SHUG receives hundreds of applications from potential adopters every year. Unfortunately, sometimes we have to say no. When that happens, people can get angry. Below is my response to an applicant who said she felt "scammed" by our application fee.
We're a 100% volunteer organization and all of the money that comes in goes primarily to vet bills and transport for the dogs. I personally spent over an hour on your app, and at least two other volunteers worked on it as well. Our cost for each dog is over $850. Our adoption fee is only $650 because of the many hours myself and other volunteers put into fundraising. I personally designed all of the t-shirts SHUG sells to raise money. We have to thoroughly screen each application and taking the time to do so takes time away from what we can volunteer to raise money for the dogs. This is why we charge an application fee. I'm sorry you weren't a match for our dogs. As you can see we have an incredible amount of personal time and emotional energy invested in each dog and we try very hard to make the best possible match for each one of them.
Last week myself and 5 other volunteers drove through ice and crazy twisty roads and one lane bridges to bring 9 Greyhound puppies back to SHUG HQ. Yesterday I drove 13 hours (from 9am to 10pm) to bring 4 galgos down from NY and three other volunteers drove 7 and 10 hours. And that's not counting the hours that adopters drove in the last week to meet these dogs. We put a huge amount of our personal time into each one of SHUG's dogs and that means we're going to screen applicants very carefully.
Let's look where the money goes. For dogs from overseas, their vetwork and paperwork is usually paid for by one of our partners. We reimburse them anywhere from 140 to 250 euros per dog for those expenses. Just like in the US costs vary by region. Transport to the airport usually comes out to about another 50 euros per dog. Crates are 150 to 300 euros to buy them in Spain. (Yes, we're always trying to figure out the best/cheapest way to get them back to Spain so that they can be reused. If we can't get them back to Spain we donate them to other rescues in the US.) Airfare for the dogs, when added to a human's ticket is another 300 euros.
So assuming we have a person flying from Spain (nonstop, on an airline that accepts dogs to an airport where we have volunteers) an international dog's actual expenses come out to $725 to $1015 USD depending on the exchange rates. That doesn't include things like the volunteer's gas, tolls, and parking to pick them up at the airport. It also doesn't include any of the flight patron's expenses. For many of our trips, we have to pay at least part of those costs as well.
For our domestic dogs, our adoption fee is $300 because we don't have to pay the 300 euros airfare, but we do still pay for their vetwork, paperwork, and transport expenses in the US. And many of the dogs we rescue in the US are coming to us because they have health issues or other special needs. (So many broken puppies. SO MANY.)
The point of all of this is that fundraising is really important. We know the more reasonable we can make our adoption fee the more dogs we can get into homes. When you ask us to consider you for adoption, we ask for an application fee to reimburse SHUG for the time our volunteers are going to be spending on your application.
Our fee is non-refundable, whether you end up being a match for one of our dogs or not. We try very hard to make that really clear before you pay it. We post it on the app page, on the page where you pay the fee, and the paypal confirmation page. If you're not okay with that, PLEASE DON'T APPLY. We also try really hard to communicate what we're looking for in an adopter. We've blogged about it several times and you'll find a link to our general guidelines right on the application page.
The bottom line is that 100% of your fee is going to the dogs. SHUG has no paid staff. No one is scamming you. If you have concerns or questions you're welcome to ask them. You're also welcome to go to another group. We know we're picky. We're okay with that.