One thing that we strive for at Precious Paws is to "go the distance", for not only the dogs we rescue, but also for the adoptive families that really do become part of our Precious Paws "extended family". From day one veterinary care for our rescues has been a top priority. We have always done our best to ensure that we are fully preparing our dogs for adoption while also being able to give our adopted families as much information about their new family member as possible. Spay and neuter is crucially important - our end goal here is to put ourselves "out of business" so to speak and we can't do that without widespread spay/neuter - but there's so much more that we need to provide than spay/neuter.
Each dog that comes into Precious Paws first sees one of our partners veterinarians for an initial exam. At the first exam we generally do vaccines if needed, a stool sample (always), administer a dose of Advantage Multi (parasite prevention) and take some bloodwork. All of our dogs are heartworm tested before adoption - we've had a few positives come through the rescue and as climate change becomes a factor heartworm will become even more prevalent in our area. Spay/neuter and a microchip ensure that there will be no unwanted litters from our rescues and should a dog go missing, a microchip will help them get back home.
The last thing we want to do as a rescue is adopt a dog out and find out that there was a medical issue that we were unaware of. Of course we can't guarantee the health of any animal we adopt out but, in my mind, we have an obligation as an ethical rescue to ensure that we are doing our best for each dog that we take responsibility for. I have heard of (and personally experienced) dogs being adopted out completely infested with internal parasites for example. Internal parasites are often zoonotic, meaning that they can be passed on to humans. When you think about a puppy being adopted to a family with young children, who maybe aren't as vigilant about washing hands or keeping puppy from licking their faces, you can understand why parasites can be a BIG deal. Precious Paws tests for parasites and deworms each dog appropriately - every dog gets dosed with Advantage Multi even if they have had a negative stool sample. We also speak with each adopter about the potential for internal parasites and why regular testing/prevention as well as handwashing and no face licking is important. This is just one example of care needed of course, there's much more!
On top of all the "routine" care that we require before we place a dog up for adoption - there are many dogs that come to us with additional medical needs. Dentistries are most common, especially in small breeds and they are also quite costly even at a rescue discount. Some dogs come to us with orthopedic issues such as Lexi who was rescued earlier this year and required a femoral head excision and knee surgery to correct her badly luxating patella. Often we take calls from the Emergency Veterinary Clinic in situations where a dog has been surrendered due to illness or injury such as Caramel who was dying from parvovirus and needed round the clock care at emerg as well as a blood transfusion. We will not give up on a dog that we have committed to simply because of medical costs. Once they are with Precious Paws, we will ensure they are taken care of.
As you can imagine, veterinary expenses for all the dogs we rescue are the biggest expenses we face as a rescue. So far in 2019 from January to April, Precious Paws has accumulated just over $20,000 in veterinary bills. To put that in perspective; in all of 2018 we spent just under $40,000 on veterinary care. We have had some expensive dogs so far this year! Adoption fees for each dog rarely cover the cost of the veterinary care we've put into them. Here's just 5 dogs that we've rescued in 2019 who have been adopted already to show you an example of vet expenses vs. adoption fees;
*Bella (Chihuahua who needed routine vetting/spay/dental) - $1,387 in veterinary expenses - adopted for $300
*Cera (Malamute mix puppy who needed routine vetting/spay) - $555.74 in veterinary expenses - adopted for $450
*Jackson (Mixed breed puppy who needed routine vetting/neuter) - $631.23 in veterinary expenses - adopted for $450
*Nala (Shih Tzu mix senior who needed routine vetting/dental) - $888.17 in veterinary expenses - adopted for $350
*Caramel (Golden mix puppy who needed routine vetting/parvo treatment) - $3,674.18 in veterinary expenses - adopted for $450
So you can see why we often post on our social media pages about needing monetary donations, donations for our events, etc.. We are a non-profit organization and we are run entirely 100% by volunteers. Without help from the public, we would not be here for these dogs who need us most. We would love to be able to say that money isn't a factor in our decisions to take dogs into rescue but, as much as we want to think with our heart and help every dog who crosses our path, we also have to be responsible and know our limits. We cannot responsibly accept a dog into rescue without first having the means to ensure that dogs gets the best care we can give them while they are with us.
One step we are taking to assist in covering the veterinary expenses incurred by our rescue dogs is increasing our adoption fees. We have taken a look at other organizations in Ontario as well as what our costs per animal average to make this decision. So far in 2019 with 21 new dogs rescued our average cost per dog has been $973.50 with adoption fees of only $350-$450. So with that in mind we have decided to make the following changes which will be effective May 1st 2019;
- Puppy adoptions (under 1 year of age) will now be $495
- Dog adoptions (1 year and over) willnow be $395
- Senior and bonded pair adoptions will continue to be assessed on a case by case basis
We hope that the public will embrace these changes with the knowledge that, as much as we don't want it to be about money, every dollar does count in rescue. The more we are able to offset veterinary expenses through adoption fees, the greater our impact will be throughout 2019 for dogs in vulnerable situations. And, as always, public generosity is GREATLY appreciated. Consider making a tax-deductible donation through our website or attend one of our upcoming fundraising events - with your help we can make the greatest difference!