The Real Cost Behind Adoption Fees

With animals entering Dakin year-round, but most abundantly in the summer months, people interested in adoption are sometimes surprised by the fee. We wholeheartedly share the disappointment and frustration that adoption fees have reached a point where they are not accessible to everyone. Companion animals deserve loving homes and any person who wants the joy of animal companionship in their life should have access to that option.

Why are the fees so high?

Dakin cares for thousands of animals in need every year and the adoption fee is only a portion of the cost. Pets come to us for a variety of reasons, most of which are beyond the control of the caregiver who had to make this very difficult decision.

On average, it costs Dakin $705 to provide the necessary care for each animal brought to us. This number reflects the average cost of care prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Amid cost increases in veterinary and animal care supplies, decreases in availability, increased demand for services, and a growing percentage of animals in need of advanced care, this number is now even higher.

Our investment into each animal is supported by the generosity and support of our donors. Their gifts help bridge the gap between our cost of care and adoption fee, which allows us to continue saying “yes” and keep our doors open for animals who have no place else to turn. Dakin is open admission, which means we do not turn away animals who come to us based on their age, medical, or behavioral condition. Operating this way significantly increases our costs, but allows us to be a resource for families with no other options.

More than 60% of the animals brought to Dakin need extraordinary medical and/or behavioral care before being made available for adoption. They require a significantly longer length of stay, substantial medical treatment, and more time with our veterinary staff, foster homes, and behavior specialists. Additionally, the adoption fee includes age-appropriate vaccinations, spay/neuter surgery, and preventative medical care including heartworm preventative (dogs), flea and worm treatment, and blood tests for heartworm, feline leukemia, and FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus).

We support people choosing to get companion animals through other means outside of shelter adoption. After getting a pet, Dakin is here as a resource for accessible veterinary services including spay/neuter surgery. This year, we are actively working to expand our veterinary services to strengthen our ability to help families care for their pets, regardless of where they got them.

According to data collected by the ASPCA, the average annual cost to care for a healthy pet is between $700 - $1,100 outside of initial costs. For animals with ongoing medical needs, some of which are significant, Dakin has a responsibility to find appropriate homes that can provide the care that meets the animal’s ongoing needs. Shelter animals need hero adopters more than ever, as the number of special needs animals continues to rise. These needs often include ongoing veterinary care, prescription foods, and other monthly care costs.

Dakin is a community-supported nonprofit organization that relies on available grants and the generosity of our supporters to allow us to carry out our work. Dakin does not receive any city, state, or federal funding nor are we funded or operated by any national humane organization. We are working to continuously evolve with the direction of animal welfare in New England and the needs of our community at large. The cost of adoption is an ongoing challenge and we welcome and encourage productive conversations with the community Dakin serves and beyond.

Have questions about adoption fees? We’re here for you. Email us at to reach a staff member who can help.

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