When I first heard about low or no cost adoption fees, I was completely and totally against the idea.
I had heard rumors of some places doing this, and I just thought to myself that they were disreputable and didn’t care who adopted their animals.
Then I read about a seminar where it was encouraged for you to REDUCE adoption fees on senior dogs and cats, or pit bulls, or difficult to place dogs or cats, or dogs or cats with medical issues or those that had been with you a long time.
I read the seminar description and thought “ABSOLUTELY NOT!” Those dogs and cats are not worth any less in our eyes! Just because they are older or sick, or may be tougher to place, does that mean I want people adopting them BECAUSE they see a “discounted” animal? It seemed to imply that they are WORTH less or that we should devalue them in some way!
And so I attended the seminar, perhaps a bit smug and pompous in regards to my opinion about this, but also ready and wanting to be open minded and to listen to what was to be taught. Inwardly I had kind of already made up my mind that we wouldn’t be doing this at Pets Alive.
After the seminar…and after listening with a truly open mind, asking many questions, after reading the studies about this, and after speaking to many organizations that had done it…I was forced to admit that I was wrong. Very wrong.
The first one I spoke to in person about this was Bonnie Brown. Bonnie Brown used to work at the Best Friends Animal Society and then she went to Nevada Humane and wound up converting their very high kill facility into one that saves over 93% of all 15,000 animals they take in annually. Think about that. They are taking in over 42 animals EVERY SINGLE day, seven days a week, and saving almost ALL of them. And Bonnie supported free, low cost and reduced fee adoptions.
So I went to her and asked her why we would want to do this? I advised that the dregs of society must walk in to get a free cat or dog. And I explained all my reasons (listed above) for disagreeing with this. And she looked at me, and with no offense taken said “Do you have a good adoption team?”
Well, give me an opening to brag about my staff and I’ll talk your ear off. I went on and on about how caring they were, how professional, how much they loved our animals and how carefully they matched our animals to homes.And she softly said to me “Then why would you not trust them to place your animals in only GOOD homes?”
Well. Game. Set. Match. Point. Goal. Checkmate…….whatever the heck the saying is.
Hmm. Uh. Yeah.
If the people still have to fill out our adoption application, and they still have to go through our reference checks and our vet checks and possibly our home checks, and they have to come down to meet their new pet and spend time with us and we watch them interact with their potential new pet, and we talk to them, and maybe we see their current dog (if they have a dog they are required to bring that one down to meet their possible “additional” dog) and we see how that dog looks and is cared for and reacts to them….well then really – what do we care about how much we are charging them?
If WE can afford to let them go low cost, no cost, or reduced fees – then maybe, just maybe we will encourage a person in the market for a new pet to ADOPT and not BUY an animal at a pet shop or a breeder. To come to a shelter and save a life. Maybe if all across the nation we did this, we could put puppy mills out of business and force pet shops to have only shelter pets for “sale” at their stores. Perhaps this, along with all the other things we are doing to achieve no-kill, could finally help end the killing of so many millions of little defenseless lives in shelters across the United States.
Perhaps people that already have a pet and were not necessarily looking to get another might be encouraged to come down on adoption “free” days and take another pet home. Perhaps we can place MORE animals into good homes if it wasn’t hundreds of dollars to adopt one.
And studies show that people that do adopt and don’t pay a fee have NO DECREASE in the love or commitment they bestow upon that animal!
Here is one study done by Maddie’s Fund (Click to read full study):
A survey of all 1,928 pet adopters from the fee-waived 2011 Matchmaker Adopt-athon compared caregiver characteristics and pet lifestyles between adopters who still had their pets 6 – 12 months after the event, and those who did not. A total of 57% (1,099) of adopters completed the survey, and a vast majority of those reported that the adopted pets were still in the home (93% of the dogs and 95% of the cats). Most pets lived predominantly indoors, slept in the family bed, and had been to a veterinarian – and a resounding 94% of all respondents declared a strong or very strong attachment to the pet, whether the pet was retained or not. The researchers concluded that successful adoptions do not require payment of a fee, and free adoption promotions may increase adoptions without compromising the quality of the animal’s life.
The ASPCA facility in NYC has an ONGOING program where all cats over 3 years old are adoption fee free! And they report no adverse stories, reports or high rate of returns for those cats.
So while on the surface this SOUNDS crazy, or scary, or nerve-wracking, it really isn’t. It is just another step to save millions more lives each year and take dogs and cats off of euthanasia tables and put them into the loving arm of families that will adore them.
And we will still check you out. We will still do our due diligence and you may still get turned away if you aren’t a good home, or we don’t feel you’ve shown responsibility to previously owned pets. How many can we adopt in 2 days? Let’s see! And if we adopt 50 or 100 in two days….then we can save another 50 or 100 that very night from a shelter that might kill them.
And so on June 1st and June 2nd, Pets Alive will be participating in the Maddie’s Pet Adoption Days, and will be open at all our locations from 9 am – 9 pm for you to come and adopt a dog or a cat and pay NO ADOPTION fee. We will be one of 5 states, 8 communities, 100 locations, with a total goal of finding homes for 5000 animals that weekend.