Why Shelters Giving Away Free Dogs Is A Very Bad Idea

A Shelter in Central Missouri is so full that they have started giving the dogs away for free:

The shelter has started a new program giving away dogs for free that have been in the shelter for a long time.

The “Free Fur All” adoption special started out as a Fourth of July marketing event, designed to get people in the door. Certain dogs, cats and small animals that the staff chose were marked “Free Fur All,” meaning that with an approved application, the adoption cost was canceled.

All dogs and cats adopted from the Central Missouri Humane Society come with a spay or neuter, a microchip, the first round of shots, a five-pound bag of food and a free veterinarian visit.’

This story almost made me cry. The thing is – I really understand the Shelter’s situation. What do you do when all the cages are full and no-one is adopting?

Just giving dogs away can be very tempting but I believe that it is profoundly wrong.

What is the goal of a dog shelter? It is to promote responsible ownership, not just to move the dogs out the door. Right?

And what kind of owner would want to adopt a dog just because that dog is free? You guessed it – not a very responsible kind.

So at first glance it feels like progress is being made. But with no value placed on the dog, how many of those same dogs will end up in an animal shelter later?

We need to promote responsible dog ownership and with it the inherent value of each animal! There are many ways a Shelter can utilise to increase adoption rates. Contacting animal writers like this one is a good start. Every blogger wound gladly host ‘Adoption’ pages free of charge.

I know how frustrating it is to have great dogs passed over for adoption and that’s why i say to the shelter staff: Don’t sell yourselves cheap. Work harder at promoting adoption and the results will surprise you.

About Dr Vadim Chelom

Dr Vadim is a house call Veterinarian in Melbourne


  1. Colin

    Dr. Chelom.

    Thanks for your input concerning our Free Fur All adoption event. While you make some valid points concerning the inherent value of adoptable pets, I feel it is important for me to help you understand the process in which we adopt our animals out. We interview each individual to assess their capability to care for and nurture the animal, reserving the right to deny anyone who doesn’t seem able to do so. We follow up with all of our adopters 2 days, 2 months, and 2 years after they adopt. We provide information and materials to help with housetraining, obedience training and other behavioral issues. There is a local training center that is also a collaborating resource partner. Also, throughout our adoption process of animals with waived adoption fees, we inform the adopting families how much it would cost them for the services they receive from private vets and how much money we had already invested in the animal. In some instances, upon seeing these stats, the individuals will end up paying for the animal anyway. Another thing I would like to point out is, when we have event in which we waive adoption fees, we do see an increase in adoptions, but only a small portion of those adopted were animals that had there fees cancelled. It is a small portion of the population that is free, and holding such events is more of a catalyst for us to get people in the building to look at ALL of the animals we have. Just because an animal is free, doesn’t mean that is the one that will speak to a certain adopter’s heart. The idea of events such as this isn’t to promote giving away tens of animals at no cost, but to create interest in what we are doing here at CMHS.

    • Dear Colin,
      Thank you for your input. I am glad to see that every effort is being made to ensure effective adoption of the animals in your care. Keep up the good work.

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