How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Dog?

Dog adoption has become increasingly popular nowadays. Many believe that it is a better option than buying a brand-new dog because of the countless homeless dogs that need a family to welcome them into their home.

The best part about adoption is having the chance to give dogs a 2nd chance at life. Animal shelters have no choice but to euthanize 3-4 million cats and dogs every year due to overpopulation.

In addition, adoption will cost you so much less than buying from a pet store. So, not only do you get to save a life, you get to save money too.

adopt a dog vector

Dog Adoption Cost

The cost of adopting a dog depends on whether you adopt from a shelter or a rescue group. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages, so better learn the relevant facts first before making a decision.

  • Animal Shelters

Animal shelters or dog pounds are government-funded establishments where stray animals are kept. While numerous shelters adhere to a “no-kill” policy, some still resort to euthanasia to address overpopulation and contagious diseases.

There is barely a screening process when adopting from a shelter, thus, doing so is relatively easy. The cost is also generally cheaper. Some dogs would have already been dewormed and spayed or neutered, so that’s less cost for you.

The drawback of adopting from a shelter is that you will get little to no information about the dog’s traits and history. Dogs from shelters also receive barely any vaccinations and veterinary care, so they are more likely to be sickly.

The cost of dog adoption varies from shelter to shelter. For instance, Kenai Animal Shelter in Alaska charges a small adoption fee of $20.40. Adopting at Seattle Animal Shelter in Washington, on the other hand, ranges from $100 to 375, inclusive of spay/neuter surgery and vaccinations, among others.

Rescue Groups

Meanwhile, rescue groups are non-profit organizations fully committed to caring for abandoned and abused animals. Euthanasia is never an option for them; that is why they usually require monetary donations from benefactors.

Adopting a dog from a rescue group might be costlier than adopting from a shelter, but its extensive screening process allows you to find the perfect match of a pet for you.

There are numerous adoption agencies available for you to choose from. To give you an idea, here are some of their rates:

  • Peppermint Pig Animal Rescue in Ohio: $95-150
  • TLC Animal Shelter in Illinois: $175
  • Tails of the City Animal Rescue in California: $300
  • Animal League in Port Washington, New York: $100-350
  • Animal Haven in New York, New York: $295-450
choosing a dog in an animal shelter

Additional Costs

Under the assumption that the dog has not received the essential pet care treatment yet, here are the things you need to provide for your new pet:

  • Vaccines – There are multiple vaccines your dog may benefit from, but the core vaccines include canine antivirus, canine hepatitis, and rabies. You would need to spend $190-$200 in the first year, and around $75 as booster vaccinations in every other year.
  • Sterilization – Some people choose to have their pooch sterilized for its health benefits. Shelters generally offer spay/neuter services for your adoptive pets. TLC Animal Shelter charges $25, while Animal League’s rates range from $120 to $200.
  • Microchip – If you would like to be able to track your dog, you could pay for microchipping services and give you peace of mind in the unfortunate event that your fur baby goes missing. The City of Kenai Animal Control offers this for $5.10, while Animal Foundation does for $25.
  • Licenses – Certain states in the USA require dogs to obtain licenses. It comes in useful if and when you need to find your missing dog. In Alaska, a pet license costs from $10.20 to 30.60, while in Pennsylvania, a lifetime license costs $31.50 to 51.50.
  • Dog Training – Many dog-owners seek professional dog help to make their pets well-behaved and potty-trained. I Said Sit offers private lessons that cost from $155 to $255 per hour, while group sessions cost $195 per class. House of Dog Training offers a wide variety of classes that range from $20 – a one-time, one skill class, to $600 – an adult certification training package. On average, it can be anywhere from $70 to a few hundreds
  • Food – Your dog is going to through major changes so try not to overwhelm it so much. Feed it its usual food for the first few days or so – make sure to ask the shelter for this information. Eventually, you may choose to feed your pet dog food or homecooked food. Just remember to never feed it chicken bones and chocolate. Dog food prices range from around $4 for 12.5-oz can to around $50 for 22-lb pack.

Adoption Steps

While shelters and rescue organizations have their own specific processes in dog adoption, they are all relatively similar. Don’t get fed up with the tedious process because these necessary measures are put in place to identify your readiness level to adopt a dog. It will also be able to identify what particular breed of dog suits you best.

  1. Choosing a Dog

Start by visiting adoption websites such as and checking the available dogs’ bios. They usually provide information such as breed, gender, age, size, personality, and background.

Once you find the dog of your choosing, send the shelter a message and wait for it to reach out to you.

Keep in mind, however, that this information isn’t enough to discern whether the dog is a perfect fit for you or not. That is why you still need to visit the shelter to give you a better feel of your rapport with the dog.

It is recommended that you bring everyone in your household when you visit. This way, you’d be able to tell if they are able to interact with your prospective pet well.

  1. Interview and Background Check

You will then be asked to fill out the necessary paperwork and will be asked a series of interview questions. Some questions may include personal information such as your lifestyle and living situation. Your answers will help the agency determine whether you are suitable to take care of a dog.

A background check will then be conducted, basically to make sure you are who you say are. Be ready to provide character references at this point.

  1. Home Visit and Trial Period

Some shelters may pay a home visit to check if your house is spacious and pet-friendly enough for a dog. Prepare your house by having multiple beds for your new pet – ideally one in every room. Online shops offer dog beds starting from around $5 but can definitely cost more depending on materials, design, and quality.

The MidWest Homes for Pets Deluxe Pet Bed costs around $7 to $36 depending on size (18-inch to 48-inch)

Make sure that there are no hazardous items such as medicines and poisonous plants within its reach as well.

Certain shelters will allow you to take home your chosen pet for one to two weeks to test whether you and your dog are really a good fit. Once you have determined that you have found yourself a match, you pay for the corresponding fee and then you may finally take the newest member of your family home.

  1. Ready, Set…

Go – BUT only if you are physically, financially, mentally, and emotionally ready. Amidst all these steps, the biggest question to ask yourself is: can I really do this?

Keep in mind that adopting a dog is a long-term commitment: do not just do it because you think dogs are cute or because it’s the “in thing” to do right now. It is not going to be cute when you realize after a few months that you are not adept at taking care of a dog after all and the dog is left uncared for once again.

Dogs have specific needs. They require genuine care and attention, so only adopt one if you are absolutely sure that you are ready, willing, and able.

Here is a simple checklist you could use to learn whether you are ready or not:

  • Are you responsible enough? – As we have mentioned, taking care of a dog is a long-term commitment, so you cannot just adopt on a whim. If you have never owned a dog before, you must do in-depth research on the responsibilities you need to take on once you do. You must also take into heart specific things about your dog such as its personality, its preferred food, and its special needs or illnesses if any.
  • Do you have the time for it? – If you are working a 9-5 job and there is no one left at home to care for the dog while you are out, then dog adoption is not for you. Because these animals have been previously abandoned or mistreated, adoptive dogs tend to have more needs than brand-new ones. These furry friends need constant attention, so you really need to make time for them.
  • Is the rest of your family ready for it? – Everyone else in your household will be affected by this new addition to the family, so you have to consider your family members’ readiness level as well. Is anybody allergic to canines or is everybody on board with the idea? These are only some of the things you need to ask the whole family before deciding to go for it.

If you deem yourself ready to be a dog parent, then you deserve a pat on the back – what you are about to do is an incredible act. You are not only taking on a huge responsibility, but you are actually saving a dog from misery and possible death.

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