Free Cats Bring Out the Beasts … I Don’t Think So

The Peninsula Humane Society is waiving adoption fees for kittens and cats, but that doesn't mean just anyone can take one home.

Not everyone likes the idea of a free pet.  I got an earful from one local resident who called after learning we waived adoption fees for all cats and kittens. 

"I know you're doing this because you have many cats who need homes, but don't you think this will lead to people with bad intentions taking home cats just so they can mistreat them," she said. "And the timing couldn't be worse with Halloween right around the corner."

First, this caller is partially right.  We have many cats and kittens awaiting homes, and yes, we are trying to make it easy for these cats and kittens to go into not just any homes, but good homes. And, she’s not alone. For every one person who calls, writes or posts a comment voicing a concern, there are likely others who feel the same way. 

So, I listened carefully to this caller. 

When it was my turn, I explained that while this might seem like a bad idea for the reasons she mentioned, we're not worried.

Our reasoning goes like this: would someone with bad intentions spend 45-60 minutes with our adoption counselor? Highly doubtful. We haven't simply opened the doors and invited the public to a free-for-all.

A counseling session is mandatory, an integral part of our adoption program. Consider it a conversation, not an interrogation. It's a tool and opportunity -- for our staff and potential adopters -- not a meaningless hurdle. We look for ways to say yes to potential adopters and give them information we know will help them get started on the right paw once they take their new pet home.

We also reason that folks with bad intentions probably wouldn't give a donation at the time of their adoption; yet, most every adopter has, especially upon seeing signage which explains our cost for each cat or kitten’s stay and care is more than $300.

Some might argue that a person who can’t afford an adoption fee can’t afford to care for a pet. But, looking at that differently, paying an adoption fee doesn’t guarantee an ability to pay all expenses going forward.

And, we know that in this economy every little bit helps so waiving a fee might make a difference. In the end, we have gut feelings, trust and some stats to back our work; more than 90% of our adoptions “stick.”  This applies to regular adoptions and promotions. 

In the first week of our promotion, we've seen no drop-off, in terms of quality of adopters. Our staff feel good about the matches they’ve made. Last Saturday, we placed 12 cats and kittens into new homes.  The following day, 16 went to their forever homes. Since the promotion started one week ago, we’ve placed 63 cats and kittens into new homes.  

One of these matches happened last night, an hour before closing.  We met an out-of-county visitor who lost her cat when he accidentally got out of her home and was hit by a car. She was devastated, of course, but emotionally ready to open her home and heart to another companion, though not quite there financially. She saw we were waiving adoption fees and adopted a 4 month-old brown tabby. She was not in a position to leave a donation, but promised to make this kitty indoor-only. 

Our counselor, who handled this adoption, said it best: “It warms my non-profit heart that we can do this.”


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