DEAR DR. FOX: I recently lost my dog. She was 16 years old. I really miss her. I have another dog who is 7, and he misses her, too. Both Chihuahua mixes. I've been looking around for a similar dog to adopt -- nothing fancy, just a small mixed-breed adult.
I've been looking on Petfinder, and all the dogs are in "rescue organizations" that seem to keep the dogs in foster homes and charge anywhere from $450 to $600 to adopt one. A "choice" dog like a purebred or puppy is sometimes more.
What is going on? All my dogs have been rescued from Humane Society shelters. The fee was usually $50 to $150, depending on the dog's age.
I have no problem paying an adoption fee: It is actually a bargain, since the dog is neutered, vet-checked and has his shots. But $450 to $600 seems a bit exorbitant. Am I right in thinking that these organizations are "adopting" highly desirable dogs from shelters and then readopting them for a profit?
In one way, these high fees could protect the dogs from being adopted by just anyone. But in another way, they are discouraging legitimate adopters who can't afford the fee.
I've also noticed that if I do see a dog I am interested in at a shelter, it is gone immediately. I think they may be getting snapped up by these rescue organizations. Small dogs, especially, since they are highly adoptable.
I'm just curious if you have noticed this trend. -- L.D.R., Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania
DEAR L.D.R.: Many people are surprised at the fees involved in adopting a dog or cat from legitimate, nonprofit shelters and rescue organizations today. But their costs are significant, including operational overhead, heating/air-conditioning, staff salaries, animal food, medications, vaccinations, spaying/neutering, etc.
In many communities, as you have noticed, there are animal rescue networks whose volunteers foster animals in their homes (after the animals' veterinary needs have been provided). Again, there are obvious costs involved, but fostering is certainly a humane alternative to keeping stressed animals in cages or kennels at shelters until they are either adopted or euthanized. Additional costs can be incurred when animals must be transported from overcrowded shelters in some states to others.
That said, I do consider it unethical for organizations to visit animal shelters, take the most adoptable animals and then charge outrageous fees for the "cream of the crop," as you describe. Such unscrupulous groups often give little or no money to help the shelter operations from where these selected animals originated.
DOG BITE PREVENTION
Dogs bite about 4.5 million people in the U.S. every year, with about 800,000 bites serious enough to require medical attention, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Even the friendliest dog can bite if startled or in pain. The best way to avoid being bitten is to learn dog body language, says veterinarian Cristal Carey. Avoid startling dogs or approaching them when they are eating or playing with a favorite toy. (Full story: KOIN-TV, Portland, Oregon)
HELP PROTECT THE WOLVES
A statement from Howlingforwolves.org:
"Wolves in Wisconsin have been slaughtered, and are scheduled for another horrific trapping and hounding season this fall. And (in September), the killing began in Montana. Idaho allows year-round wolf hunting of adults and pups, and permits the use of snares. Wyoming continues its brutality with year-round wolf killing in 85% of the state's land, and scheduled wolf-hunting "seasons" in the other 15%.
"We are asking everyone to contact their members of Congress and federal officials through ReListWolves.org to tell them to relist wolves on the federal Endangered Species List. The wolf has no time and must have an emergency relisting. We need to restore protections for our nation's gray wolves."
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxOneHealth.com.)