The Cullman County Animal Shelter

The Cullman County Animal Shelter, seen in this 2018 Times photo, is raising adoption fees to help offset the cost of veterinarian visits for pets moving into forever homes.

If you’re planning to adopt a dog at the Cullman County Animal Shelter, it’ll soon set you back an even $100 per animal — a slight bump in cost over previous fees. But county officials say it’s a necessary and effective way to assure that your new pet will come with a clean bill of health, while putting the shelter closer to the break-even point on operating costs.

At its most recent regular meeting, the Cullman County Commission agreed to the rate increase, which covers the cost of spaying or neutering each pet, microchipping and each animal’s initial round of vaccinations plus a veterinary exam.

At $10 more than the previous $90 adoption fee for dogs (cat adoptions jump $35 from their previous $65 cost), it’s a price bump that director Dwain Floyd says has been needed since well before he took charge at the shelter this past June. Floyd also said that many incidental expenses with animals that come to the shelter in distress also aren’t reflected in the base adoption fees, meaning that the shelter is used to operating with a budget that doesn’t generate revenue.

“There’s no transportation to and from the vet factored into our base adoption fee, and along the same lines, there’s nothing factored in for extra or unexpected medical charges that come up when you have an animal that needs additional care up front,” he said. “If you take to the vet a dog that has symptoms of heart worms that we don’t see at the shelter, that new information can lose an adoption. Just as we can’t afford that additional cost, a lot of times the person adopting can’t afford it, either.”

Floyd said he reviewed other counties’ adoption rates before recommending the flat $100 fee to the commission, and that the cost of rescuing a pet through the animal shelter continues to be a good value, while setting the pet up for its best chance at a healthy and happy new life.

“Being able to spay and neuter, and to assure that basic level of treatment on every animal while giving the owners as much information as we can going out the door — it’s better for us; it’s better for the people who are adopting; and it’s better for the animals,” he said.

“I’ve been trying to identify issues of need at the shelter since I took over back in the summer, and this has been one of the ones that has been most critical — especially if we want to retain the services of local veterinarians to work with us and give these animals their best chance.”

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