Adoption Fees

by Ada Brann, © 1996

This is an article, written by Ada Brann in 1996 (when she was Rescue Chair for SCBDFC) and used with her express permission , concerning some approaches to setting adoption fees and on her technique for encouraging donations above the adoption fee. Please notice that this is written in 1996, so all the dollar figures would and should be at least 50% to 100% higher today in 2003, reflecting increased veterinary costs and increased general costs of keeping a dog.
I am re-printing the material exactly as Ada wrote it, adding only some formatting to make it easier to read. If I should need to add any comments, I will do so in a way that makes it absolutely clear that the added material is mine, not hers, by putting it in as {Pam's comment : blah, blah , blah} or just as {blah}.


Adoption Fees and Encouraging Donations

by Ada Brann, © 1996

The adoption fee for a Pembroke Welsh Corgi from Lakeshore has been $100 for a number of years now. Very rarely does that cover all the expenses covering one dog. We were debating about raising the adoption fee. What are other groups charging? I think someone said they charge a different amount depending on the dog, to recoup costs. What happens when you have an older dog, or one that has serious medical problems? If I lay out $500 for the care for a ten year-old Pem, I will not be able to find an adoptive home that will pay a $500 adoption fee.

In a case where there are cost go over $200 {Pam notes : that was then, ie 1996; this is now, in 2003, it would be $300 or 350}, it isn't realistic to charge much more than that. That's when our rescue fund steps in to help cover any shortage. We accept donations from caring individuals, have an annual auction, sell t-shirts and mugs, etc. to keep a balance in our rescue fund for those special situations. We also have some exceptionally generous people who donate crates, food, grooming supplies, bark collars, used leashes, toys, etc., which is a tremendous help as well.

Our adoption fee varies depending on the expenses incurred by the dog. Our usual costs could include a general checkup, fecal sample, heartworm and/or thyroid test, DHLPP, Bordatella and Rabies, and of course the neuter/spay (which can run high since Bouviers are a large breed). Hope I didn't miss anything.

I was so ignorant in the beginning, I thought paying $125 for our vet to neuter {spay} a 96 pound male {female} was a really good deal (ha). After you add paying a vet to administer the shots and do everything else, and usually we have a shelter bail-out fee, we'd be closing in on two hundred bucks already. I now have a wonderful vet who won't charge more than $60 to neuter the heaviest male I can bring her, and we buy the vaccinations thru mail-order and administer them ourselves (except for Rabies). I hate giving shots but I'm getting less nervous about it. sometimes the Inn is Full over here and I'm forced to board a rescue til we get space, we also have a wonderful relationship with a boarding kennel who only charges us $3 a night for our rescues. Our area is suddenly having a "tick" outbreak and our kennel gal is short on funds, so our rescue group is going to have her kennels treated because we *really* appreciate all she does for us! (She's a saint, if I have an off-hour emergency, she's entrusted me with a key to the kennels, I can set up a run, leave the shot records, do whatever I need to do, slip out and leave a note of explanation and dog's temperament.)

Some of your best supporters can be your adopters (I credit Pam Green for teaching me this! When my husband and I started doing rescue on our own, I never felt comfortable in asking for money, now thanks to Pam's staying on me, we do). Occasionally an adopting family will write a check for more than the adoption fee because they want "rescue" to be able to continue. The last male we placed ran costs of aproximately $215, we charged a $200 adoption fee to keep it simple, and the couple gave us a check for twice that amount so that more dogs can be saved. We also recently had several of our rescue families send a check "out of the blue" to add to the rescue fund. Pam had suggested we send out anniversary cards asking for donations in honor of their rescue's homecoming anniversary, I think it's a cool idea!

If you are rescuing as an individual and do not have a "rescue pot" to draw from when needed, maybe some of the families you've placed dogs with would be willing to chip in $5 here and $10 there to help cover the shortage in a particular case? Are there any non-profit organizations in your area who provide assistance in these instances? Just a thought, remember I'm still fairly new to the rescue world!

One time when we were spreading the word about a very special dog who needed a $300 surgery to fix a major problem , not counting the usuals, we got a letter from a Bouvier lover who said to do the surgery and send him the bill, then find a good home for that dog. We were very touched, but someone else was also watching over us and sent us the perfect adopter family who insisted on paying the whole thing! I doubt that will happen again, but ya never know, stranger things have occurred


Back to my screening stuff - ha - we tell our prospective applicants that we ask full reimbursement of all costs and give them a ballpark range of how high things can run, what is average and what is rare. Even tho we've rarely received *total* reimbursement, it's just another way to see how they feel about the topic, some people want a Bouv cuz they're not real common and think they can get a free dog, or the first thing out of their mouth is how much are your Bouviers, boy can *that* cause your mind to go on tilt! A-hem. Another thing we tend to do because I worry my head off when a rescue leaves, is when we go over the adoption papers, I give them a printout of the actual expenses incurred, then show them the adoption fee we're charging, it's always less (except for the story above), and the ones who are really appreciative usually add a bit more as an extra donation, I just don't want it to even be in the back of their minds that investing in their dog was more than they anticipated, psychologically if they feel they saved $15, maybe the dog will get an extra toy or a nice rolled leather collar, or at the very least they will feel that we really are sincere in us wanting our relationship to be true, I'm sure some folks have got to wonder if rescue people made a profit on the dog, so just in case they do, I give em the actual printout, log, receipts and etc, and I just revised it to read in bold letters at the top "Summary of expenses incurred below EXCLUDES food, supplements, transportation, grooming, housing, evaluation, training, love, labor, and time.)

Ada Brann
So Calif Bouvier des Flandres Rescue


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