The other day someone mentioned that one of our new dogs was everything she wanted in a dog and then questioned why the dogs were all so expensive. I’ve addressed this several times and will do it many times in the future because it’s a valid question.

I’d heard about shelter and rescue dogs. I thought every single place that took care of dogs until they went to good homes was part of a Humane Society. Like many people, I thought all strays or rescues went to the Humane Society. And I thought they were free. Seriously, I did.

My doctor suggested I get a dog after my car wreck for the PTSD, anxiety, and traumatic brain injury. I didn’t really want a dog because I could not see how it would help. Two years and countless therapies and medications later I was desperate. I trusted my doctor so when we moved here and settled in I decided to at least look into getting a dog. If nothing else my husband loved dogs.

Last October, after zero research and only choosing NEW PAWSibilities because they were open on a Saturday morning and no one else was, we found the dog that truly saved my life.

When I heard the number $300.00 I mentally gulped. Every dog we had gotten while growing up we had gotten for free either as a puppy or a stray. I know we fixed my sons’ dog but it was over twenty years ago and I can’t remember what it cost. Why on earth would I pay for a dog?

Now that I’ve been involved with this wonderful rescue for over a year I have a different take on the cost of adopting a dog. I didn’t buy a dog, I paid an adoption fee. Adopting a dog is actually more affordable and much easier than picking up a stray or buying one through a breeder. Because I was so uneducated both times we got a dog, I thought this might be helpful for you to share with others considering adopting a dog through NEW PAWSibilities.

The $300.00 non-refundable adoption fee goes to transporting and caring for the dogs, spay/neuter, vaccinations, microchipping, general vet services, operating expenses such as rent, utilities, food, and keeping dogs for as long as possible until they have a home. Many dogs find their new home within days of being featured on the website. The process is longer for others, but no healthy dog is ever euthanized and all dogs in our care are loved, fed, exercised, given excellent medical care during their time with us.

The numbers below are an average based on Northeast Wisconsin veterinarian costs. At a minimum, not including several vaccinations that some vets might suggest, this list includes the ala carte cost if you were to pay out of pocket. I estimated on the low side. For example, a friend of mine had her dog spayed and she paid $500.00 because the dog was considered a large dog.

Wellness exam $50.00

Neuter/Spay – $250.00

Distemper – $30.00

Rabies Vaccination $30.00

Heartworm Test $40.00

Flea/tick treatment $40.00 (2 months before adoption)

Deworming $75.00

Microchip $30.00

Pet ownership done responsibly is not a financial bargain but it is no different than being a responsible parent for your human children. I’m learning there are reasons why some people call dogs “fur-babies.”

If someone gets a free puppy from a neighbor and they decide to give them the initial care needed for a long and healthy life it’s significantly costlier than our adoption fees. And that might be the way to go if you are looking to adopt a purebred or you have another reason to not rescue a dog. Rescue is not for everyone and we hope that everyone will find their perfect dog no matter how it happens. But being a responsible pet owner, regardless of how you got your dog, is a must in our book.

I am grateful I had no idea about the cost of adopting my lifesaver. Had I known I would have decided the money would have been better spent on a new furnace or winter clothes. Yeah, I’m from Hawaii and I still don’t own a pair of slacks or jeans. But I have my dog who is truly priceless. I’d pay double that now that I understand the value.

One last cost I forgot to mention; A lifetime of LOVE: Priceless.