Higher fees could endanger animals

Published 9:05 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2015

By Kay Hurley

Just prior to the City Council meeting on May 6, I became aware of a $10 increase to the adoption fees charged at Suffolk Animal Care Center. This was included in the budget passed at that meeting.

I am not aware of any publicity about this increase. The fees would raise the cost of adoptions for a cat from $75 to $85 and for a dog from $95 to $105.


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I am concerned about this increase for two reasons: the impact on the budget of the Suffolk Humane Society and, especially, the impact on adoption rates.

Pets adopted through the city shelter are spayed or neutered, and the fees include some shots. In 2014, Suffolk Humane adopted 297 cats and five dogs from the city shelter, costing SHS $2,702.50. A $10 increase will greatly affect our budget, since we receive no funds from any agency and are solely dependent on donations.

The animals we adopt are fostered and placed for adoption, either in two area PetSmarts or through the SHS foster program for dogs. SHS provides the FIV/feline leukemia combo test for cats.

I believe it is helpful to compare these fees to what other area cities are charging for adoptions and what those adoptions fees include. I did not include Portsmouth, since they contract out their animal care.

4Isle of Wight Animal Control: dogs/puppies $90, cats/kittens $75. Fees include: spay/neuter, vaccinations, deworming (including rabies shot), heartworm testing for dogs.

4Virginia Beach: dogs $132, cats $65. Fees include: spay/neuter, rabies, heartworm test for dogs, combo test for cats, city license fee. Virginia Beach is the only city that will now have higher rates than Suffolk, and they include more with their fees.

4Norfolk: $75 for both dogs and cats. Fees include: spay/neuter, heartworm test for dogs, combo test for cats, rabies and other primary vaccines, microchip, first flea prevention treatment application, deworming, registration.

4Chesapeake: $95 for dogs, $75 for cats. Fees include: spay/neuter, rabies, microchip, heartworm test or combo test, flea treatment, leash or cat carrier.

I would also like to note that some municipal shelters offer flexibility with adoptions, such as two-for-one specials and other deals that help promote more adoptions. For example, sometimes pets come in who are bonded together, and it is in the pets’ best interest to adopt them together for one price.

It would be wonderful for pets if Suffolk could offer this as well.

My fear is that this increase will negatively affect adoption rates, especially considering the rates offered in other cities that are lower, while, in some cases, offering more for the fee. I sincerely hope I am wrong.

I encourage Council to revisit this increase and, if possible, hold the fees as they currently are. Please don’t make it harder for people to adopt animals in our city or encourage them to go outside our city when they are considering a pet.

I hope Council will rethink this and give the homeless pets in Suffolk a better chance to find homes.

Kay W. Hurley is a board member for the Suffolk Humane Society. Email her at skwh310@aol.com.