Humane Society defends different pet prices

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COLUMBIA - The Central Missouri Humane Society is defending its policy of varying pet adoption fees, after KOMU viewers voiced concerns on what they thought were high prices for available pets.

KOMU 8 reported on March 5 that CMHS received 31 chihuahuas after they escaped a mobile home fire. A viewer posted a photo of a chihuahua puppy from the humane society's website on our Facebook page with a $200 adoption fee.

While it's not certain if the dog was one of the 31, there has been an outcry from viewers about the high price when some dogs can be adopted for as little as $25.

The humane society says variable adoption fees are incredibly common.

"Some animals that come in are going to be considered more adoptable," Michelle Casey, director of professional development and canine behavior, said. "The variable pricing is in place so that those pets that are going to be adopted quickly can provide a financial legacy for those animals that will spend more time in the shelter."

Casey said raising prices on dogs that get a lot of adoption applications, like puppies and more pure bred animals, allows the shelter to lower prices on dogs that might need extra medical treatment after adoption or dogs that are less likely to find homes.

Kelly Sandelin just bought a puppy about eight weeks ago, but decided to buy from a breeder instead of adopting. 

"I just wanted to make sure when I got my first dog, he wasn't going to be something where he was traumatized from something at a young age or anything like that," she said. "I wanted to do my research, and I looked up breeders that had the overall composition of the dog that was pretty consistent with American Kennel Club standards."

She paid $600 for her dog, and is OK with the humane society charging $200 for a dog.

"I don't think $200 is bad for an adopted dog at all," Sandelin said. "With breeders, they set the standard, and I know for dogs that are super popular, like labs or golden retrievers, they can go upward of $1,200. $200 for a dog is not bad at all."

Cole Meyer also decided to buy instead of adopt, but purchased his dog for a low price from a friend. He thinks the prices are a little high for the humane society. 

"$200 for the humane society can be steep depending on the dog," he said. "But it is a charity, so they're probably just trying to do a little bit more with that money and get what they can out of it. "

Both Sandelin and Meyer think lower prices might give customers more incentive to buy.

"If they're really trying to get rid of dogs, maybe they should drop their prices a little bit," Sandelin said. 

Meyer said, "For a charity though, I feel like they'd just be trying to get rid of them and find them a home. If they can get $200 for a dog, more power to them."

Samantha Taylor has four adopted dogs, and said she's paid $100 before. She agreed that most of the higher priced dogs at CMHS were younger dogs.

"I don't think they're overpriced," she said. "Younger dogs, people are going to pay more for, and certain dog breeds, people are less interested in."

As for the chihuahuas CMHS got last week, Casey said most have already been adopted. 

"The eight-week-old puppies, I think it took four days for them to be adopted," Casey said. "I then placed three adult dogs up for adoption, and within an hour they were all adopted. So now we have, I think, four left that are in foster care, and they should be available very soon."

Casey said they still have six five-week-old puppies that will be ready for adoption when they are eight weeks old.