I recently began volunteering at my local Humane Society animal shelter. As a lifelong pet parent who has adopted from shelters, I've always been well aware of the wonderful animals available at shelters, but I must admit that I had not previously fully considered the extent to which adopting from a shelter can reduce the cost of pet ownership. Volunteering has been a truly rewarding experience that has also educated me about the added value inherent in shelter adoption.

Lower Cost

Pets adopted from shelters or rescue groups tend to cost less than pets purchased at a store or breeder and, in the long run, even less than ones obtained for free from a friend or neighbor or a stray you have rescued. This is because the shelter pet adoption fee usually includes a lot of extras. For example, the $50 kitten fee and the $135 puppy fee at my Humane Society includes spaying or neutering, flea and tick treatment, preliminary vaccinations and de-worming, overall wellness check, heartworm testing (dogs), Feline Leukemia test (cats), microchip identification, pet behavior counseling, 10 day follow-up veterinary care, and a complimentary bag of pet food!

Better Health

While the largest pet store chains in America do not sell puppies, plenty of other stores that do usually get them from puppy mills. Puppy mills are basically commercial breeders who mass produce puppies as a cash crop, that is, for sheer profit. In the name of profit, puppies live in cramped, unsanitary conditions without adequate food, water, or socialization and receive little to no veterinary care which often leads to poor health and disease, in sharp contrast to shelter puppies. This translates into higher veterinary costs down the road for the pet shop puppy parent. Purebred cats such as Himalayans and Persians, rabbits, and even guinea pigs are also commonly bred for profit in "mills" under similar conditions.

25% of shelter pets are purebreds

If you are interested in a specific breed of dog or cat, you could save a bundle by checking your local animal shelter before going to a breeder. Shelters get new animals every single day, so at any given time various breeds are available. If they don't have what you're looking for today, they very well might tomorrow. Also, breed-specific rescue groups have plenty of purebreds looking for a new home. Use the advanced-search feature at theshelterpetproject.org to locate a specific breed in a shelter near you.

Consider a mixed breed

Mixed breeds tend to be healthier than purebreds which are prone to a lot of congenital and hereditary conditions due to inbreeding. Orthopedic problems like hip dysplasia, blood disorders such as anemia and Von Willebrand disease, respiratory disorders, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, higher risks of cancers, and even epilepsy are common. This is not to say that you shouldn't adopt a purebred, but it is advisable to conduct advance research on the common health issues afflicting your breed of choice and to consider whether or not you can afford the hefty medical bills that are more likely to accompany that pedigree.

Better socialized pets

Shelter animals are thoroughly screened for behavioral issues before they are offered for adoption.  Also, most people who have surrendered their pet to a shelter have done so because they could no longer care for the animal due to some type of personal problem such as job loss, moving/landlord issues, or health problems — not because of behavioral issues on the part of the pet. These are well socialized, family-ready pets, which increases the chance of a successful transition into your home.

Lower cost pet supplies

I have saved money by buying my cat's supplies at the shelter versus the pet store, while simultaneously supporting a worthwhile non-profit organization. I even purchase her 6 month supply of Revolution flea treatment at the shelter's clinic for only $65 — a considerable savings over the vet.

Additional Information

  • Search 13,768 adoption groups for dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, and other animals at petfinder.com.
  • Search for dogs, cats, and other animals or find a shelter or rescue group at adoptapet.com.
  • Bear in mind that the goal of shelters and rescue groups is finding good homes for millions of homeless animals, not profit.

This is a guest post by Deidre from Dania Beach, FL
Find out more about the KCL Contributor Network!

How Adopting a Shelter Pet Can Save You Money