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Fair price for shelter dogs?

I saw dogs at area shelters going for as much as $300 - $500.

We adopted Buddie from ACCT in Philly for $40.

We quickly learned that Buddie had severe kennel cough and 3 different types of worms. $500 later he is 100% healthy and can now begin obedience training. We adopted him about an hour before closing time and in our quick initial meeting he appeared very healthy and didn't cough. I'm not sure if ACCT would have spent the money to make him healthy or just euthanized him. He had only been at ACCT for a week when we adopted him so I'm not sure how much they knew about his condition.

$500 is not something we had or wanted to spend on a puppy but once we left with him he was ours and it would be impossible for us to turn our backs on him. So pit mix rescue dog ended up costing $540.


I volunteer for a rescue and our dogs are usually $150. For the most part, we put more than $150 in each dog, so we are losing money. $300-$400 would probably help us break even, but we just don't think that is an acceptable amount to charge.

Henry 10.6.09
Eleanor 2.17.12


Good Dog
I think one of the things you have to consider when discussing fair price for something is the cost of living in the area. Things are going to cost more in NYC than Philadelphia. It's just a given. That being said...

For Abby's adoption we paid $375 (I think, may have been $325) which included vax, spay, chip and shipment over 800 miles.
For a dog from a rescue, I'd be willing to pay up to $250-$300.
For a shelter dog, I wouldn't want to pay more than $125 (assuming dog is at least vax'd & speutered - I'd be willing to pay more if the dog had more invested in it)- ironically this means I would not adopt from the shelter I work for as our adoption fees are $150 and $200 which IMO is too much considering what is not done with the dogs.

I have read research that shows a correlation between purchase price and length of stay in home (dogs purchased for more than $100 stay in their homes longer, suggesting that more stay in their homes permanently), so I understand why the adoption fee would be over that amount.

If I'm spending more than $300, it's because I personally know the rescue/foster and am confident that the dog will excel at something that I'm looking for or I'm going to a breeder.

This is very true. I actually live almost exactly between those 2 cities, about an hour from each. My husband and I just adopted Albert from a rescue based in NYC. His adoption fee was 375, I wrote the check for 500 without a second thought because i thought they seemed to be doing a great job choosing dogs to pull, providing medical care etc, but also really thoroughly getting to know their dogs before finding good matches. They do sleep overs between foster homes to get an even better idea of how each dog responds to different situations. Albert was fostered with 2 special needs children, a single mom, a cat and 2 elderly toy dogs. He also spent the night with another foster with three younger bully mutts. (not that he is perfect with all of those animals, but we have some idea where to expect issues. He is soooo awesome with people)
He was in foster care for almost a year, and boarded for 3 months when his lined up foster got ill just as they pulled him. He overcame a lot of severe ear infections and I am sure they spent a whole lot more than 375 dollars on him during the 14 months he was in the rescue's care. He also came home neutered and microchipped. When they realized they had had him long enough that he was due for shots a week after we adopted him they offered to pay the 150 dollar vet bill, but we said of course not. We have easily spent 1000 dollars all told getting him home, taking him to the vet, buying him toys, food, etc. I haven't even gotten him a fancy collar yet, because I think my husband would leave me:blush:. all very worth it to me to have a 22 month old housebroken dog!
Our particular foster was trying it for the first time and honestly the rescue thinks it was a bit too much for her. They have decided not to use her again after this, but that is a whole other long story. The only reason I mention it is that ideally I would have also gotten a dog with some basic commands down. I don't mind starting from the beginning, his natural unshaped temperament is so awesome and he is maybe the first smart dog I have ever personally owned, but often you don't have to when working with a really good rescue.


Good Dog
One other thing, I was happy also to pay a higher fee this time because WE had to work so hard to prove ourselves worthy of this little mutt. Multiple phone interviews with both of us, a very long and detailed application and a very thorough home visit before we even got to go meet the dogs we were interested in. then they talked me through the difficult decision of which of two dogs we were interested in would be a better match for us and our lives. They called all 3 of my non related references and really talked to them for longer than any of them were expecting! They called our vet to talk to her about what kind of owners we were to Luigi. They have already offered advice when I reached out about a small issue we were having with him behavior-wise and talked to all volunteers who had spent time with him. All of their input help. When I think of the human volunteer labor involved in getting this one adoption right, it seems like a really good deal to me.


Our rescue dog was free. They were waiving adoption fees for Christmas.

That raised a red flag for me but I just had to meet her since she was/is exactly what we were looking for on paper. She came spayed, had a rabies shot, had hookworms, and microchipped. The rescue said she was utd on ALL vaccines but our vet wanted 2 distemper shots within 3-4 weeks since she was under a year old. And I never got a straight answer on heartworm preventative, only that she tested negative 6 months prior. All that to say, I knew I was walking into a $250 vet bill which is what I would have gladly paid to the rescue had they done everything.

I haven't decided if I'm going to make a sizable donation to that rescue when I receive the proceeds from a property sale. They did save her but I don't know if that would make their situation better or worse.