How You Save Money By Adopting from a Shelter

Posted on 14th Mar, 2018 by Barbara Davidson

If you’ve ever played fetch with a dog or snuggled with a cat, you know the joy a pet can bring into an owner’s life. Taking care of a four-legged friend is not just fun, it’s good for you as well! Studies have shown that the presence of a pet in your home can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, improve mood, encourage socialization, help children develop and more.1 Unfortunately, the positive correlation with pet ownership doesn’t extend to your cash flow. The cost of owning a pet can get very expensive, especially in the early stages. According to the ASPCA, the first year of pet ownership will cost you well over $1,000.2

If you are considering getting a dog or a cat, you may start your search at a pet store, through a breeder or at an animal shelter. Of the three options, animal shelters are by far the most budget-friendly choice, though that does not mean they aren’t also expensive. Aside from processing fees, you may end up paying for the medications, food and toys that the animals need to be healthy and happy in your home. It is possible if you plan ahead to save money when you adopt. Here are some of the best ways to save money when saving a pet’s life.


Adopting Is Cheaper Than Buying From a Breeder

Owner of CharityPaws Jill Caren says, “First it is important to remember that adopting across the board is much cheaper than buying a dog from either a breeder or pet store — so by adopting you are really saving money — and lives.”

It’s worth it to note that even if you find a purebred dog for a comparable price to a shelter, that doesn’t mean you’ll save more in the long run. Studies have shown that genetic disorders are 42% more likely in purebred dogs, while only 4% of mixed dogs are likely to have issues.3 While mixed breed dogs have their fair share of medical challenges, it is far more likely for a purebred dog to have problems later in life, and those problems can come with hefty veterinary bills. Consider the long-term cost of a purebred dog versus a mixed breed dog, and not just the upfront cost.


Look for a Shelter That Spays/Neuters Prior to Adoption

Spaying and neutering your pet can be expensive. Many shelters spay and neuter pets prior to adoption. Jill added this:

“Many (adoption) groups will take care of this and incur the cost so the adopter does not have to.” You may see this cost reflected in the adoption fee, but “even if your adoption fee is $200, remember the rescue or shelter often gets discounted rates with their partners and vets for the medical care the animal gets. If you were to do spay/neuter or medical exams on your own, it is safe to say you would pay probably double that cost in medical fees, so there is a huge value in adopting.”


Look for Shelters That Offer “Starter Kits” for New Pet Owners

“Some groups do offer “starter kits” with adoptions. A bag of food, cat boxes etc. See if you can locate a group that offers this. “It can be worth a few dollars,” Jill tells us. This is a great way to save on the “startup” cost of owning a pet.

When you adopt a pet, you are making a long-term commitment. That commitment will yield years of benefits in your own personal sense of well-being as you and your pet become best friends. Just remember that adopting your new friend doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg (or a paw).





1Gekas, A. (January 23, 2018). 10 health benefits of owning a pet. Retrieved March 5, 2018, from

2Weliver, D. (September 21, 2017). The annual cost of pet ownership: Can you afford a furry friend? Retrieved March 05, 2018, from

3Beuchat, C., PHD. (March 29, 2015). Health of purebred vs mixed breed dogs: the actual data. Retrieved March 05, 2018, from

About Barbara Davidson

Babs is Lead Content Strategist and financial guru. She loves exploring fresh ways to save more and enjoy life on a budget! When she’s not writing, you’ll find her binge-watching musicals, reading in the (sporadic) Chicago sunshine and discovering great new places to eat. Accio, tacos!