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The Saving Power of Fee-Waived Adoptions
Research done at the Edmonton Humane Society (EHS) by the ASPCA's Dr. Margaret Slater confirms that fee-waived cats are just as loved and valued as ones with a price tag.
The study from November 2011 to February 2013 analyzed surveys of 344 adopters who participated in one of six fee-waived events held at the shelter during that time. What makes this research particularly powerful is that it directly compares 138 non fee-waived adopters to 206 fee-waived adopters at the same shelter during the same time period.
Edmonton's fee-waived promotions were often seasonal, and long-term shelter residents and older cats were always included. "Based on our research, fee-waived adoptions are well worth considering as a way to increase live releases," says Dr. Slater.
Good News for Cats and Shelters
As suggested by the 2006 seminal research on fee-waived cat adoptions by the ASPCA's Dr. Emily Weiss, waiving fees increases adoptions and engages communities to help felines in need.
Waive Fees and Adopters Will Come
Fee-waived events bring out adopters. In addition to those who care about helping cats in shelters, some adopters are moved to action by the thrill of the event; others by the financial savings.
Dr. Karen Lange, director of veterinary services for EHS, says that when events include fee- waived adoptions, a 50 percent increase is generally seen in cat adoptions.
Another piece of good news from the study is that 87 percent of adopters of fee-waived cats considered the length of time a cat had been at the shelter as a factor in selecting their cats, whereas only 13% of regular adopters took that into consideration. This suggests that fee-waived programs entice adopters who are specifically trying to be part of the solution to homeless cats. One study participant said she was saving up to buy a specific breed of cat, "but after hearing about the fee-waived event, I decided to help a cat in need." And another fee-waived adopter was a former Birman cat breeder who decided "to get an ordinary cat who needed a good home."
Several adopters mentioned that they had been considering adopting for months but had done nothing about it. The fee-waived events provided impetus for them to take the plunge.
The study showed that 19 percent of the adopters reported they could not normally afford the adoption fee. An EHS fee-waived adopter described herself as "a woefully underemployed single mother who budgets and saves for monthly cat care, so the fee-waived event made a big difference for me."
However, the research also showed that even among those who could afford to pay the adoption fee, 30% said they would prefer a free cat. On top of that, Slater's research discovered that fee-waived adopters were much more likely to make a donation to EHS than non fee-waived adopters.
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Photo courtesy of Stan Mah