dog-adoption heartache part two and updates on other nonsense

Looking for a Dog Number Six is turning out to be very painful.

You'll recall that we narrowed the field to two dogs. The one in the shelter has been adopted. Yay! The other, being fostered by a local rescue group, is not going to be ours. Rescue Group wants a $400 adoption fee, which is about twice what we were expecting.

We routinely pay hundreds of dollars of vet bills, and many time have spent (rather, charged) thousands of dollars of surgery and all manners of special procedures when our dogs have needed anything. Our monthly expenses have always included dog medications, often to an extent that many people would find ridiculous. In our experience, a new dog always needs some medical care right out of the gate. We expect that. Yet to spend $400 just to bring a dog home, when that dog is with a loving foster family right now, is a bit rough for us right now - especially considering there are so many other dogs that need homes.

I had an e-mail conversation with Rescue Group. From her point of view, a person who won't spend whatever adoption fee is requested is a bad risk, someone who doesn't understand that a dog is "well worth that money". From my point of view, she is preventing this dog from finding an excellent forever home over $200. She made it clear the fee was non-negotiable, we wished each other well, and that was that.

I wonder if people in our area who can easily afford a $400 adoption fee are going the rescue route or would tend to purchase a pure-bred dog. Rescue does not seem to be as common here as it is, for example, in New York.

But more importantly, there are so many dogs who need homes. I'd rather spend that $200 on food and care for our new dog than reimburse someone else for their fostering expenses. There are so many dogs at Toronto Animal Services. Why not take one of those?

Why not indeed. I looked at so many dogs on Petfinder this weekend, my heart is aching. I saw so many older dogs in need of adoption. Why are so many older dogs surrendered? What does it feel like to be dropped off at a shelter or a vet's office, to wait for your family's return, only they never come back? What is wrong with people, why do they do that, how do they live with themselves?

We clearly started looking too early. Here's our new plan. Our projected adoption date is Monday, April 25. We'll look at the shelter website that weekend. Of whoever is available, we'll pick a dog closest to our preferred type, and that will be Dog Number Six.

Elsewhere in Allan-and-Laura-land, our washing machine broke in the middle of a cycle, we are writing our Small Claims Court claim, and I still have a final exam to study for and write. Whine, whine, whine. I'm feeling a bit put-upon.


Amy said...

$400? That is ridiculous. I know some shelters require you to prepay for neutering, if the animal is not yet neutered. But $400 just to adopt the dog? Is this to defray their costs of caring for the dog? Even so, that seems like an outrageous amount. I agree---it is likely to turn some people to breeders or puppy mills instead. How sad.

My mother would say, "It just wasn't meant to be. That was not your dog." The one you get on April 25 will be the one that was meant to be and will be your dog.

(My mother says this in many contexts: jobs, colleges, boyfriends, etc.)

I think waiting until closer to the time you are ready to adopt makes a lot of sense. It can only break your heart to scan Petfinders every day, knowing that you are not going to be taking those dogs yet.

Good luck!

Dharma Seeker said...

$400 is excessive. I paid $350 to Take Me Home for Chelsea five years ago, had a similar e-mail conversation, and ended up paying the high fee because Chelsea was THE dog for Kiera and me. There was no question.

Our Humane Society charges $250 for an adult dog which includes vaccinations, spay/neuter, and a microchip. I think that's a reasonable benchmark, give or take $50.

Dharma Seeker said...

Obviously you know I'm a fan of BIN, but Adopt A Dog/ Save a Life is also a tremendous rescue, they're based in Toronto. If Grace Hall doesn't have a foster home for a dog she'll pay for it to be boarded until there is room in a foster home. She's been doing rescue for decades - literally.

One caveat: she doesn't always consider the fit so you would need to apply your own experience and expertise in that area. But she's really great. That's where Riley came from.

laura k said...

The $400 is supposedly what the foster family spent on the dog - spaying/neutering, any other medical attention the dog needed, and any extraordinary expenses, not including any ordinary expenses like food. So for her group, the adoption fee varies according to what the foster volunteer spent.

It is supposed to defray their costs, as (according to the person I emailed with) their rescue volunteers foster "dozens of dogs over the course of a year".

Whether or not that is so, $400 was out of our comfort zone. We expect (as Dharma Seeker says) $200 give or take.

When we fostered Puppy, we had her spayed, bought a crate and many other supplies, and handed them all over to the new family, and never expected to be reimbursed in any way. We felt it was an investment in making the dog more adoptable.

When I told this to the Miss'a Rescue Group, the woman said she had never heard of such a thing in 15 years of working with animal rescue. I can't say whether that's true or an exaggeration. I don't think it's such a huge big deal to spend a couple of hundred dollars to save a dog's life.

If people foster dogs all the time, obviously they can't spend all that money every time. But wouldn't they expect to some financial outlay?

laura k said...

Thanks for the info, D/S! I saw many many dogs listed from Adopt A Dog/ Save a Life. Good to know they're tops.

AtB B and B said...

Hi Laura,

Re: the last bit of your post - Do you know of FreeCycle? You might be able to score a washing machine there.


laura k said...

Thanks Eric. I do belong to Freecycle, I've donated lots of things through it.

I've never seen anything like a working washing machine on Freecycle. We bought the one we have now used on Craigslist, that seems a more likely source.

First, a friend of ours who is a very talented handyman is going to take a look at it.

Well, first is a trip to a laundromat with the wet and dirty clothes. Then a visit from a handyman. Then, if necessary, Craigslist.

I can't really wait for one to come up on Freecycle unless it's listed right now. Thanks for mentioning it, though.

Amy said...

I can see reimbursing a foster family for neutering a dog since that is something you are likely to do yourselves anyway, but medical expenses, etc., should be covered by the organization and/or the foster family. It does not seem appropriate to expect a new owner to take on that responsibility. It would seem that if a dog had such extraordinary medical expenses that the fee is $400, then that fact should be made clear in the ad for the dog. It also makes me wonder what kind of medical issues the dog may have that the foster family had to spend that kind of money (although we all know how quickly vet bills can amount to exorbitant amounts).

It is very sad. Perhaps this just means the foster family wants to keep the dog, if they are making it so hard for her to get adopted.

(I do tend to write happy endings to these stories, don't I?)

Northern Girl said...

What a shame, but I agree $400.00 is excessive.

The Rescue Group’s representative is wrong (and insulting) in her assessment of you and Allan that you are a “bad risk” and “don’t understand that a dog is well worth the money”. You and Allan provide your dogs with an excellent and loving home, and have spent a lot of money on prescriptions and medical care. I hope she takes more into account on judging an adoptive family’s suitability than their willingness to pay this hefty fee.

Like Amy said “it wasn’t meant to be, and this was not your dog”.

laura k said...

Thanks NG and Amy.

To be fair, I don't think RG was saying that Allan and I are a bad risk.

She meant that, in general, the group will not negotiate an adoption fee because a prospective owner who balks at an adoption fee may be revealing that they don't realize how much a dog can cost, and/or are revealing that a dog may not be worth xxx dollars to them.

She did approve our application and acknowledge that the dog would have a great home with us.

The foster family is not intending to keep the dog. It's not about that.

IMO, the $400 fee doesn't mean the dog had anything seriously wrong with it that they're not disclosing. The dog was rescued from an overcrowded shelter in the US - there are bound to be medical expenses. As Amy suggests, $400 is not that much, especially when part of that is spaying.

All our dogs have needed several hundred dollars' worth of vet attention at the beginning - which is exactly why I balk at paying $400 just to bring the dog home!

allan said...

When we fostered Puppy, we had her spayed, bought a crate and many other supplies, and handed them all over to the new family, and never expected to be ... When I told this to the Miss'a Rescue Group, the woman said she had never heard of such a thing in 15 years of working with animal rescue. I can't say whether that's true or an exaggeration.

I can't believe she's never heard of anyone doing that before -- especially while working with people clearly prone to volunteering -- though why would she lie about it?

laura k said...

I should have said this earlier, but it's great to have you all validate and confirm my sense that $400 was excessive! You know how it is, you use your best judgment but at the same time you think, is this just me?

laura k said...

I can't believe she's never heard of anyone doing that before -- especially while working with people clearly prone to volunteering -- though why would she lie about it?

I thought she might be exaggerating to make a point. If not, you know what I ascribe it to. It's not nice.

johngoldfine said...


This organization above rescued grumpy, deaf, half-blind 14 year-old Max from a SC kill'shelter' and then moved him to MD where he was fostered for a few weeks and had some skin polyps removed and a thorough grooming and physical.

We heard aobut him through the fosterer, my sister-in-law. Petconnect arranged to have Pilotsnpaws


fly him from MD to ME. Max looked pretty pleased to be in the copilot seat taxiing across the airstip in Belfast.

Total cost to us: $295, and they asked if we would like to give their 501 (c)3 a tax-deductible donation, which seemed like a good idea.