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Myths About Fee-Waived Adoptions

LifeLine Animal Project is committed to ending the euthanasia of healthy, treatable animals in the Atlanta area. To do that, our teams find loving homes that Atlanta’s animals deserve. We also work to provide accessible ways to bring pets and people together. One of these ways is offering reduced-fee or fee-waived pet adoptions.

Unfortunately, with the current and ever-fluctuating economic state of Georgia and the United States, people who own pets feel like they can no longer keep them. Those looking to add a furry friend to their family hesitate because of cost. By occasionally reducing adoption fees or waiving them entirely, we have found that people are inspired to adopt a homeless pet and reallocate money that would have been used as a fee to other important factors of pet ownership. There are common fears and misconceptions surrounding fee-waived adoptions, and here is some data to better understand the facts.

Myth: Pets will be returned.

Data and studies from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA), American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and others show that returns and abuse cases do not increase with open adoptions. A survey from a 2011 fee-waived adoption event analyzed by researchers found that 93% of the dogs and 95% of the cats were still with their adopters a year after the event. LifeLine’s return rates have not increased since offering open adoptions in 2014 and remain at about 7%. Because of open adoptions, more animals end up in happy homes instead of living in shelters.²

Myth: Pets will end up in abusive homes.

Cases of animal abuse are not compiled by state or federal agencies, making it difficult to calculate just how common they are. We understand that placing animals with adoptive families is complex and our ultimate goal is to save lives. During these events, each fee-waived adopter is screened by an adoptions counselor and required to meet adoption criteria. 

We want to simultaneously prevent animal cruelty cases and find homes for the thousands of animals in our care. Removing an adoption fee does not mean the animal is of lesser value, it is meant to help alert the community to the urgent need for adoptive homes for pets living in shelters. While stories of animal abuse are tragic and make headlines in the media, it is important to remember that the vast majority of animals adopted during fee-waived events remain in their homes as loved and valued members of the family.

Myth: Dogs will be used for dog-fighting operations.

With our conversation-based adoption process in place, along with a short application, people who want animals for less-than-honorable purposes are not likely to try and adopt through a government agency. These individuals do not want their actions to be documented by virtual or paper trails. From what information we have available, the overwhelming majority of pets adopted from shelters (whether for free or at a reduced fee) have found stable, secure homes.¹ 

Myth: Pets will not be provided quality care if their owner didn’t pay a fee to adopt them.

LifeLine conducts a judgment-free adoption process, where our teams recognize that not every home looks the same but the love and care from the adopter remains strong. With 66% of U.S. households (86.9 million homes) owning a pet, pet owners who return to the shelter to add another dog or cat to their family already understand the cost of owning a pet. LifeLine also provides important information to our adopters by thoroughly going over basic pet care and providing new adopter support for training. Fee-waived adoptions paired with our community resources can be another supplement to keeping pets in homes.³ 

More information and research on fee-waived adoption events and why they are a tool to help find homes, not something to fear, please visit:

¹Best Friends Network

²Maddie’s Fund

³Pets for Life

Pet Ownership Statistics

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