Where to find Affordable pet for Emotional Support (for someone on SSD)?
November 28, 2017 2:51 PM   Subscribe

Where can I adopt a pet dog with a low or no rehoming fee?

Hi there,

It's been suggested to me over the years to get an emotional support dog, and I think it's a great idea. However, cost is the issue. I'm on SSD/SSI at the moment and am recovering from an operation (but mobile!) and the initial fee of adopting is the big hurdle. Truth be told, a couple hundred bucks will always be big hurdle for me. I'm in NYC (moving to PDX in 5 months), and I can't find any shelter where rehoming costs less than a couple hundred dollars. Does anyone know of any leads?

P.S. Please don't discourage my desire or poor-shame me; I have plenty of dog accessories from friends, places give free shots and spaying and neutering in the area, and purchasing dog food isn't a problem. It's hard enough to be vulnerable about being broke. Thanks.
posted by Kombucha3452 to Pets & Animals (15 answers total)
In either NYC or Portland, there are usually a lot of impassioned rehoming pleas on Craigslist - like, "I love my baby but have to move because of an apartment/baby/whatever." Some of those will ask for rehoming fees, but a lot of times the rehoming fees are "I want to make sure you won't be careless with my dog." If you reach out to them and say "I just want to love your dog forever, here are the ways in which I would take care of it, but I don't have funds for a rehoming fee" some may be negotiable or waivable.
posted by corb at 3:04 PM on November 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

Craigslist or local Facebook pages. We have one called Animals Seeking Homes in Northern Nevada. Maybe something similar in your area.
posted by Malleable at 3:08 PM on November 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you adopt an adult dog (older than six months) from NY ACC, the fee is only $75, which includes spaying/neutering, initial vaccinations, a heartworm test, a wellness visit at a participating vet, a microchip with a free year of monitoring, and a collar and leash. That may be too much up front, still, but it does include a lot.

It may be easier to move and then acquire a dog, depending on how you plan to move, but if you need the emotional support (and moving can be stressful!) I suggest checking out ACC. They have locations in all five boroughs.
posted by halation at 3:09 PM on November 28, 2017 [6 favorites]

I'd pay attention to your local shelters' social media pages. During periods when shelters are very full, the ones in my area often have "sales" (free or discounted adoption fees).
posted by radioamy at 3:14 PM on November 28, 2017 [10 favorites]

Ditto radioamy- every now and again, local shelters have specials on pet adoption fees (my local shelter is adopting out cats for $25 this month, for example)- you might research shelters that are easily accessible to you and keep an eye on their social media for such deals.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:33 PM on November 28, 2017

I'd pay attention to your local shelters' social media pages. During periods when shelters are very full, the ones in my area often have "sales" (free or discounted adoption fees).

Yes; I always tease my cats about getting them "at the clearance sale." I love them to bits, but you just have to tease cats sometimes.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:39 PM on November 28, 2017 [18 favorites]

In fact, check TODAY, because a lot of shelters are doing Giving Tuesday promotions or Clear the Shelter promotions right about now.

If you cannot find a dog to adopt quickly, perhaps consider fostering in the meantime? A lot of shelters are desperate for fosters, and will cover medical care while you foster as well.
posted by instamatic at 3:51 PM on November 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

The dog's temperament is the most important factor. The best thing would be to visit a shelter during visiting hours. Look at shelter web sites and choose shelters that have fund-raising and a volunteer program. Ask to talk to an adoption counselor and tell them your needs and your challenges. At a good shelter, they will help know the temperaments of the available dogs and help you choose the best dog for you. They will also keep you in mind when new dogs come in.

A good shelter will make it affordable for kind responsible person to adopt a pet. There are shelters that are strict about income/housing levels. You may have to visit more then one shelter.

You mention that you will be moving. Housing in PDX is pretty tight. It might be best to get a dog that weighs under 30 lbs. Many places have weight limits.

I got my first pet when I was in middle-age. Pets really brighten up your life... if you get one with a good temperament.
posted by valannc at 3:55 PM on November 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

County/city facilities will have lower adoption fees than private rescues; many places have adoption specials attached to holidays, seasonal changes, etc. For example, the Multnomah County shelter in Portland is currently having a special where the adoption fees = day of the month in December ($1 on December 1, $2 on December 2, etc.) That includes vaccinations, spay/neuter surgery, and microchipping. The shelter I used to work at always has 1/2 off adoption rates during back-to-school time.

(FWIW, I strongly recommend moving first, then getting a dog. But in the interim, maybe you can spend some time volunteering as a dog walker at your local shelter, or petsitting for a friend? Not every dog is cut out for the job of being an emotional support pet, and by volunteering and spending time with other dogs, you can get a feel for what kind of pup might suit your lifestyle and needs.)

I've worked in animal rescue in Portland and know a lot about the various rescues and shelters in town. Feel free to MeMail me when you're headed this way!
posted by adastra at 3:56 PM on November 28, 2017 [4 favorites]

Please avoid craigslist for dog adoption. For an ESA dog, you need a good temperament. While it's possible to find a wonderful dog on craigslist, you may also get stuck with a problem dog. People give away dogs due to problems like aggression, separation anxiety, destructiveness, peeing in the house, etc. Maybe you get the dog cheap, but you're taking a big risk.

A good shelter has trained people who can evaluate a dog's temperament and help you pick the right dog for you. They will also advise you if any problems come up after adoption.

Here's a really good book -- Beginning Family Dog Training Paperback by Patricia B. McConnell
posted by valannc at 4:02 PM on November 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes; I always tease my cats about getting them "at the clearance sale." I love them to bits, but you just have to tease cats sometimes.

I'd just like to thank Metafilter for giving me something new to tease my cat about. (He requires a lot of teasing, being a Sale Kitty.)

Another vote for going to a shelter. They'll know exactly the temperament of each pupper, and I'm another one who got my adoption fee waived during a special.

(Incidentally, I don't know if Philly is too far away, but Shelter Favorite Dogs are a $75 fee at Morris Animal Shelter. Regular non-puppies are $150, although I absolutely understand if both of these are outside of what you can afford. Good luck!)
posted by kalimac at 5:37 PM on November 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

You might also want to look at older dogs - some rescues will adopt senior dogs for a significantly lower fee as an incentive, since most people seem to prefer younger dogs.
posted by somanyamys at 6:00 PM on November 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

Senior dogs might not be a good fit for a low income person. The vet bills are high. Go with a shelter animal under age 6 or so.
posted by crazycanuck at 6:35 PM on November 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

Check out PAWS (Pets Are Wonderful Support). They facilitate adoptions, provide care services like dog walking, and cover some vet care depending on your ability to pay. It’s only for San Francisco residents but they will probably be able to connect you to similar organizations in Portland.
posted by ananci at 8:39 PM on November 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Even if you get the dog, if a few hundred is an issue for you, what do you do when s/he gets sick and you're staring at a few hundred to get a diagnosis, much less whatever it is to solve this? Failing that, be aware of any/all support organizations that would be available to you *before* getting a dog. You need to assume your dog is going to have things go wrong and need to be prepared. Of course hopefully nothing does go wrong, but during the moment is not the time to stress/learn/research.

However, you might be a great candidate to foster a dog! A lot of dog rehoming organizations are in need of homes. To my understanding the one that we got our dog from covers all vet care (and as a result is of course involved in the decision making processes around this) for dogs that are being fostered. The only fees would be normal food; of which they might insist on certain brands/qualities (i.e. not the cheap grocery store no-name brand).

The obvious downside of this is 1) being available at times for others to visit the dog, 2) you must be working on training / socializing / improving the dog's manners (or you might not get further dogs for placement) and 3) you'll only have any one dog for likely 1-3 months.
posted by nobeagle at 6:41 AM on November 29, 2017 [4 favorites]

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