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I have been in touch with the Border Collie Rescue in my area. Is it typical for Rescues to charge $100? I guess I thought the charge would be comparable to the pound or humane society. This, considering the fact that many of the Border Collies are mixes, seems a bit high. I realize that the rescue people must feed and care for the dogs. Are they funded by anyone? Is there any guarantee on these dogs, like a replacement if major health problems (and death due to such)? Am I expecting too much?

We charge 150 dollars for a rescue dog. This adoption fee is the same for all dogs, irrespective of age, sex, mixed breed or purebred, and training. In that respect, we are very similar to most shelters and humane societies. Most shelters however charge something on the order of 50 to 100 dollars per dog. Why do we charge almost double that?

The first reason is that we often pay for the dogs that we get out of shelters, so many times the dog is already starting off costing us as much as a shelter would charge. We could get them for free from the shelters but we choose not to as we believe that the shelters are providing a good service and there is no need to drain funds from an already overtaxed enterprise. Dogs coming from shelters often come spayed, dewormed, and with a series of shots (though it varies which shots they have received). For this service, we are happy to cover their costs, even though the medical care is often second-rate.

But shelters do nothing more beyond that. It is a rare treat to find one that will screen adopters, "clean up" dogs, or offer some form of training for new owners. We do all of these things, which require additional investments of time and money.

We clean and groom each dog when it comes into our care. Many leave shelters full of mats and covered with fleas or ticks. Coming from Border Collie Rescue, you won't get a dog like that. If you took your adopted dog straight from the shelter to the groomer, you'd be spending another 50 dollars just to make them look presentable. Ours come in "showcase" condition, an important consideration when bringing a new dog home into your clean and flea-free environment.

Many dogs coming from shelters are not rolling out of there "fully loaded" - though actually some *are* fully loaded. Depending on the shelter, we may have to take the dog to the vet for additional shots and/or to be neutered or spayed. This can cost us anywhere between 10 dollars and 150 dollars, depending on what needs to be done.

Some dogs also may have further health problems. We almost exclusively choose to treat them rather than having them put down. No shelter I know will treat "cost ineffective" dogs. They will put them down. Many shelters will euthanize dogs for kennel cough. (This may seem harsh but considering the fact that they are euthanizing many dogs each day, it does make sense to keep only the most healthy individuals). We will treat heartworm positive dogs, injured dogs, and dogs needing some form of surgery. This can cost us anywhere from 200 dollars for heartworm treatment to 2000 dollars for a severely injured dog that was hit by a car. Fortunately, these expenses do not happen very often - but they do occur.

Then comes the upkeep and maintenance of each dog while in our care. All dogs receive good food, heartworm preventative, flea pills or Frontline, a leash, a collar, tags, and now microchipping. We will have to pay for these expenses the entire time we have the dog, which can be anywhere from 2 days to a year. These costs add up rather quickly.

Other costs we must cover - gas, tolls, phone calls (a big expense), Internet connection fees, crates, cleaning supplies, kenneling facilities, mailing costs, ad infinitum.

Each dog is also given free obedience and herding lessons for the life of the dog. We also offer free vacation boarding to all adopters. We hold get togethers, "Fun days", and other similar events. Our dogs leave us with basic obedience training - including Sit, Stay, Down, Come, and Heel commands. I don't know a shelter in the country that offers this. This is more than 95 percent of all dogs in this country know. We also do behavior modification and eliminate unwanted behaviors before the dog reaches its new owner. We'll do free follow up for behavior help as long as they have the dog. We also evaluate each dog's behavior and temperament and match them with appropriate adopters. Shelters do not match dogs to people. You simply go in and pick out what you want (and you have no idea what you're getting).

Not every dog is financially draining. The ones that have less expenses cross-subsidize the more costly ones. In the end, adoption fees are only a minimal way to help with expenses. Any other dog coming with this sort of care would cost you well over 400 dollars. Just ask those folks that breed puppies.

Each dog has similar costs for us - mixed breeds are no cheaper than purebreds. We make up the loss in expenses with contributions, corporate donations, reduced cost services, rescue store sales, and several other manners. The rest comes directly out of our own pockets.

So looking at it from the inside, I'd say that a rescue dog for 150 dollars is the best bargain in town. If you compare the cost of a shelter dog with a dog from Border Collie Rescue, the shelter dog is certainly far cheaper. But it's like comparing apples and oranges.

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Page last updated April 3, 1997. All material Copyright 2004 Border Collie Rescue, Inc. and Dr. Nicholas B. Carter
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