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When Fees Break Hearts

An owner does not have the funds to reclaim his beloved dogs from your shelter… Dr. Emily Weiss wants to know how your organization would handle this situation.

 

A few weeks ago a news story came out as a ‘feel good’ piece around the holidays. The gist of it goes like this—an older veteran who is financially insecure has a significant heart attack, and his dogs end up becoming custody of the shelter. After a lengthy recovery, the man finds his dogs still at the shelter but does not have the necessary funds to adopt his dogs back. So a couple of folks associated with the shelter raise the money, and he is reunited with his dogs in a heartwarming video.

A colleague sent me the story along with this note, “The man is a veteran with very little, and these dogs are his whole world! Why didn’t they give him his dogs back immediately?” I suspect that the fees somehow had become a proxy for how much someone cares or is able to care for… And with a focus on the dogs, it was likely difficult for the shelter to shift the focus to that human and see how priceless waiving the fees could be.

The idea that paying a fee somehow increases the likelihood someone will care or do right by their pet is an idea without data to support it. In fact, we know that in the realm of adoptions, waiving the fee has no impact on attachment, nor does it change the likelihood that the owner will bring the pet to the vet, get him vaccinated, or even determine where the pet sleeps in the home (most sleep in our bedrooms)!

But this should be even clearer with someone who already owns the pet and is actively working to be reunited with that pet.

While the example I used above is an extreme (but unfortunately real) example, it is not uncommon for fees to restrict a person from being able to be reunited with his or her dog or cat. Return-to-owner fees can be quite pricey – and for those living in poverty, raising that type of cash can be an insurmountable obstacle. Here—right here—we have a chance to leapfrog to our collective goal of a more humane and just world. We can choose to break two hearts, or we can choose to waive the fees and reunite a family.

When asked why not waive fees, the responses I have heard tend to be either that the dog/cat cost money each day he is there, so the fees are needed to recoup revenue, or that the fees will essentially work as a motivator next time so that the person is less likely to be ‘irresponsible.’

The first argument regarding revenue—while high fees can sure help with revenue, the cost to care for that pet if the person does not reclaim him is certainly higher than the loss of the fees.

The second argument makes me curl into a ball and rock a bit. Many of us have lost a pet—it can happen in a blink of an eye, and it can happen for all sorts of reasons. Our research on lost pets found that the majority of folks who lost a pet did not anticipate their pet could get lost in that manner. Shifting from a penalizing system for those who have lost their pet to a supportive system designed to ensure pets and their people are reunited may mean that a small portion of fees must be generated in another area of the system. But for organizations whose mission includes such words and phrases as “compassionate,” “save more lives” or “humane community,” it seems prudent to move to such a system.

 

How does your organization handle situations like the one I describe above? We would love to hear your thoughts.

 

Related Links

Blog: “Who Needs Shelter and Who Just Needs a Helping Hand?”
Tools: Safety Net Programs

You Might Also Like

Saving Lives Adoption Programs

Comments

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Three cheers Emily. How can we be promoting "forever pets" and then break up a family that has fallen on hard times? A third reason I often hear from municipal shelters is that the shelter is not allowed to waive fees. Shelter directors must be given the authority to make wise and compassionate decisions for the benefit of the community.

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While I appreciate your comments I can see the pros and cons. I am the rescue coordinator for our local Humane Society and work closely our city kill shelter to make sure animals are placed and not euthanized. I see many of these types of situations, and many times this is the 3rd, 4th or even 5th time they have been back in the shelter and that is usually when owners decide they will no longer "fork out the money" to take their dog back. We do have a compassionate director in our shelter who will give dogs back to owners with only a first offense. We have to remember though that the dogs on the streets are the dogs in danger. City shelters do have to work within the confines of their budgets, and as much as we would not like to think about these facilities as a business they in fact have employees with benefits and the funds have to come from somewhere. I also have to wonder if you can't pay $50 to get your dog back when was the last time he was vaccinated or had a quality food?

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I'm an ACO at an animal shelter and your comments are SPOT ON! We love to see lost animals reunited with their families....but on the same note when paying a $20 redemption fee is an issue what happens when the animal needs to see a vet, etc? It's not always so simple!

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If the shelter takes the 20 dollars then I guess that's 20 less the owner will have for meeting the pet's needs. As charitable organizations shelters have the option of setting up a fund for these situations. They also have grants available for setting up such funds. Poor people don't necessarily have such options. I would rather fund the 20 dollars to keep a family together than spend many hundreds to cycle another animal through a sheltering system.

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bravo. Well-said.

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If you work in the area of rescue, you should know that a dog picks their owners. If a Vet has the dog for assistance for doing things for owner or if it is mental issues then have the VA or his/her primary doctor it may be a situation that the VA can help with. Being a Vet with animals for emontional help to me and I know how much they help me just keeping my normal. Vets has paid a heavy price to keep the nation safe and then we are forgoten. So if the vet has an dog it helps the Vet live a better life. I do not feel that it is to much to ask the pound/shelter to return that animal without the heavy fines they ask! Their are several agencies that help Vets and I would contact these to see if a program can be made to handle these type of situation. Times are very hard and money is tight, but if a person put his/her life on the line for this country, WHY CAN'T THIS COUNTRY DO A SMALL THING FOR THEM.

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Your last few statements are totally unfair. I live on the edge financially the last few years, but I would be heartbroken if someone deemed me unworthy to have my 2 dogs (whom I love and need desperately). Both of my dogs are utd on vaccines, and I stretch to feed them the best quality kibble I can, topped with whole unprocessed foods that make up my own diet. I walk them 2-4 miles per day, and sleep touching them at night. They are the world to me.
However, if one of them got away during a walk, or ran away after a squirrel when I open the door...I would be hard pressed to pay much to get them back. Does that mean that I should not own dogs, or that I'm an irresponsible owner? I'm not a veteran either...so does that mean I'm any less deserving of dog ownership and love? Point being...my dogs, though "poor", lead healthy, loved, attention filled lives.

Now consider my more affluent upstairs neighbors with their expensive, backyard bred, 6 month old shih-tzu. They can afford to give anything money can buy to their dog. But their dog never sees the light of day. It is trained to potty pads, living soley in a dark apartment. And they insist on feeding Purina Puppy Chow alone, because that is what their "breeder" said was best. If that pup ever got loose it would be terrified and definitely at risk for flight. Only if it was extremely lucky would it even make it to an animal shelter. But if it did...they could pay for it instantly. Should it be given back to a home like that?

My point is...both dogs are loved, and both have imperfect homes. But both are generally, safe and adequately cared for during their lives. Should I be denied my dogs (if they end up in a shelter)because I can't afford the best vet care money can buy? Should they be denied their puppy because they feed him crap and keep him in a dark apartment 24/7?

The rescue community should become less judgmental and more helpful to folks who struggle to keep their much loved pets. They should try everything possible to keep pets in their home (whether the owner is a veteran or not). If that means waiving a $50 fee, fine. If that means helping a family who keeps losing their dog to raise money for a fenced yard, fine. Try to help pet owners, not judge them.

True...some people cannot be helped for whatever reason. But this should be a conclusion arrived at AFTER trying to resolve any problems. This should not be hard, fast, and instant policy where pet owners are judged by the fact that their dog is found in an emergency situation.

Education, spay/neuter regulations, restrictive breeding should be ALL animal shelter's and rescue's first priority. Only by working on these issues will we increase the value of dog to its owner. Otherwise society is simply fighting individual battles...but never winning the war.

Ease up....live and let live...and even help live.

By the way, I practice what I preach. I'm fostering 2 Chihuahua's currently. Their human has a 2 month old, lost her housing, lost her job, and... has a husband in rehab. I know little about her except that she needs temporary help. Would you like me to judge her...or do what I can to help? Or....do you want 2 more Chihuahuas to place into a new home along with all the other dogs you care for?

Julie McDowell

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Bless you, Julie.

Comment

You said what was in my own heart...and did it beautifully. I'm in a similar situation...and wold have a difficult time paying a fee to reclaim my animals BECAUSE my money is spent to provide them with everyay care.

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Very good article and many good points were made. Glad you posted it. Keep doing what you are doing.

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Well said, Julie. And thanks for fostering those Chihuahuas!

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VERY WELL SAID!! In fact, PERFECTLY stated.

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I have seen many less affluent pet owners do without extras for themselves in order to ensure that their pet has what they need, be it better quality food, medicine, etc. Love is most important, both from the human to the pet and the therapeutic benefits of the pet's love on the human. We all need to do what we can. Julie, your post here is spot on.

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Very well said !

Comment

Great response Julie!! Many people sacrifice some of their own needs to make sure their pets have the basic necessities, but the one thing you can't put a price tag on is the unconditional love that humans give to their fur babies and vice-versa. And, I agree that sometimes when people are living paycheck-to-paycheck that coming up with a large amount of reclaim fees is difficult. Like you said, your dogs may be "poor", but are loved!!! And THANK YOU again for helping and sacrificing what you have in order to make sure those little chihuahuas have a temporary place to stay where I'm sure they are being spoiled until their owner "lands" on her feet!!! I'm sure she is very grateful!

Comment

I happen to agree with this. Many times it is the 3rd 4th or 5th time that animal has been in the shelter. Many times the breaks have been given in the beginning to make it easier for the owners. I think that the example used in the article is a bit extreme, and concessions can always be made in situations such as this.

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The point is that exceptions often aren't made.

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Well said Toni. Exactly what I was thinking.

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yup. I'm NEIGHBORHOOD CATS trained...in NW Bronx/NYC. We've had "much the same" with many of the SAME families. Someone in the family, usually a pre-teen or younger "finds" a kitten..takes it home...NEVER calls me/us for info. on spay/neuter and WHAMMO...even though we spayed/neutered all of the cats from 1-2-3 years ago...yet ANOTHER pregnant cat. Some people need to be spay/neutered! It is, at a minimum, "frustrating"...and they LIE if you ask them straight out to PLEASE call me/us. After the 3rd...4th time..you KNOW they're just screwing with you and plain ass lazy. It's the same with the "old lady hoarders"...who "don't want the cat's to have kittens"...mostly because they "like the kittens". Aaargh!

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I happen to work for a shelter and while there are rules and restrictions, our director is the most compassionate and tender-hearted woman ever. I have no doubt that she would waive the fees without hesitation!

Comment

I had fallen and could not manage the day to day duties of caring for my three cats. The people who helped with house work were disgusted with the ordinary duties of cleaning the litter and neglected my cats and nagged me constantly to "get rid of them." Consequently, I surrendered them to the local shelter.

I had one very Beautiful, black female who was finally coming to me for a cuddle but was terrified of strangers. I worried that she might have a problem getting acclimated to shelter living so I called first thing next morning an asked how she was doing. I was told she would not eat and was very hostile towards the staff. After I hung up, I told my human caregivers that I would call the next morning but if she was not doing better, I was going to go get her, even if I had to go in a cab (I can no longer drive myself). When I called the shelter I was told she had already been killed.

They gave her less than one day. I am heartbroken. Dead is dead and there is no undoing the finality of death. I told the shelter person that when I was better, I would like to get a kitten from them. I was told that I would not be allowed to ever take another animal because I had proven irresponsible in surrendering the ones I had. I thought the shelter was a responsible substitute until I could manage the animal care.

I will also suggest the shelter will give a written declaration of its policy for animals accepted by them.

Comment

We return the stray pet to the owner and give the owner 30 days to pay the RTO fees. We will allow people to make payments, and as long as they're making progress, we do not turn them over to collections (which rarely yields payment anyway). We want those pets to go home with their families, but we need the revenue as well. We have to be financially solvent to care for the pets who will need us next month, next year. More than that, we are a small community where we routinely encounter repeat offenders and - especially frustrating - those who delay retrieving their pets if they are not motivated by mounting fees or the threat of collections.

Philosophically speaking, are we really serving the best interest of the pet when we return the animal 2, 3, 4 times and the owner has racked up hundreds in unpaid fees as a result of multiple day stays and multiple trips?

Comment

Very well said Wendy. Unfortunately for the Animal Control profession, we are seen as the "bad guys". It's pretty safe to say that ALL AC agencies and shelters want what is best for the animals. When you have an owner that does not realize or care that each time he/she allows their pet to run loose, they are endangering it, and others. In these cases, the owner NEEDS to be penalized. It is no longer a just case of funds, but it turns into an opportunity to place the animal in a home that can provide a more safe environment. People need to see that not everyone is loving and caring as they would like. It is not always a case of the "big bad government" taking money from people.

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That's wonderful that you allow people to take their pets and make payments. The "repeat offenders" you mention appear to be part of a bigger problem. The shelter isn't a daycare for lazy or irresponsible owners but it sounds like they take for granted that their pet is safe until they decide to claim them. But what can you do aside from allowing someone else to adopt the pet if they aren't picked up within a certain time frame? Even so, I imagine since it is a smaller community there are fewer potential adopters.

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I agree. I hate having to tell good people (the terrible pet owners are a different story) that they have to pay a fee to get their lost pet back. Most of the time people don't care all that much and they're just happy to know their pet is safe, but it still makes me feel awful. The problem is, with our shelter's arrangement, we either have the owners pay the fee, or the shelter pays the fee. The shelter doesn't keep the fines the people pay, that goes to the municipalities, and they collect it one way or the other, and in the most expensive municipalities, a reclaim fee for a first offense easily pays for two spays. Not much when it's just one reclaim, but it adds up to quite a substantial amount over the course of a year, especially if there are repeat offenders.

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Could you not have it set up so that owners that can't afford to pay for their dogs that they volunteer time at the shelter to help. This way people that are homeless feel important and people that can't pay can see the importance of taking care of the animal and also see what happens the animals?

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I really like the idea of having folks pay off with volunteer work. It is a chance for education of the owner. Yes, it might be an administrative nightmare...but worthwhile projects usually are.

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That's an excellent suggestion! I wish shelters would do this. It sounds like a win-win to me, but I'm sure there'd be many shelters who'd have some beaurecratic red-tape issue with it.

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You have taken an incident that found its way into a public agency and seem to be chastising government policy. Would you like all government agencies to bend rules, or just animal service agencies? That is exactly how corruption and inefficiency gets started, and how animal services budgets are reduced by elected officials—or worse: considered corrupt.
Please, before anyone sheds tears, find out the financial situation of the people involved. Some of the worst animal offenders claim financial hardship, snooker the intake people and do indeed milk the system. This situation should have been handled by the multiple nonprofits who pull and foster animals until the owner can either handle them or relinquish them.
Frankly, I’m appalled at the position this blog takes. I disagree that shelter directors should be able to bend rules under the umbrella that only they set as “compassionate” or for the “benefit of the community.” Wendy Kang’s response is more of a reality check. We’ve seen such abuse of the systems that I find this blog hard to believe.

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Katie – We are not suggesting that an organization bend the rules, but instead maybe to change the rules with an eye of the goal of keeping pets and their people together.

Emily Weiss, Ph.D. CAAB
Vice President of Research and Development
ASPCA

Comment

Dr. Weiss, as an Executive Director of an animal shelter I feel therr are many points you do not touch on. Most shelters charge a reclaim fee because of the expense it takes to care for the animal as well as provide vaccinations upon intake. Not because we do not want to reunite pet with the owners. Your article would have been more credible if you would have considered doing a cost analysis of the actual cost to shelters of the amount you think we should give away for "free" by not charging reclaim fees. 90% of the people that come to our facility indicate they cannot afford the reclaim fee, however, when push comes to shove they come up with the money. It doesn't seem it is a matter of money more than a matter of priority. We live in a society where no one is held accountable, and your article seems to continue to encourage that. Why should my shelter staff not receive raises for the great work they do in order to give away free services? We receive strays in on a weekly basis whereas an animal has been hit by a car or which involve other accidents. The vet expense of caring for these strays is enormous. If a shelter does not make money in order to provide services, chances are high no shelter will be there next time a stray dog is found. I would encourage you the next time you write an article to provide arguments to both sides through research versus just providing opinions in order to come up with more viable and sound solution. As much as all of us would like to run a shelter with our hearts, it is just not possible to do this and stay sustainable long-term.

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Thank you. This story infuriated me, particularly because the man's dogs ended up in the shelter because he was in an accident; there was no "irresponsibility" involved even to the most judgmental eye.

I saw this being shared all over as a feel-good story; it made me feel pretty damn bad (albeit grateful he got his dogs back).

Comment

Please reconsider the fees, or ask them to volunteer time at the shelter to help out.

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On this one, as far as our organization is concerned, you’re preaching to the choir. :D While we can’t do anything about the town impound fees that we have to charge because of our contracts with local municipalities, we waive our own claim fees fairly frequently, as we prefer to have the animals with their owners in their own homes rather than languishing here just to make some kind of point. And as the article states, it would cost us more to keep the animal here and feed/house/care for it. Besides, if we're thinking about recouping care expenses, claim fees amount to less than a drop in the bucket. (Repeat offenders...that's a different topic. If you have someone who loses their animal that frequently, there's a different problem - and frankly, a larger problem - than how much money they're racking up.)

Yes, we’re here to serve the animals, but we’re also here to serve our community — if we don’t, exactly who/what are we saving all these animals for?

Comment

I worked at a private, non-profit that was ready to euthanize a homeless man's dog because he couldn't come up with $50 balance of the RTO fee. No waiving it, no payment plan, just no. His dog was healthy but not adoptable. Thankfully a local church helped this man. I no longer work there.

At my current, municipal shelter, the boss gives the ability to the front office staff to waive fees when appropriate. Homeless, minimum wage earners, unemployed and those of us who live paycheck to paycheck can provide for our animals but can't afford a sudden $100+ RTO fee. Some of these animals are not adoptable so how can we euthanize an animal just because of money?? From a financial point of view, it costs less to return the animal for free than euthanize it. From a human/moral/compassionate point of view, it's just the right thing to do.

We had a homeless man who would periodically get arrested (drunk, camping, who knows, none animal related) and his dogs would end up at the shelter, subsequent to the arrest. The dogs were altered (we did that), vaccinated (we did that, too), well fed (we helped with donated dog food) and the dogs were definitely HIS dogs (the reunion was always happy). The dogs were his lifeline. He got his dogs back for free each time. When we think of "what's in the best interest of the animal?" in this case, it was to return the dogs. When one of his dogs had reached the end of his life, we cried with him. When his second dog passed, he did shortly after. We cried again. It was definitely the right thing to do. We are a municipal shelter with a bad ass manager. :-)
That's why I do this job.

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Awesome response Leese! I, too, work at a shelter and your story made me cry! I agree that sometimes pets are a persons' lifeline...they may not have much, but they give the animal unconditional love and that love is returned by the animal. Obviously your shelter saw first hand how much these dogs meant to this man. Kudos for allowing him to keep his fur babies!

Comment

Several years ago my father was visiting and let our two golden's out the back door, not realizing the gate was open. They had a great run, four hours later they showed up at the local humane society, It cost us $100.00 to get them back. The shelter had them less than an hour before we got there! No excuse for this type of fee for that length of time.

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Momwalker first of all did an animal control officer have to go out and retrieve your dogs when they were running? More than likely this is why you were charged the $100.00. I work for a municipal shelter and I work with a lot of repeat offenders who refuse to contain their dogs, who can't understand why their dogs have to be rabies vaccinated & licensed with their county. These are the same people who will tell you they have no money but yet they drive brand new cars etc. We have had people whose dogs have come here because they were rushed to the hospital, in a car accident, having to go to rehab, being arrested etc. In these instances we do not charge animal owners fees, because these were unforeseen incidents that happened. We have helped people find a place to board their pet, for free, while they may have a long stay in the hospital and so forth, we do try and help situations like this as much as we can or we will refer them to someone who is willing to step in and help the animal owner out. Do not condemn municipal shelters because they charge fees, we are the ones who have to deal with the repeat offenders and sometimes this is the only way to get through to them to work on being a more responsible pet owner. I would rather see a pet go home with its owner then have it have to stay at the shelter, we want happy endings just like all rescues and shelters want, but since we are a municipal shelter we have to deal with the safety of people and animals too.

Comment

Coalition to Unchain Dogs pays the fees for residents of our community, Durham,NC, who cannot afford to reclaim their pets from our shelter. When a resident is at the shelter and unable to pay RTO fess, the shelter calls us. As long as the resident agrees to spay or neuter their pet which we also pay for, we pay the fees via credit card over the phone and the owner takes their pet home that day. In 2015 we helped over 75 people reunite with their pets. Only one person I spoke with refused our help because he didn't want to spay. Our shelter is happy to have us as a resource to get owned pets out of the shelter and back into their homes. If their dogs are at the shelter because they escaped through their fence or broke free from a tether, we are able to follow up and repair the fence or build them one.

Comment

It has been many years since I have had any working involement in animal protection and had never until recently thought about the fees. The change occurred because of the death of our dog. She had shared our lives for 16 years and many changes took place in pet adoptions I those years. Most of these were in the price to adopt the other was in the attitude toward who was deemed worthy to adopt. In the intervening years my husband had become disabled; I had been crippled for many years. So we were now on a fix income. Some protection groups,although they won't come right out and say it don't seem to adopt to the "low income". I have found that sometimes request for information were ignored,or fees are set so high as to prevent adoption by any but the fairly well off. Reading comments on some sites I am not the only fix income person to find this to be the situation. I consider myself to be a pretty decent pet guardian,and it upsets me that now my fitness as an owner is now measured only by dollar signs.

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I could not agree more with you Felecia. I have seen numerous times rescue groups say things like "well, if they cannot afford our adoption fee, then they cannot afford to own a pet". This really is too bad as many of the pet owners I have worked with over the years have been terrific who live on a fixed income. Having money does not constitute a good pet owner. Shelters and rescue groups that charge a large adoption fee is really not doing themselves any favors or doing good by the animals they so want to help.

Comment

Check with your local municipal shelter. Our shelter does not charge high adoption fees but we do have you sign a contract making sure that you will provide a proper home, food & shelter for your new pet and that you will keep the animal up to date on its vaccines and take them, when needed, to the veterinarian.

Comment

It is time for America to reassess the purpose of "animal control" and "shelters". Originally, they existed to get rid of pesky dogs and cats (running at large, biting, stealing food), and to protect livestock...in the 1800s. In the 21st century, we need to examine why we have impounds and "shelters" (any place that kills animals for any reason other than unrelievable suffering is NOT a "shelter" which is defined as a place of safety...but I digress.) Where I live, it is lawful to kill a $5000 purebred dog if they are threatening your $5 chicken. These priorities are not in line with most of society's current values.
If we are to claim to be a humane society, then we must stop killing pets because the owner cannot afford the fee (I have rescued many dogs whose owners could not afford the hundreds of dollars for a second offense, and so abandoned their dog...which may have been just as well)...but an owner who loves their dog and is denied their companion for some money is wrong. Are we here to help animals and their humans? Or to make money? And continuing that theme, it is well past time to make all animal holding facilities No Kill: it takes more work, but costs less; and when volunteers know that their favorite dog won't be dead the next time they show up, you get more volunteers. http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/?page_id=688

Comment

In a situation such as this story we would waive all fee's and return the animals. I don't see why this should be an issue at all. It is a win win for all concerned - the owner, the animals & the shelter doesn't have to continue to care for animals until they may get adopted.

- - WarmFuzzy's
Rescue Shelter Sanctuary

Comment

We do this on a case-by-case basis. We pretty much waive the fees, discount to a lesser amount, that kind of thing. But we push hard for the pet to be spayed or neutered if it is intact. Dog running at large that is intact male, client talks about how we already gave them a free appointment that they missed, at our clinic, and it makes it harder to return the dog without first altering it, for example.

Comment

we are in South Africa and a lot of shelters do the same no fee paid no animal going home, we work very differently, even with our adoption fees, we look at the situation as a whole and take it from there, example an old lady in a village desperately wanted a cat we let her have one at no adoption fee, almost 5 weeks later our vet tells us an old lady brought one of our cats in for a check up, we were suprised, turns out its been drilled into the village peoples heads that children have to have monthly check ups at the clinic, the cat is her child has a "clinic" vet card and therefore must also have monthly check ups, so Lorenzo went to the vet for a check up. if we had declined her due to her not being able to afford the adopt fee Lorenzo would not have ended up in such a loving home

Comment

We have a rescue group Protecting Animals' Welfare (P.A.W.). in Hancock County, Maine. One of our functions, among many others, is to assist pet caregivers with assistance for medical costs, spay/neuter costs, etc as funding is available. If a pet caregiver contacted us with this situation, I would first speak with the shelter, research the history of the situation (has there been a history of neglect, the animal being reported at large on previous occasions, or other contraindications for returning the pet (in the best interests of the pet) and then, if the investigation indicated that the pet had been well cared for by the caregiver, then P.A.W. would assist the caregiver with some funding to recover his/her pet.

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Kudos to your organization for paying the return fees! I wish we had an organization like that in Lincoln County, Maine

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We would have returned the dog, provided food and followup to make sure the family had what it needed and could remain together. We are a small rescue. We do the "right" thing instead of having a lot of rules. One less homeless dog is well worth the loss of fees. Some of us are paying for the privilege of saving animals. There is always a way to make things happen. Te-think operational costs. It's actually cheaper to waive fees than to feed, shelter, or kill animals.

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We do ask the owner for a donation if we've treated the animal medically, but if the owner can't give us any money we usually waive the fee. These are two incidents in the last month. A cat came in as a stray. A week later the owner came in; he had been out of town. Although, we had neutered, vaccinated, etc., we waived the adoption fee but persuaded him to sign up the cat's brother for our low-cost neuter clinic. A microchipped cat came in. We called the owner who said she gave the cat away 3 years ago, didn't remember the person's name and didn't want the cat back. A week later she changed her mind and wanted her cat. The cat had serious medical issues that we treated over the course of a month. Because she had clearly relinquished ownership years ago, we insisted on her paying the adoption fee.

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