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Adoption Costs

If the Arctic Dog Rescue and Training Center (ADRTC) is NONPROFIT, why are the dogs not free? Why is there a reimbursement of rescue costs?

While ADRTC is nonprofit, and in fact has only a volunteer staff–no staff members are paid, ADRTC does have costs. Every dog is spayed/neutered, and all vaccinations are given that are needed.

All dogs receive an Alaskan Collar with an identification tag from ADRTC that stays with them when they are placed. Many dogs also come with an additional training collar to make it easier to handle them.

Some dogs have additional medical needs from simple worming medication to the treatment of infections or injuries they sustained before rescue. Some dogs require bathing, as they arrive so dirty and often smelly that they cannot be adopted to anyone, or even brought into a foster home.

ADRTC attempts to use all public channels for advertising that we can identify and find useful in the task of locating good homes for dogs being fostered. This has never been sufficient, so ads are placed in local papers to inform more people of our services. These classified ads increase our costs substantially. Advertising costs can be averaged over a large number of dogs to provide an average cost, but no specific cost can truly be attached to an individual dog. Generally, 20% of the fees from adoption are paid to advertisers.

ADRTC retains a reserve fund for unexpected medical costs in the event of a dog becoming severely ill while in fostering, and to cover additional expenses incurred in running ADRTC. Some funds are used for specific items, such as reproducing forms and materials for Adoption Information. Other funds are kept as a reserve for future contingencies brought about by changing responsibilities and demands.

At least once a year, we endeavor to take on a “project dog”. These dogs are highly deserving of rescue, but may have a medical issue that requires a large outlay of funds to resolve. We hope to continue rescuing the special dogs that require us to have faith in people and their willingness to see another fine dog rescued that has exceptional expenses associated with the rescue, fostering, and placement, but a reserve fund is a good business practice that guarantees the dogs get good care while we are also raising funds through other means. We believe the public does care about special needs dogs, and will continue to support our work through generous donations, as well as through adopting other fine dogs we offer all year long.

Even if ADRTC were a well endowed foundation, it is likely that an adoption would still require the adopting party to demonstrate a financial commitment to the dog. Since an adopting party has to pay for future veterinary care–vaccinations, and regular checks–and quite possibly other medical care, we believe that each adopting family should be prepared to provide an assurance that they value the addition to their family by reimbursing ADRTC for the costs already incurred in rescuing the dog. If a family cannot afford to adopt the dog, then it may be best not to do so, as the dog has real costs in food and medical care at a minimum.

Unfortunately, northern breed dogs often do have additional costs in their own housing and maintenance. They do require a secure yard, bedding or crate, bathing and grooming, licensing, and protection from fleas and infection.

In general, a family should expect to pay $300-$700 a year for good dog food, and $300 a year in medical costs for a dog. Since most ADRTC dogs are between the ages of 1 and 3 years, they have an average of 10 additional years of life. The average adoption cost of $200 is a very minor cost when viewed as a percentage of the lifetime costs of the dog–and this analysis is a very positive one, as it assumes the dog never becomes ill and has additional medical costs.

The minimum lifetime costs for a dog should be viewed as an $8000-$10,000 commitment, and anyone signing an adoption contract must understand they are agreeing to make that as a minimum commitment. If there is any uncertainty as to the ability of a family to absorb these costs, then a dog is not necessarily a good addition to this family.

One of the most tragic calls we get all too regularly is the one that begins, “I need to have my dog go to rescue…” It usually continues with, “He/she is 8 years old, and we just can’t keep her/him…”

Such a northern dog is most likely to be killed sooner, rather than later. We have too many fine young dogs needing homes, and just cannot take on dogs that are older, as the public just does not call us or take an interest in older dogs. There are no retirement homes for older dogs, so when adopting a dog, consider the long term welfare of the dog, and be certain that the entire family is prepared to make the commitment to the dog that it expects to make to any other family member.