The Cost of Operating Animal Shelters - DoggyCrap
The Cost of Operating Animal Shelters

The Cost of Operating Animal Shelters

November 04, 2019

Each year, 2.7 million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized in the United States, simply because too many pets come into shelters and too few people consider adoption when looking for a pet. Most of us would like to adopt every dog that we meet until we snap back to reality and realize that it’s simply impossible.While most people recognize the existence of animal shelters and their amazing work, we tend to neglect the difficulty of actually trying to run one. The main issue that animal shelters are facing is the amount of money that is being brought into the shelter through funding and donations, compared to the cost of maintaining the shelter. Unfortunately, the amount of money coming in is not equivalent the amount it takes to run the shelter. 

Animal Shelter Operating Costs Infographic

Basic Costs We Can All Understand

Animal shelters and rescues are in a constant struggle to obtain funding to continue their operations. These facilities play an important role in every community because they provide a safe place for animals in need to reside. Animal shelters have a diverse population that comes through their doors. Like with anything in life, there is a cost associated with everything no matter how good or bad. Simple expenses like food, water, bowls, toys, and bedding can add up quickly and that’s just the begging. Fortunately, there are loving people that sacrifice a little bit of what they have and venture into their local pet store to donate some of these shelter commodities.  If more people were keen on donating to the cause, more shelters could focus on rehabilitation and avoid euthanizing animals that are too expensive to heal and care for.

Basic Expenses They All Face:

  • Food: The cost to feed a dog for a month in an animal shelter can vary greatly based on the resources of the shelter, but a general ballpark estimate is approximately $40 - $60 dollars per month.
  • Toys: While this may not seem like a big expense, some dogs chew through just about anything. You constantly find yourself investing in toys that get dirty and destroyed. They are essential in keeping control and helping these lonely creatures pass the time while they wait for that miracle called adoption. Some shelters can easily spend $100 + per month on toys alone.
  • Bedding: We all need a comfortable place to sleep. Depending on the size of the dog, simple beds with no thrills start at $30 and can cost as much as $100.
  • Collars/Leashes: Dog apparel helps the dog look their best and find a family sooner.
  • Cleaning Supplies: Shelters can get dirty quite quickly. Some animals come from broken homes that never implemented a potty training regimen, resulting in smelly accidents that need immediate attention. Powdered laundry detergent, disinfectant wipes, and other products keep the shelter a desirable place to enter. The cleaner the shelter, the more people will be willing to visit.


When Medical Bills Sneak Up

One of the primary and unfortunate reasons why people return their pup into the shelter is the cost of veterinary bills that may surface. Like humans, dogs get ill and even have genetic defects that require strict diets and consistent trips to the veterinary office.  Dogs break limbs or get into accidents and may require surgery and drugs to get them back to normal.

For the 2010 year, the Camden County Animal shelter spent $334,904 on veterinary care for all of their animals. Many animals are put down due to aggression towards people, severe aggression toward other animal and incurable illnesses. The yearly expense of euthanasia supplies of one shelter reported approximately $5,730.

Unavoidable Medical Necessities That All Dogs Get

  • Vaccinations: The average cost for dog vaccinations are in the ball park of $50. All dogs get vaccinated to prevent deadly and costly health complications. This is a powerful incentive for future dog owners to adopt from a shelter and save hundreds of dollars in essential veterinary costs.
  • Spay/Neuter: Every cat and dog that enters the shelter will be spayed/neutered for obvious reasons. Neutering of male dogs and cats can prevent certain undesirable sexual behaviors, such as urine marking, humping, male aggression and the urge to roam. This procedure will run the shelter about $100.
  • Microchip: Microchips are implantable computer chips that encode a unique identification number to help reunite you with your lost pet. They are no bigger than a grain of rice and they are placed under your pet’s skin with a needle and syringe, not much differently than a routine vaccine.
  • Initial Exam: Every animal must be inspected to ensure its future owners get the full story and drastically reduce the chances of the dog being put back into a shelter. Like all dog owners, trips to the vet start with the initial exam. This will cost most shelters around $60.
  • Other Medical Expenses: This is where things can get really expensive. Many dogs enter the shelter needing heart worm treatment that can easily cost over $500. Cancers, diseases, and infections can toll this number into the thousands. Sadly, most shelters will not eat the cost and euthanize the animal.


Regular Day To Day Operations

Like any job site, animal shelters have to utilize technology to keep the operation going. Office expenses such as paper, toner, sticky notes, and other supplies can sneak up on just about any business. Bundle reports that the average cost for office supplies in the United States is $19 per month, with the top 10 percent of spenders paying out as much as $39 per month to buy supplies.

Other Expenses Most Don’t Think About

  • Advertising: “Obscurity is the death of all business” – Grant Cardone. Chances are, when you look for anything, Google and advertisements are the only reason you find certain products or services. Adverting and search engine optimization (SEO) can easily cost $10 per day.
  • Office Supplies: Wonder into any shelter and you will be asked to fill out a paper application to adopt just about anything. We all need sticky notes to keep things running smooth.
  • Maintenance: Pluming and general maintenance of the facility can easily add up as the shelter ages and needs more capital to stay in business.


People Need To Get Paid

Management and office salaries range from $32,000 to $62,000. An on-staff veterinarian can command $84,000 a year. Hourly employee wages range from $9.83 to $13.27, according to Animal shelter employees have to do a dirty job for not a lot of money. Most are not in it for the money but for the love of the animals. Animal Welfare Society of Camden County total salaries for the year 2006 were $308,377. The shelter not only had to pay the salaries of their workers but also for the benefits that the employees received. The total cost of employee benefits was $19,882, and payroll taxes at $33,443.

Insurance Required By State Law

It’s required by state law for animal shelters to carry liability insurance and workers compensation insurance in case a visitor and or employee gets injured or bitten by an animal. Most noobie prospects have little to no knowledge of dog behavior and find themselves sticking fingers through the cage, resulting in an ugly bite. Insurance for animal shelters can easily cost around $50,000.

Contribute To The Community

It’s imperative that we go out and help these shelters by rescuing animals, donating time and resources, and spread the word to ensure these animals get another chance at life. Wonder into any dog park and you’ll hear the most amazing rescue stories. It brings us all together and will make you feel like you’ve made a difference. Volunteering saves the shelter a ton of money on employees. This is a golden opportunity to spend time with the kids and show them how compassion makes a difference. It will prime their brain to do great work in the future when it’s their time to hold the torch.

If you’re a business owner, contribute some of your profits and document every step of the way. Not only does this benefit the shelter greatly, it will be a great tax write off and powerful PR for the business. Make a commitment to do something special at least once per month. Animal shelters suffer an incredible shortage of funding. The only way we are able to change that, is by raising awareness and coming together to truly make a difference in the community.

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