Dog Adoption Fees Explained

5 min read




Buchwald says you will need to pay two fees before adopting—an adoption fee and a dog license fee. Both vary depending on the dog in question, the facility from which you’re adopting, and the location of the shelter , but she says the adoption fee is generally between $75 and $200, while the dog license fee is roughly $10.


She adds that the ASPCA and other similar organizations occasionally have special days on which some or all of these fees are waived.


Some animal shelters will provide you with a bag of food to go home with so you can slowly adjust your new dog to the brand you’ve chosen to feed him. Collars, ID tags, and leashes may also be worked into the adoption fees. If you’ve adopted a puppy or a dog who was transferred from one region or shelter to another, the cost for the transportation might be added into your dog adoption fee.


Carolyn Curran, shelter manager for the Animal Rescue League of Boston, says her shelter (and others) provide some of these extras in exchange for a suggested donation.


“For instance, we recommend crating a new dog in your home, but we don’t require that,” she says, “so we can give adopters a crate, if they’d like, for a suggested donation.”


Remember that most of these nonprofit organizations do not receive federal or state funding. The dog adoption fees make caring for the animals in the shelter possible. More often than not, the regular day-to-day operations, the cost for animal shelter agents, veterinary staff, etc., gets paid for by the shelter’s ability to fundraise and acquire donations to keep themselves afloat rather than just through adoption fees for animals. Additionally, most adoption centers will explain what their adoption fees include.


Post-Adoption Costs


Finally, there are the things you need to account for once you have your dog home. While they’re not exactly fees associated with the actual adoption process, they’re still costs you need to account for when you’re bringing home a new dog.


Curran says all new dogs should have a wellness visit with a vet within the first few weeks of the adoption. “The animals who come in here and are adopted are all seen by a vet, but it’s important for new owners to establish a relationship with their own vet early,” she says. “If your puppy has a funny rash three months after adoption, you’ll want to know that you have somewhere to go.”


You may also need to seek out the services of a trainer or behaviorist, if your dog is having a hard time adjusting. Curran says her shelter’s dogs are monitored closely for things like resource guarding, and while they note any problematic behavior with a prospective adopter early in the process, some dogs’ behavior might not change until after they go home with a new owner.


Additional reporting by John Gilpatrick