municipal shelters do not s/n or vaccinate so even though the day of adoption fee seems low, the adopter will likely spend more after the fact to meet minimum vetting standards that are required by law. And, yes, we are encouraging the shelters to change that policy -- we believe it is best practice to s/n/v BEFORE adoption.

    Also, many times the reduced cost or free adoptions may be sponsored through grant funding. There are quite a few funders out there who will participate in "clear the shelter" events (adoption protocols maintained!). I agree with @Cameron Moore, fundraising isn't fun, but it's a necessary part of non-profit management. In addition to grants, you can also solicit local businesses to sponsor, use virtual adoptions..there are tons of creative & innovative ideas posted in this forum. Take a look at the Maddie's Fund "Spotlight Challenge" winners for amazing ideas. Also, consider the fundraising piece as a really important outreach opportunity. In my experience, most people really have zero idea about the animal welfare crisis in this country.

  • December 07, 2019 at 03:10 AM

    We are a small 501c3 nonprofit no kill shelter on the Gulf Coast in Texas. We pull the majority of out animals from local municipal shelters, with few owner turn-ins.

    Our adoptions fees range from $50-$200, dependent on age and species. The norm for a dog/puppy under the age of 2 is $125. If we have a verifiable purebred, the price will be higher. We also may give breaks on long term animals or those who have a permanent medical issues and/or seniors.

    All of our animals are completely vetted, spay/neutered and heartworm negative. All dogs are on heartworm prevention. If they have a medical condition its evaluated by a vet and treated, including rehab and surgical intervention when needed.

    We do not do same day adoptions and we vet all applicants. The whole family who will be living with the animal must meet the pet, and we do meet/greet with our dogs.

    We are higher priced than the municipal shelters but it covers a lot. Our fees do not cover everything we do for each animal, so we fundraise ect...

  • December 04, 2019 at 09:49 AM

    On bonded adult pairs it is 2 for 1. Two kittens together is $200

  • December 04, 2019 at 09:48 AM

    We charge $125 for kittens (6 months and younger) $200 for puppies ( 6 months and younger) no discounts given on puppies and kittens. FIV and FeLV positive cats do not have an adoption fee. Adult dogs and cats (7 months and older) are $75 and we offer a senior citizens discount so the fee for an adult cat or dog is $60 to senior citizens

  • December 04, 2019 at 08:58 AM

    We have a small shelter in Wisconsin. It's a more rural area but it's smack dab in between three larger cities. Our adoption fees are pretty much in-line with what the larger shelters around us charge, however many of them have higher adoption fees for kittens and "desirable" dogs/puppies than we do.

    Our cat adoption fees are as follows:

    • Cats over 6 months: $80.00
    • Kittens under 6 months: $95.00
    • Cats over 8 years: $50.00
    • FIV+ cats: $50.00
    • Bonded adult cats: Two for one
    • Bonded adult kittens: Two for one and a half
    • Two non-bonded cats adopted together: Two for one and a half
    • Momma cats: $40.00

    Our dog adoption fees are:

    • Dogs over 1 year: $200.00
    • Puppies under 1 year: $235.00
    • Dogs over 8 years: $150

    We also do half price adoption fees for animals who need to be the only pets in the home. We frequently have adoption promotions where adult & senior cats are half price. Sometimes we also discount kitten fees, but we never do shelter-wide discounts on dog adoption fees, although in special cases (such as medical conditions or bonded pairs) we may lower the fees for individual dogs.

    • December 04, 2019 at 09:09 AM

      We do not do full shelter discounts but we do reduce fees for people adopting a second dog from us. We will also reduce fees for some senior dogs and for bonded siblings. I came on board a year ago and they were doing virtually no fundraising or grants. Lowers fees can move animals through more quickly but not always. Our average on dogs is between a couple of days and about three weeks. We bring in about 30- 40 dogs per transport twice monthly. We currently don't have the staff to bring in too many more each transport so we are okay with not moving every dog in under a week. But we do need more income streams because relying on adoption fees to pay your bills is simply not sustainable. Our fees are in line with other shelters around us and cost is not usually why a dog is not adopted.

  • December 04, 2019 at 08:28 AM

    Our adoption fee is $300, $350 for a puppy. All dogs are rescued from a high kill shelter in Kentucky so we have transport fees up to WI. All dogs are spayed or neutered, microchipped, tested for heartworm, etc., wormed, flea and tick treated and are in a safe and clean shelter with caring staff.

    We lose money on every dog because we don't have a vet that donates services or even reduces them much. We do rescue cats but take them to an independent cat rescue.

    The Humane Society has major deep pockets and routinely waive the adoption fees on cats and kittens and reduce the dog adoption fee to $50.00 and sometimes for free.

  • December 04, 2019 at 07:38 AM

    Hi SherriM, I don't work at an animal shelter, but have volunteered before.

    One shelter said that they didn't charge much for their animals (I'm sorry I don't remember what those amounts were.) However, when they had purebred puppies they charged $600 and got that amount. They said this helped them financially.

    But they also said that they didn't have reserves for emergencies (dogs that came in needing high cost medical care). When this happened they asked the community for funds and received them.

    Do you have enough staff and volunteers to help with fundraising? I know this may be a tough area to get enough help in. I wish I could be more help to you, I enjoy doing this stuff.

    Even little things such as change jars in the community. Do you ever have fundraisers? Some non-profits have one big fundraiser a year. Even things like having a float in your communities holiday parades helps raise awareness for your organization. I wish I could be more help to you.

    Not that this matters, but I've often wondered why when people quibble and gripe over the cost of adoption fees, how do they think they will be able to afford to care for a pet through the years? Not to mention that the funds they pay you are going to help a good cause. But I'm probably preaching to the choir.

    • December 04, 2019 at 07:42 AM

      We do a lot of fundraising but there is always room for more! And you are correct, if they have to quibble, they shouldn't be adopting!

      • December 05, 2019 at 10:20 AM

        Just keep in mind that everyone likes a deal and no matter what fee you charge for adoption, it does not correlate to how much they will love their pet. The key is to remove as many barriers as possible and build a relationship so they see your organization as a resource if they have questions or need help in the future.

        • December 05, 2019 at 10:30 AM

          Excellent point!!

  • December 04, 2019 at 07:21 AM

    We charge 100$ a kitten ($150 for two, $175 for three) and don't have any issues adopting them out despite having higher prices than several other organizations in our area. We cover spay/neuter, FELV/FIV-test, age-appropriate vaccines, microchip, and adoption services (where they can reach out any time for advice or tips, and we've even sent volunteers to adopters' houses to help with issues). Even that higher fee doesn't cover what we spend on the kittens, but it greatly helps us.

    My organization is 100% volunteer-run (with about 40 people total, including foster homes), primarily does TNR (we offer TNR services to the community for free), and brings in about 400 cats a year (over half being TNR cats).

  • December 04, 2019 at 07:08 AM

    All our animals are vet checked. Cats and dogs are spayed,neutered,vaccinated. Dogs are chipped. Everyone tested for leuk,heartworm,etc. They are clean,safe and loved while at our shelter. We need a huge update because of the number of animals. I have been suggesting affordable ideas,but never get a reply from the board. They appear to be very unresponsive to ideas from people outside their circle.( none of them have experience with animal behavior,etc. Just looks good to say you're on a board)

  • December 04, 2019 at 06:57 AM

    We are in Central Wisconsin. Cats and kittens are $30 or 2 for the price of 1. Adult dogs are usually $60 - $100 but unique ones may be $275. Puppies are $350. All animals are spayed/neutered, vaccinated, dewormed, flea/tick treated, microchipped and blood tested if old enough. We transport in dogs and puppies but are over run with cats which is why their adoption fees are low.

  • December 04, 2019 at 06:20 AM

    Sherry, fee waived or low fee adoptions are the way to move animals into homes quickly. The lower your fees, the faster they will be adopted and the shorter their length of stay will be. This is the goal! Every day that you hold an animal in your shelter it is not only costing you money but taking up valuable housing space that should be reserved for those who truly need it, exposing pets to infectious disease, risking overcrowding, increasing stress levels, etc. If you are a foster based rescue, you're tying up valuable space in a foster home (which usually are limited) and limiting the number of animals you can help. The goal should be to see how you can keep the pet out of the shelter or rescue organization if possible (by helping with safety net assistance) or if they do enter the shelter/rescue, come up with a plan the minute their feet hit the door to get them into a permanent home as quickly as possible.

    It's been my experience that most nonprofits are poor fundraisers therefore they try to recoup their expenses through adoption fees. This is not a good model and one that animal welfare organizations around the country are trying to change. Pat yourself on the back for offering low fees. I understand that fundraising isn't fun... but it's what you need to do if you want to save those who need your help.

    • December 04, 2019 at 07:17 AM

      Cameron, it was YOUR advice that we follow and we are doing well at it. I've had to convince the board that adoption fees won't keep us afloat and they have come around. We run specials a lot as well and it does work, our adoption numbers have improved! I wasn't thinking of changing back. I have perusing websites looking for ideas and noticed the adoption fees. I was just curious how others can charge so much!

      • December 05, 2019 at 07:14 AM

        Sherry, You're on the right track! I would keep in mind that just because a nonprofit charges that much, doesn't mean that it is what is considered in the best interest of the animal. Different parts of the country such as the Northeast, Northwest and places like Colorado and Wisconsin transport in a lot of dogs and cats since they aren't inundated in their own communities. They can and do potentially charge more because there is a sense of a 'shortage' in their area and adopters are happy to pay the fee. We would just ask that those organizations watch their length of stay regardless if the animals are housed in a shelter or foster home. That space is 'prime real estate' and they're only able to help more animals in need when they can free up that space. For the rest of the country who are still experiencing lots of overcrowding, illness and euthanasia in their local shelters, we still feel that lower fees or fee waived equal faster adoptions.

        My nonprofit here in Jacksonville charges $20 for cat/kitten adoptions and they are always 2 for 1. We rely on donations and fundraising to make up the difference to cover the medical expenses.

      • December 04, 2019 at 08:14 AM

        I don't know the full situation (i.e. where you are located, if you have any regular donors who give sizable donations, etc.) but I work for a municipal animal shelter who pretty much has set fees based on age of the animal. We regularly hold sales such as Black Friday sales, Home for the Holidays, etc., but our most successful "sale" is our annual $5.00 friends sale. We have an organization that once a year pays for the difference in adoption fees for every animal adopted during this event. We adopt out in the range of 450 - 650 (just depends on the year) animals in a four day period. We are without a doubt one of the lucky organizations to have a group that is willing to do this for us and I hope you can find someone willing to help your organization as well!

  • December 04, 2019 at 02:16 AM

    I work at a private non-profit shelter in RI. We charge $150 for adult cats and $225 for kittens 6 mos and under. Being in New England, as you know, we are importing cats and kittens for adoption. Our cats and kittens are sterilized, microchipped, all age appropriate vaccinations and many times we've performed some sort of other treatments or dentistry etc. As with the others commenting here , our adoption fee does not cover our cost. Our adoption fees are still lower than many rescues (esp for dogs) and we provide the after adoption support (and returns) which many rescues cannot since they do not have a brick and mortar.

    • December 04, 2019 at 05:54 AM

      Thanks for the reply. We were advised to lower our prices to adopt more kittens and cats out. IF you ever need kittens and cats, give me a shout!!!!! We can send you plenty!

  • December 03, 2019 at 05:23 PM

    We are in Central California and we charge $150 for male kittens and $200 for female kittens, $150 for adults. We can't compete with the public municipal shelters in cost as they are funded by tax dollars so we are often outpriced. But our advantage is that we are 100% foster home based and so our animals are in our homes until they are adopted which is a selling point for many for the cost of our fee. Also if people went to a vet to do all that we do for the animals in our care they would spend $500 - $600 easily versus our $200. We don't cover costs with our adoption fees but it allows us to continue to rescue and stay a float.

    • December 04, 2019 at 05:55 AM

      Thanks for that! Fostering allows for nicer, healthier kittens too!

  • December 03, 2019 at 03:57 PM

    I volunteer at a small rural no kill shelter. Our adoption prices are extremely low. They don't remotelt cover expenses. Only way to get people in to actually adopt. This way many take 2 at one time. Constant fundraisers and lots of volunteers.

    • December 04, 2019 at 05:55 AM

      Sounds like us!