Why does Salt Lake County Animal Services charge such high prices for adoption?

The adoption fees for animals adopted from Animal Services include the cost of sterilization as determined by the Utah Veterinarian Association and a fee for service. Animal Services requires sterilization, spaying or neutering of all animals that are adopted from our shelter. We contract with local veterinarians to provide reduced-cost sterilization. The Veterinary Association sets the price for surgery. It can vary from $40 to $90, depending on whether the animal is male or female and how much the animal weighs.The service fee is a must, in order to cover the cost of each adoption. This fee includes such items as manpower and materials. These fees are paid up front when purchasing an animal from Animal Services. However, the sterilization is not all the adopter receives. The adopter is given a collar and a leash or a cat carrier and a free health exam and is provided with resources to help with problems, and expertise in matching the proper animal companion with the owner.

It is difficult for people to understand why not everyone who walks in the door of an animal shelter is allowed to adopt an animal. "How can you turn anyone down," they ask, "knowing the alternative for the animal is to be destroyed.

There are some things that are worse than death. Experience has shown that without certain regulations for adoption, many animals are taken by people who have no idea of the responsibilities involved in being a pet owner. "If they are unwilling or unable to invest the time and the money needed to make a success of the adoption, the pet ends up neglected, abandoned or returned to the shelter," says Phyllis Wright, vice president for companion animals, Humane Society of the United States.

Most of the animals do not reach the shelter, instead dying in the street from starvations, disease or traffic accidents, which is a much more painful death than humane euthanasia. Animals impounded at the shelter are there because they've been rejected or abandoned. It's no favor to the animal to make it go through this experience twice.

An animal shelter exists for the good of the animal, to protect it from harm, neglect or cruelty. Because we are here to help, shelters have a moral obligation not to let an animal out the front door unless it is going to a responsible home where it will be part of a family and will be taken care of properly. This includes a bath, grooming, licensing, inoculations, being kept on a leash or confined properly (this includes cats).

The potential adopter, in fact anyone who cares about the welfare of animals, must recognize that these requirements are necessary to protect the animals, even though they may result in fewer adoptions.

- If you have a question about health, behavior problems, laws, etc., regarding wild or domestic animals, please write Leslie Kelson-Probert, Salt Lake County Animal Services, 511 W. 3900 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84123 or call her at 264-2247.