While a year of social distancing and self-isolating has been hard on most of us, there’s one group that’s seemed to find the silver lining - shelter animals across the country. In fact, pet adoptions across America have spiked throughout the pandemic. For example, the SPCA Los Angeles saw double their usual number of adoptions in June 2020, with up to 13 adoptions a day.1
Thinking about adopting a pet of your own this year? Here’s what to remember about the costs of pet adoption, plus six ways to save on fees.
A Reminder About Pet Adoption Fees
If you’ve decided to add a furry friend to your household, deciding to adopt can be an economical option and rewarding experience. It’s important to be prepared, however, to pay an adoption fee for your new companion. This can vary greatly, but typically it will be a couple hundred dollars per pet. As a reminder, these fees are there to help shelters cover the cost of rescue and recovery as well as offer a good-faith promise that you are able and willing to care for your new pet.
If you attend an adoption event or fundraiser, some shelters may offer discounted adoption fees. But with in-person gatherings limited amidst the pandemic, there are other alternatives to help off-set the adoption cost for new pet owners.
How to Save on Adoption Costs
Way #1: Breed Selection
Different breeds, species, health statuses and age can affect the costs of adoption. If you’re looking for a particular breed or feature in a dog or cat, put in a request with several shelters in your area. Depending on what you’re looking for, you could get lucky with finding exactly what you want, or you may be offered something close - such as a mixed-breed animal.
Keep in mind that being specific in your adoption requests could mean waiting much longer for a new pet than if you remain open-ended in your search for a dog or cat. Either way, adopting a certain breed through a shelter or foster system will almost always be less expensive than buying from a breeder.
Way #2: Adopt an Older Animal
If you are serious about adopting a pet, be sure to visit the shelter regularly. Adult animals traditionally have lower adoption fees - as more adopters opt for puppies or kittens. But shelters want to get these pets back into family environments as soon as they are able, which can make them more likely to lower their fees.
Way #3: Consider Retired Working Pets
At some point, even pets retire from a long career. Racing greyhounds, over-eager guide dogs or K9 unit trainees may no longer serve their original purpose, but they need a loving home nonetheless. Each one has distinct personality qualities and an eagerness to continue using these learned skills.
You may be able to adopt an animal from organizations directly, which could help you bypass typical adoption fees.
Way #4: Health Intervention Pets
Medical animals have a long history of helping individuals with certain conditions or disabilities - such as diabetes or seizures. If a health intervention pet is something that may be beneficial for you or a member of your family, the cost of obtaining this pet could qualify as a medical deduction. The purpose, of course, needs to meet the IRS regulations for pet expenses along with official authorizations from a medical practitioner.
Pet owners have come to rely on these trained pets. Besides being older, most are housebroken and taught to function in a home, easing the transition. You will likely need to obtain this type of animal from a specialized organization, not a shelter.
Way #5: Foster an Animal
Shelters have limited spaces in their facilities, and some animals may require extra attention or training. Many shelter systems rely on volunteers to help foster animals, such as newborn litters, pregnant animals and animals with behavioral issues. From time to time, injured or disabled animals need some extra time to heal before they can be adopted.
Most shelters will cover the costs of food and medical care associated with fostering an animal. If you have the time and willingness to help animals in need of extra assistance, fostering could be the right choice. Once the animal is old enough, socialized or healed of injury, they will be available for adoption.
Way #6: Included Veterinary Fees
Most shelters will guarantee that an adoptable pet is up-to-date on certain vaccinations, medicines and check-ups. Knowing that your pet is already microchipped, spayed or neutered and up-to-date on vaccinations may help justify the adoption fee.
Every animal deserves a loving and responsible home. And if quarantine and stay-at-home orders have taught us anything, it’s that companionship is important to not only humans but also to animals. If you are considering adoption, take the time to get acquainted with the pet, and be sure the dog or cat fits your lifestyle, home setting and your family members. Remember you’re choosing more than just an animal – it's a partner, a friend and a protector.