Animal Adoption--Costs, Benefits and Considerations

Kate Garvey

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Adopting an animal can be an excellent choice for pet lovers. The advantages of adopting are numerous; costs are lower than buying a pet, animal shelters offer a large variety of companion animals, most mixed breed animals do not inherit breed specific health issues, older animals in shelters already have developed personalities and therefore it’s easier to find a pet that will match with your lifestyle, older pets will be spayed or neutered and vaccinated, you may receive discounts for spay or neuter programs if you adopt a young pet, you can adopt a bonded animal pair or litter mates at reduced cost, and shelter workers are genuinely concerned that you find the right pet for your lifestyle.

Cost of animals and types of animals up for adoption vary by areas. In my area a puppy adoption is $150 and an adult cat is only $60. When you compare the cost of buying a pet, to adopting an animal, it’s much cheaper to adopt. For example typical cost to purchase a puppy are $300-$600, plus first year vaccinations $150-$300 and possibly some health tests not provided by the breeder which can add another $50-$200. Most often when you adopt a puppy from the shelter the adoption fee insures the puppy has already been treated for fleas, passed a health examination, received vaccinations (if the animal is old enough), and has been tested for parvovirus. Some shelters in the south also test dogs for heart worm.

In dogs, distemper, parvo-influenza, and heart worm are terminal illnesses, if they are untreated. Adult cats adopted from the shelter are spayed or neutered, vaccinated for distemper, tested for Feline Aids(FIV) and Feline Leukemia (FELV) (which can both be terminal illnesses), and are treated for fleas. When you compare this with the cost of purchasing a cat ($150-$1000) or taking on a “free kitten", animal adoption again proves to be much cheaper. Typical costs for FIV and FELV testing are $45-$75 for each test, spaying at maturity $45-90, or neutering $30-$75, and first year vaccinations $150-$300. So your “free kitten" can cost more than $500 for the first year of medical care. Additionally, many shelters also test for other diseases such as worms, and the shelter will be open and honest about known disabilities such as hearing or vision impairments.

Shelter employees and volunteers do a great job of helping you pick an animal that is right for your lifestyle. Typically, there are wide varieties of adoptable pets available. Most shelters have dogs and cross-breed puppies ranging from tiny to large, short-haired to fluffy, and personalities that range from shy lap dogs to high energy running companions. Cats selection can ran from large Maine-coon mixes, to high energy Siamese mixes, to fluffy mellow Angoras. My local shelter also services other companion animal adoption such as ferrets, pot belly pigs and goats. Occasionally, shelters have purebred animals available for adoption. (Also, see my article on purebred adoptions).

There are other benefits of adopting an animal from a shelter. Mixed bred animal may be healthier and calmer than some purebred animals. Certain purebred often have genetic disorders (due to the inbreeding). For example, many large purebred dogs develop hip dysplasia (a malformation of the hip joint that causes arthritis). Small purebred dogs with pug noses may develop respiratory disorders. Disorders associated with specific breeds can be found in mixed breed dogs and cats, but are far less likely to occur. Older pets available for adoption from the shelter have developed personalities and therefore it is easier to adopt an animal that will be right for your household. For example, if you have children, the shelter worker will introduce you to the pets that are the best suited to your household. If you’re single and want a jogging partner, the shelter worker can introduce you to a healthy high energy dog companion. You may think you want a dog, but after speaking with a shelter worker, realize your lifestyle is far more suited to an adult cat. Some shelters provide ongoing benefits, such as reduced vaccination cost, reduced training costs or provide a list of auxiliary services.

If you want to select from a wide variety of pets, the best time of year is during spring and early fall which are breeding seasons. Shelters are inundated with strays. Christmas is a bad time of year to adopt an animal for several reasons; many people adopt at this time of year so selection will be limited, it hard on the animal (due to lack of routines and chaos that often accompanies the holiday) and, it’s may curtail your travel plans. (See my article on Christmas animal adoption).

To find an adoption center in your area contact the Humane Association of the United States, check with a local veterinarian, or inquire at a locally owned pet supply stores. Each year the United States destroys more than 4,000,000 companion animals. By adopting an animal from a shelter you are saving a life. However, please consider the long term care required, before you purchase or adopt a pet.

Kate Garvey provides ghost writing services for individuals and business. She is a business entrepreneur, a former vet tech, and has been involved in animal rights and rescue most of her life. Kate is the author of “The Low Risk Guide to Real Estate Investment", and “Aging, Death and Euthanasia-A Guide for People with Pets". Kate provides free articles, information and links for animal care on her website


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