Last week Mystic and I were invited to talk to a group of Girl Scouts about HAWS. I started off giving my usual speech about what HAWS does for Waukesha County and why animals end up there when one of the girls raised her hand with a question.
She asked; "Why is it that pet stores sell their animals for more than animal shelters, but the cages aren't as clean as in a shelter."
I have to say I had a really good feeling when I heard this questions. First of all, HAWS kennel staff do an extremely good job ensuring that the animals are kept in very clean cages -- it's a on-going effort throughout the day. Secondly, it was a recognition by a kid that pet stores generally do charge more for their animals than what an animal shelter charges in adoption fees. And lastly - it was question that in all my 7 years on the job I'd never heard before. I like getting unique questions!
Honestly I can't speak to the cleanliness aspect of the question since I so very rarely frequent pet stores that sell animals. I have seen pet stores with very clean cages, but I've also heard stories from other people about pet stores with caging that was so filthy as to be inhumane.
As far as our adoption fees being lower I do have an explanation. Pet stores are in business to make money. They are a business and it would be bad business to sell something for less than you can get for it. This may also account for the fact that some pet stores can't keep up with the cleanliness of the caging -- they may not be able to afford to have enough staff on hand to constantly clean the cages throughout the day and still be able to make a profit.
HAWS is a non-profit organization with a mission to find good homes for our animals. We don't need to make a profit on our adoptions -- and actually we lose money on every animal we adopt out since we spend way more on veterinary care, medication, food, kennel staff to care for the animals and other supplies than we make on our adoption fees. And this is why we rely so greatly on the public to donate supplies and money so that we can continue to do the work we do.
And thanks to the Girl Scouts -- many of the troops donate both items from our wish list and money to help us with our mission.