Free to a good home
Many Animal Rescues have been criticized for charging an adoption fee. "If you're so anxious to find homes for these pets," we're told, "you should just give them away."
This attitude makes us shudder. In the first place, these small fees in no way begin to cover the cost incurred for medical treatment and upkeep of the pets we adopt out. Yes, we're anxious to find homes for our animals-GOOD homes. Responsible, knowledgeable, loving homes. And some people who take free pets do provide wonderful homes. However, frequently-much too frequently!--Lab rescues are called in to rescue former "free to good home" animals.
Did you know:
Giving any pet away is misguided. People tend not to value what they don't pay for. If you charge a nominal fee of $35-$45 or more for an animal, the new owner is more likely to take their commitment to the pet seriously. A free pet is a disposable pet!
Paying a fee for a pet shows good faith on the part of the new owner and demonstrates their willingness to properly care for the animal. The truth is, there is no such thing as a "free" pet anyway. By the time a cat or dog is checked out by a vet, including shots, worming, health testing, and spay/neuter, a "free" pet will easily cost in excess of $100, and that's just for starters. A responsible person who would properly take care of an animal will understand this and will not be opposed to paying a reasonable fee for a healthy pet, especially if some or all of these health items have already been taken care of.
Still not convinced? Then ask yourself these questions, "If a person cannot afford to pay an adoption fee for a pet, how will they be able to afford the normal expenses of proper pet care? And how will they ever afford vet bills when the pet gets sick?"
If you are uncomfortable with asking a fee for the pet, consider including food, toys, supplies, etc. as an added incentive. The idea is not to make a profit, but to ensure the good intentions of the new owner. In any event, the animal should be "fixed" and have its "shots" before it is adopted out and these costs alone can easily equal $45 or more. Use the adoption fee to recoup your expenses.
One final thought on this subject - if you absolutely don't want to take any money yourself, ask the adopter to make the check out to a local animal shelter or SPCA instead. These organizations can surely use the help!
1.) People value what they pay for. Pets obtained for free are are less likely to be spayed or neutered by their new owners (why bother with vet bills?), and more likely to be abused and/or discarded, because "there are plenty more where that came from!"
A recent study at one animal shelter yielded the startling statistic that 51% of all owner-surrendered dogs had been purchased for less than $100; 41% of all owner-surrendered dogs had been obtained "Free to good home."
This handsome, well-fed-looking fellow is Brutus, and he was a Lab rescue. Brutus was the pampered friend of "Mark." Brutus and Mark played ball together and walked on the beach together, and, in general, enjoyed each other's company. Then, Mark's company transferred him to a different state. Mark didn't know how to take Brutus with him, or considered it unfair to submit his friend to the trauma of moving, or just plain didn't know that most states DO allow big, good-natured dogs to move in with their masters.
Whatever the reason, Mark placed an ad in his local newspaper: "Free to good home, friendly, lovable black lab." Someone saw the ad, called Mark, and said, "That's just the dog I've been looking for. Can I come over and see him?" The new person was very nice to Brutus, talked to him, rubbed his ears just the way Brutus liked to have his ears rubbed, and convinced Mark that he and Brutus were just made for each other.
This is Brutus's new owner's idea of a good home--at the end of a four-foot chain tied to a rope collar, in a garbage-filled backyard, no water dish or food bowl anywhere in sight. This sweet, loving dog was now 20 pounds underweight, suffering from dehydration, malnutrition, fleas, intestinal worms, mange, fly-chewed ears, heartworm, and, worst of all, neglect.
Luckily for him, neighbors called an animal rescue volunteer, who arrived accompanied by a policeman. The new owner was arrested, charged, and convicted with cruelty to animals. He paid a fine which probably equaled less than Brutus's medical bills.
Brutus went to the vet for all kinds of medicine, then home with the volunteer for lunch. Several years later, he was adopted by the volunteer. He became well and happy and a bit overweight; greeted everyone with a tail wag and a wet kiss. But he still wanted you to remember this story and this photo every time you see an ad that says, "Free to good home."
2.) So-called "Bunchers" gather free pets until they have enough for a trip to a Class B Dealer who is licensed by the USDA to sell to sell animals from "random sources" for research. The Buncher may only get $25 a head for former pets, while a dealer can between $100 - $450 per pet. The Class B dealer probably already has a contract with certain facilities, and will transport them to other areas within a state, even out of state.
While, unfortunately, there are legitimate medical reasons to use some animals in experimentation, the majority of reputable medical labs use animals bred for the specific purpose. However, there are many, many different types of animal "research," and many types of facilities that use dogs. Almost every cosmetic, household, and chemical product is tested on animals, including former pets obtained from shelters and Class B Dealers. Veterinary schools and medical schools, and even some engineering schools use dogs and cats in classrooms and "research." Textile manufacturers who make products for medical use test and demonstrate on dogs, frequently retired racing greyhounds. hounds.
Research facilities that use live animals in testing are supposed to be registered with the USDA (though not all are); the USDA list of such facilities on their website cites 34 in the state of Michigan, mostly colleges and universities, as well as Borgess Medical Center, Dow Chemical, Dow Corning, Pharmacia ∓ Upjohn, etc. (Please note that not all of these use dogs or cats.)
3.) Free animals are taken to "blood" pit-bulls--to train fighting dogs how to kill, and to enjoy it. This can be dogs and cats, of any size--in fact, rescuers suspect that a recently rescued cat was used in this manner. Often, a larger dog's muzzle will be duct-taped shut so that he can't bite back, and the fighting dog will gain confidence in killing a dog larger than he is.
4.) One "adoptor" in this area took free kittens to his "good home"--as dinner for a pet snake.
5.) Un-spayed or unneutered pure-bred dogs may end up as "breeding stock" in a puppy mill. One woman was certain that if she didn't give away her Dalmatians' AKC registration papers along with the dogs, she could keep them safe from millers. Wrong. Unscrupulous breeders, who use puppies as cash crops like other farmers raise cattle, pigs, or chickens, aren't above forging registration papers, or using those from deceased dogs. Rescuers have learned the hard to way to make sure that all pets they place have been spayed or neutered before going to new homes.
6.) So-called "collectors" or "hoarders" watch the newspapers for Free to Good Home animals. These collectors truly believe they are "rescuing" the animals..
Remember--the welfare of pets is in ALL of our hands!