Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Cost of a Rescue

Rescued April 14, 2011

It all started with a conversation about people who, for whatever reason they settle on, can no longer keep their pet and choose to bring it to a shelter.

Regardless of reasoning behind owner surrenders or street rescues, apparently some folks think rescues are out to rob people of their business and/or make money for themselves. The individual who made this declaration claims they have witnessed shelters trespass on property owned by private kennels to confiscate purebreds merely for resale through the shelter via PetFinder. Apparently, it is believed shelters “confiscate” purebreds breeds to resell for breeder prices just to make a buck. In the conversation, the kennel was referred to as robbed.

It was also stated and believed pets are confiscated if the animal is not treated like a child instead of a pet. The notion is that animals are taken often times unnecessarily because of this theory, which supposedly seen first hand on Animal Planet®.

I am far from the person who sings the praises of any of the animal cop shows on Animal Planet®. I know most of the areas portrayed are notorious for their high kill (euthanasia) rates and less than stellar performances in animal care. I am also not the one to ask about how I feel about the HSUS (Humane Society of the United States).

Confiscating animals because they are not treated like a child? Hmmm… I have seen some of these shows. The ones I have seen have confiscated animals who have not been fed, given fresh water, given any water, long haired breeds not groomed left matted, etc. I have seen first hand… yes, first hand, not on TV, how people think they can just put a dog in the backyard and not care for it. Treated like a child? How about treat it like a living creature, period! An animal, despite whether you live in an urban, suburban or rural area should never be allowed to run loose; yet, people think just because they can’t keep the dog in it’ll be fine. No one should have to live with hitting a loose dog on the road.

Trespassing on private property of “professional” kennels. Professional kennels. What are we calling “professional”? Backyard breeders? Puppy mills? If you are breeding dogs for profit, you are not a professional breeder. A professional breeder breeds for love of the breed. A professional breeder breeds for the betterment of the breed. They do not breed the most popular breeds to make a fast buck. They love the breed. They know the breed. They breed genetic problems out of the breed if possible. They breed the breed for what the breed was meant to be for. A hunting dog to hunt. A herding dog to herd. A lap dog to sit on your lap. Backyard breeders have dogs that are not consistent with breed specifics. Puppy mills have sickly dogs who are kept in cages that are too small. Is this a “professional” breeder? Most puppy mills breed more than one breed of the “popular breeds”; so, they can make a quick buck before the trend dies down. This IS NOT a “professional” breeder.

Rescues charging purebred prices! This line really got me. Maybe because I have purchased rescue dogs through a rescue. Maybe because I try to help a local rescue when I can. I decided, since I just rescued a dog and two cats on my own out of my own pocket, I would try to help everyone understand the price of a rescue.

I cannot speak for all rescues, shelters, etc. who list on PetFinder just the one I deal with from time to time, as well as for myself & what I would have to charge if I adopted those I rescued out, as well as two others in the area in which I am aware of somewhat how they operate.

The rescue I deal directly with, the RRSPCA (Red River SPCA), charges a minimum tax deductible donation. They do not like to call it a fee because the entire amount is tax deductible, as it is technically a donation. The RRSPCA receives no additional funding from any local government or the national SPCA. They are completely a volunteer organization with foster homes only. The lady who runs it has some acreage that is used for fostering large breed dogs, as well as other animals from time to time. She is also the animal cruelty investigator for the county.

The fees the RRSPCA charges as tax deductible donations on PetFinder cover expenses incurred in caring for the animal up for adoption. These expenses include but are not limited to spay/neuter, vaccines, heartworm tests & medication, food, vet bills if the animal is injured or ill, medications if needed, grooming if needed, etc.

These expenses vary greatly depending on where a rescue/shelter is located – urban, suburban, rural. Some vets offer services at reduced rates for rescues and shelters; some do not. If a shelter is lucky enough to be located within driving distance of one of these vet clinic, they can get some services at a lower cost and pass that savings on.

Some people think all the food is donated. It is not. What is not received in donations comes out of pocket. Charitable organizations have to basically line up at stores to get the “dented” cans or “torn” bags of cat/dog food stores give to charities. It’s first come, first serve.

Like many of you, I have adopted “rescued” animals, but I also have “rescued” animals. My mom started it when I was a young child. While Dad was serving in the USAF at Beale AFB, CA. Mom would go to the base pound, as they were called back then. She would get the animals on their last day, nurse them back to health, get their “shots” and find homes for them. Dad would always say, “the least you could do is charge for them to recoup what we put out.” Mom responded with, “who’s gonna pay for a mutt?” Dad was ahead of his time, as this was the 1970s!

I have been involved in the rescue of all the animals I have except three. Two dogs adopted from the Red River SPCA and one pedigreed Chihuahua who was too big for his breed. His breeders gave him to us because they couldn’t sell him. One cat was hit by a car when she was 6 mos old and rushed to a vet. She is now 11. One cat was thrown out a truck window, bounced off the door and landed on the ground as a 3 mo old kitten. I stopped traffic to pick her up. She survived with no injuries. Five 2 wk old kittens were brought to me by my aunt when my cousin accidentally ran over their mother. At least three cats were rescued in the backyard by the dogs. Three dogs were strays one of which came with heartworm. One dog was abandoned as a young puppy. In the past 2 years, I have rescued 2 adult cats, 3 kittens, 1 adult dog & adopted 1 puppy from the RRSPCA. All in all, I can break down the cost of a rescue.

So, what is the cost of a rescue, you ask?

Here’s the breakdown of what the most recent adult dog needed:
Exam: $38
Heartworm test: $30
Annual vaccine: $18.50
Rabies vaccine: $16
Heartworm preventative: $20.93
Flea Meds: $6
Tapeworm: $17.12
Neuter: $50 (with low cost neuter voucher)
Total: $196.55

$196.55 just for vetting. No food.
If I were to have adopted him out, what could I honestly expect to be able to ask for on PetFinder? To recoup expenses, obviously, I could ask $200 just to round off for food. Do I think I could get $200 for a dog that appears to be a Black Mouth Cur, realizing the word cur actually means mutt, even though it is sort of a breed? No, I doubt it.

In comparison, the pup I just adopted from the RRSPCA was vet examined, spayed, had all puppy vaccines which was 2 or 3 visits, wormed, etc. I paid $100. They did have her slightly higher to weed out certain types of people because of her breed/species, as she is a Timberwolf hybrid.

The cat that was hit by a car back in 2001 cost over $200 just to save her life; she was spayed at the same time.

The most recent cat, Devil, was rescued in January 2011; he is a 9-11 yr old FIV+ male with a healed over eye injury, which required surgery. His exam, surgery to correct his eye injury, testing for FIV & FeLV, annual & rabies vaccines, neutering, flea & tapeworm meds, etc. totaled about $400. In most rescue/shelter situations, Devil would have been euthanized because he tested FIV positive even though after being neutered and as long as he doesn’t fight he can live with non-FIV+ cats.

Personally, I do not know how some of these rescues/shelters survive by putting out more than they get in. So, when you see a rescue or shelter on PetFinder “selling” a “purebred” for “breeder” prices, don’t be so quick to judge. They are trying to recoup some of what they put into the rescue of the animal.