How Much Does It Cost To Adopt a Shelter Pet?


Are you looking to add to your family? One of the best — and cheapest — ways to do so is to adopt from a shelter.

Adoption fees range from nothing at all to a couple of hundred dollars, according to Hannah Stember of Best Friends Animal Society, a nonprofit that operates the nation’s largest sanctuary for homeless animals.

“When you adopt, you save money because adoption costs less than buying an animal from a pet shop or a breeder. And doesn’t fund puppy mills,” Stember said.

The $200 to $300 you might pay is a fraction of what you would pay for a dog from a breeder, and there is a great value that comes with adopting, as the shelter or rescue has likely already covered an initial veterinary exam, vaccinations, microchipping and spay or neutering.

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As puppies and more popular breeds tend to be the easiest to re-home, they fetch a higher price. Senior dogs, those requiring extra attention or those that have been at a shelter for 30 days or longer may be priced lower.

Check in with your local shelter to see if they are holding pet adoption events. During campaigns such as Clear the Shelters Day, organizations will reduce or waive adoption fees to find a home for every animal currently within the care.

Make Your Money Work for You

Finally, don’t be surprised if you find yourself on waiting lists at your local animal shelter. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, many shelters have seen interest in adoption rise, along with a decrease in animals being surrendered.

Shelter Animals Count, an independent nonprofit that tracks incoming and outgoing dogs and cats in thousands of shelters across the country, reports adoption rates for dogs climbed to 98% in 2020, 9% higher than the same 2019 time frame of January to November. There was a 21% decrease in dogs being surrendered to shelters or taken in by rescues in 2020.

For organizations like Best Friends, demand outweighing supply is not a bad problem to have, when the goal is to give pups like Major a better life.

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“When you adopt you save not one, but two lives,” Stember said. “The one you adopted, but also the one (you) made space available for at a shelter or rescue group.”

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Last updated: Oct. 20, 2021