How Much is That Doggie in the Shelter?

In 1952, Patti Page asked "(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?" in song that referenced purchasing a cute dog, "the one with the waggly tail" from a pet store. I'm sure you've heard the song; it was quite popular and catchy.

What you may not know though, is that in 2009 Patti Page changed her tune, literally. Together with songwriter Chris Gantry and The HSUS, "Do You See That Doggie in the Shelter" was released, as “an anthem for homeless pets and animal shelters.”

"The original song asks the question: 'How much is that doggie in the window?' Today, the answer is 'too much.' And I don't just mean the price tag on the puppies in pet stores. The real cost is in the suffering of the mother dogs back at the puppy mill. That's where most pet store puppies come from. And that kind of cruelty is too high a price to pay."

- Patti Page

Ms. Page passed away in 2013, but her message and the updated song live on in an adorable video by The SPCA of Singapore. Find it on YouTube if you haven't seen it. You'll definitely crack a smile and maybe shed a tear or two.

But, back to the price of that doggie. Besides the cruel and unnecessary cost of suffering by puppy mill breeder dogs, the puppies themselves are often priced in the hundreds or thousands of dollars, turning big profits for pet stores and puppy mill owners which motivates and enables them to continue this horrible cycle of animal abuse.

Alternatively, the doggies (and kitties) at an animal shelter are available at a much kinder price, often under $100 and sometimes as low as $0. Recently though, I overheard a potential adopter say "that's too much to pay for a shelter dog" when informed about a $75.00 adoption fee.

It's a question worth asking: how much do you think a shelter dog (or cat) is worth? If we could put a price on their value - what they provide you in return, they'd all be priced well above pet store puppies. Surely the years of joy and companionship they bring to your life are worth way more than an adoption fee.

But let's break down the numbers to see the actual dollar value of an adoption fee. Each animal shelter or rescue is different, but at The SPCA Albrecht Center, our adoption fees usually range from $25 to $150. I say 'usually' because we do place higher fees on purebred pets and puppies to discourage opportunistic resellers. $25 adoption fees mostly apply to small pets like guinea pigs, bunnies and ferrets. Kittens, cats, and dogs are mostly $75 with puppies and purebreds in the higher range.

Each pet adopted from us has received a veterinary examination ($40), spay or neuter surgery ($40-$125), age appropriate vaccinations ($40), deworming treatment ($5-$20), and a microchip implant ($25). Dogs receive heartworm testing ($25) and treatment if necessary ($200-$400); cats receive feline leukemia and FIV testing ($25).

Those services alone add up to $135 to $205 for cats and $235 to $675 for dogs. That's not including the cost of food while in the shelter, plus treats and enrichment like training and toys. All of that is included in the adoption fee, which as stated above is usually $75 and no more than $150. Talk about a great deal! Still, our adoption fees are too high for some potential adopters. So we offer adoption specials like "Seniors for Seniors" where an adopter age 60+ can adopt a pet age 6+ for just $6 or BOGO kitten specials (because two kittens are always better than one) and even "Clear the Shelter" events where every pet on the adoption floor has a $0 adoption fee. Yep, all the same services above included, absolutely free.

That great deal for adopters though is a bum deal for shelters and rescues financially. The revenue from adoption fees barely make a dent in the actual cost of operations, especially when you factor in more extensive medical costs that lots of animals need, building maintenance, staffing, insurance and other overhead. That's where our events, fundraisers, thrift shops, public veterinary service and donors save the day. Find out how you can help, and see our "doggies (and kitties) in the window" at, 199 Willow Run Road or in an actual window at Bone-i-Fide Bakery on Laurens Street, downtown.

Sarah Neikam is the Operations Manager for the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare. She is an Aiken native and has been with the Albrecht Center since 2012. Sarah's family includes three adopted cats: Bastian, Luna and Grady, who are all living happy, loved lives thanks to the efforts of the SPCA Albrecht Center.

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The SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare is a

tax-exempt 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization.

EIN: 57-0329782

  199 Willow Run Road  Aiken, SC 29801      Shelter: (803) 648-6863    Vet Care: (803) 648-6864

Copyright 2014     SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare      All rights reserved