New pets are never really free

November 8, 2011 

Let’s get in the car and pick up this free puppy or kitten we saw advertised on a sign at the side of the road.

Think about this new pet you just got for free. Is it really free? Have you thought about the care it needs? Pets obtained for free are less likely to be spayed or neutered by their new family, or may have never seen the inside of a veterinary clinic.

First, make sure your free pet is seen by a veterinarian for a health check, proper vaccinations and most importantly, spayed or neutered.

If you add all these costs separately, it’s much simpler and less costly to adopt your pet from Animal Services. Your new pet will have been health-checked, vaccinated, spayed or neutered and microchipped. All of this is included in a small adoption fee that in no way covers the cost of the medical treatment and care.

Sometimes shelters are criticized for charging an adoption fee. If we want to become “no-kill,” why not just give them away? While we are anxious to find homes for all our animals, we want to find good homes. Many people who take free pets do provide wonderful homes, but people also value what they pay for.

On the other side, if you can no longer keep your pet, don’t advertise it for free. Would you want your beloved pet to end up being abused, neglected, sold to research facilities or end up with a hoarder?

If you have tried placing your pet with friends or family and all efforts have failed, make sure you have your health certificate from your veterinarian and charge a fee for your pet. Ask questions of the prospective owner. Think of the feelings of your beloved pet, the one that was never judgmental of you and was always there when you needed him. Your pet deserves that.

And remember, free pets really aren’t free. If you do find your new family pet for free, please make sure it is spayed or neutered. There may be help for you with spaying or neutering by calling our recorded spay/neuter information line at 941-749-3067, the Humane Society of Manatee County’s spay/neuter clinic at 941-747-8808 or the Animal Rescue Coalition’s mobile spay/neuter clinic at 941-957-1955, each offering free or reduced spay and neuter programs.

Spaying and neutering makes for a healthy, happy pet.

Adopt your new family member from Manatee County Animal Services today. Don’t forget about our November adoption special. We have falling prices. Adopt any dog or cat for 30 percent off the regular adoption fee. Dogs are $56 and cats are $42 this month, which includes the required license certificate and tag. A microchip is also included.

Check out Manatee County Animal Services on Facebook. Like us and share us with all your friends. Our web site has a wealth of information.

Kris Weiskopf, chief of Manatee County Animal Services, writes this weekly column for the Bradenton Herald.

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