Inky, waiting for his fur-ever home. 

“$200?! Are you kidding me???” If you have ever been fortunate enough to work for or volunteer at an animal rescue shelter, you most likely have heard these words in one form or fashion. Most often they are uttered in a shrill and unbelieving voice followed by a statement similar to “Why so high?” or “Aren’t you a non-profit organization?” Yes, we are non-profit and yes, the adoption fee may seem high but what some do not realize is how much money, blood, sweat and tears goes into each animal’s care.

Generally, when a shelter receives a dog or cat, it is not vaccinated or neutered/spayed and sometimes has a medical condition that needs immediate attention. Guess what? These treatments cost MONEY. Fortunately, HALO has a loyal and dedicated list of veterinarians in Indian River County who provide services at cost or who subsidize in whatever way they can but again, these treatments are NOT free and can add up to thousands of dollars. Additionally, some rescues require countless hours of behavioral training before they can be safely adopted out which is no small cost to HALO’s employees and volunteers.

I was inspired to write this by a fellow animal advocate and rescuer, Molly Chance (great name, right?). She recently posted on social media about an encounter she had with a potential adopter who had a very dramatic (dare we say ridiculous?) reaction to an adoption fee. At a recent adoption event, a woman expressed interest in Mary, a rescue, but when she was informed of her adoption fee (a whopping $250), she recoiled in horror and promptly said to Mary “I would take you home, but you’re too expensive. You’re toooooooo expensive…”

What really made Molly’s narrative stand out was her response, not to the rude woman questioning the cost, but to the lives she saves daily:

“Whether your vet bills were $400 or $10,000, you are worth every single penny. You are worth every single hour I’ve spent caring for you or advocating for you. You are worth every single mile I’ve driven making sure you were safe. You are worth every single stress headache, emotional breakdown, night of lost sleep, or moment of profound grief. You are worth every missed social engagement or trip, you’re worth every disgusting thing I’ve had under my fingernails or in my eye, every ruined piece of property, every scrape, bruise or bite. You were worth giving up a career, and losing a job. You are worth every moment of joy, tribulation and heartache. You’ve been worth every tear I’ve shed for you or because of you. And I will never, EVER send you home with someone who thinks you’re not worth $250.”

At HALO, we are blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful souls who hold the same beliefs as Molly. So the next time someone questions an adoption fee, simply ask them this: How much would you pay for your best friend?