Today’s post is the first in a series about the adoption process. It covers adoption fees and locating potential adopters.
It’s unrealistic to think that adoption fees will ever cover what it costs to prepare a rescued dog for adoption. Of course, some dogs (like the occasional owner surrender) come into rescue already altered and up-to-date on shots, but most dogs need to be altered and vetted, at the very least. Some need extensive surgeries, and as rescues, it’s our duty to do whatever we can for them within accordance to the policies our rescues have set forth.
As related to adoption fees, the purpose of the fee should be to supplement some of the costs of rescuing and to ensure that the adopter is serious about getting a dog and understand the financial obligations associated with caring for a dog. Most rescues charge more for puppies and less for older dogs. Some have a flat fee, while others adjust their fees according to age and/or health. The most common amount to charge is between $100 and $400.
Most rescues also give a discount to foster families who “fail” (end up keeping their foster dogs), and of course, they don’t charge families who agree to provide hospice care or sanctuary for an “unadoptable.” The most common idea appears to be to give a 50% discount to foster families who decide to keep their adoptable foster pets.
I haven’t heard of rescue charging an application fee, but the question was presented to me the other day. What does your rescue do?
There are many different ways for rescues to find adopters. A website is a great tool to encourage people to adopt, lay out the expectations, provide an application, and showcase adoptable pets. Using online adoptable pet listing services is great, too, because they are likely the first site potential adopters will find. You can also find adopters at adoption and community events. Some rescues make agreements with local television stations to showcase their dogs on a weekly or monthly basis, which can help you to reach a broad audience.You can partner with local businesses to put up posters, have adoption days for your organization, and help you with promotions.
No organization should allow a potential adopter to take home a pet before that adopter has filled out an application and received a home visit, live interview, and background checks. However, keep in mind that a well-planned, thorough adoption process should also be timely and achievable. People commenting that “adopting a dog was harder than adopting a child” are not paying your organization a compliment. If the process is too difficult or lengthy, it will turn people away.
Some organizations, especially really large ones, run specials. However, most smaller organizations stay away from adoption discounts and 2-for-1’s. While we all know that encouraging people to buy pets as gifts for others is a bad idea, some organizations will allow people to purchase gift certificates.
Pat’s Take (GRRAND):
Applications for adoption are on our website. They can be downloaded, completed and returned on line. Once vet references (if applicable), and other references are checked, a home visit is scheduled. This usually can take from a few days to a few weeks. At the present time, we do not charge a fee for applying. Our web site, at present, cannot facilitate the process. We are considering the possibility of establishing a non-refundable application fee once the website is updated.
Rescuing and rehabilitating dogs is not a cheap endeavor. Our cost direct cost per dog is in excess of $800. That does not include items such as insurance, telephone, or promotional costs. We have to charge what the market will bear. After an extensive study into what local shelters and breed rescue groups charge, we came to a scale of fees: dogs up to 7 are $275; dogs 8-9 are $150; dogs 10 and older – no fee required. We are considering an increase but because of the economy we are not doing it at this time. Our last increase was several years ago. We increased our fees 10%.
Our biggest source of potential adopters comes from former adopters. They want to add to their dog family, or perhaps their beloved pet passed away. We try to maintain contact with the former families by hosting several events for dogs and their owners. We also get applications from friends and families of former adopters
Our website is the next source of applications. Searching for breed rescue on the web will list our group. We are breed specific (golden retrievers) and receive many inquiries and applications as we are the only GR rescue in this state.
We do have the “Meet and Greets” where we will appear at local businesses. Several business support our organization and allow us to have these events on a regular basis. We do not, however, take any adoptable dogs due to insurance constraints. We encourage people to go online or take an application home to return at their convenience. We do not encourage impulse adopting
What are some other ways that rescues can locate potential adopters? What does your rescue charge for adoptable pets? What are your policies about foster failure?