The prices that rescues and shelters charge for dog adoptions is a pretty sensitive and heated topic. I'm hoping to shed some light on the subject.
What is puppy price jacking?
That is a term used when shelters and rescues charging a higher adoption fee for puppies and/or purebred dogs.
Some rescues and shelters charge a flat fee for all of their animals, regardless of age or breed. Some breed specific rescues charge fees depending on the age of the dog. And some all breed rescues charge a higher adoption fee for puppies/young dogs/purebred dogs. Sometimes they call these "VIP" dogs.
What does all of this mean?
Well, it depends. Is this a good thing? A bad thing? It depends entirely upon the rescue/shelter.
Reputable rescues take in a variety of dogs. If they are breed specific they may only take one breed, or sometimes dogs mixed with that breed. But either way, a reputable rescue takes in senior dogs. They take in shelter releases. They take in sick dogs that need medical treatment.
In most cases, senior dogs and medical cases cost the rescue far more in vet bills than they can ever recoup in an adoption fee. That is just part of running a rescue. The difference between the medical bill and the adoption fee can be made up in fundraisers or donations. Some rescues do a lot of fundraising and collect a lot of donations, others don't. But another way to make up that difference is by charging a higher adoption fee for a young, healthy dog, one that didn't need much medical treatment.
Many times people want puppies or young dogs. Many people are looking for a specific breed. Though the fees for these dogs are higher than other dogs, it is usually far less than "buying" a puppy or young purebred dog. This makes an advantage to both parties. The adopter is rescuing a dog in need rather than buying a dog, and the rescue is able to get extra funds to help with the next senior or medical case they get in.
What does that mean to you, as an adopter?
It is obviously your choice whether to support rescues/shelters that do this. But there are red flags to look for in a rescue that does this that you want to be aware of.
Some questions to ask:
Does the rescue take in ONLY young, purebred dogs? Or do they also help shelter releases, seniors or dogs with medical needs? If their adoptable dogs consist only of young purebred puppies and not any older adult dogs, they could possibly be a puppy mill broker posing as a rescue. This does happen!
Does the rescue make sure every single dog/puppy is spayed or neutered, up to date on shots before they are adopted? If they are adopting out dogs that are not spayed or neutered, this is a big red flag! Some rescues and shelters do a voucher type program for getting the animal fixed, but in those cases you HAVE to provide proof that it is done with in a specific amount of time or the rescue can take the animal back. If the rescue doesn't spay or neuter and doesn't require it, that is a big red flag!
Does the rescue follow an adoption protocol? Do they have an application process? Do they have a contract? Are they concerned about a good placement of the dog? Or do they just let anyone adopt any dog as long as they will pay the fee?
If the rescue is reputable and is open about their adoption fees and processes and you are okay with paying a higher fee to get a puppy or breed of dog that you want, then go for it! But do your homework and make sure the rescue is reputable. If a rescue has an adoption fee listed but then when you inquire about the dog they tell you it's actually more, don't hesitate to ask why!
There are lots of different rescues and shelters that are run a variety of different ways. It's up to you as an adopter to be informed so you can make the decision that is right for you!