Since beginning rescue, I have heard some variation of this question many times. There are many people, it would seem, who believe that because a dog is a rescue, it should be free.
Then, there are others who realize they will have to pay an adoption fee, but question why it should be so high, or never respond once they learn what it is.
I believe I speak for all of my fellow independent rescuers that none of us is in it to get rich. It's just not possible. Most of us are self-funded, taking money out of our own pockets to care for our dogs. In the interest of transparency, I would like to provide a break down of where your money goes when you adopt a dog:
Almost all of our dogs come from out of state. We generally rescue from southern states where animal laws are non-existent and animals, even puppies, are put down for space. In order to get that animal to us in NY, we pay transporters who can charge anywhere from $185-$225 per crate (the larger the dog, the higher the fee). I have paid as much as $800 to transport two dogs from TX to NY. Because these animals have been in a shelter environment, transporters require that the dogs have been in a 14 day quarantine prior to getting on transportation, just in case they have anything infectious or deadly such as Parvo or distemper. It would be great if local fosters could be found to board dogs, but this is not a reality 99% of the time, so this means they go to a boarding facility for their hold. This can be $25 per day or more (multiplied by 14 days).
Animals are required to have a health certificate prior to boarding transportation. Depending on the age of the dog, they are required to also have a certain number of vaccinations as well as a rabies vaccination if they are four months or older. The vaccinations and health certificate are paid for by the rescue.
In the three years we have been rescuing, I believe there has only been one or two dogs who have come to us without intestinal parasites. We treat them with Panacur and/or Metro and probiotics. These medications are covered by us and sometimes, we also have to take them in for a vet visit if it doesn't appear to be clearing.
When dogs arrive, we house them, groom them, feed them high quality food, start heartworm preventives, provide them bedding and crates, Martingale collars (for training) and leashes. They get toys for mental stimulation and enrichment, as well.
Any vet visits that are needed, we cover. We recently had a dog who needed surgery to repair a congenital defect in his shoulder ($1200) and we have also had to cover Heartworm treatment ($1300) for another. All of these things add up and an adoption fee will never reimburse for those costs.
Know that when you adopt a dog from us, your money is going towards helping us continue fighting the good fight.