As most of our supporters know by now, SHUG has a flat adoption fee of $650 for imported dogs. Our average cost per dog is around $850, so we subsidize our adoptions through donations and our various fundraisers. The $850 includes the dog's airfare ($200-400), their crate ($35-200), the shelter's fee to cover their vaccinations and spay/neuter and paperwork ($125-300), and transportation to the airport (up to $300).
What we don't factor into our average dog cost or our adoption fees is the price of the human's ticket. Dogs fly from Spain as baggage and need to be attached to a human passenger. SHUG generally relies on dog friendly travelers who are flying from Spain on vacation. This keeps our cost low--but it also means there can sometimes be several dogs waiting for flights. Occasionally we will receive donated airline miles and sometimes flights are so cheap we will spring for a ticket.
And sometimes, as happened today, we'll have an adopter donate a ticket to bring over their dog. Tomorrow Carlos turns six months old--and he will celebrate that milestone in his forever home. What is even more wonderful is that because his mom donated a ticket to bring him over, another dog got to fly as well.
Meet Gala. Five days ago I had never seen her. When we decided on Monday to book a flight for today, I knew we had maybe 24 hours to identify a dog to fly with him. It takes time to get a dog ready to fly and we were cutting it close. One of the first people I contacted was Diane Hughes of Ibizan Hound Rescue, the rescue that Carlos was coming from. Although IHR is a small rescue, they're volunteers go the extra mile--literally!--to get dogs into homes. Diane has sent both her husband and her brother to the U.S. with dogs and Diane's brother David, often drives our dogs to the airport in Madrid--an all day trip that starts in the early hours of the morning.
Diane sent me pictures of three dogs that she could have ready to fly in what amounted to three days. The first two were great dogs . . . but when I saw Gala, my heart pitter-pattered! Now, in the interests of full disclosure, Gala is a Galgo/Podenco cross and the love of my life, Josephina also happens to be a Galgo/Podenco cross. I also happen to be mildly obsessed with wirehaired dogs. So let's just say, I have a type. And Gala is totally my type.
So without knowing a whole lot about Gala, I jumped up and down and said yes. Dark and early Friday morning she drove to the airport with Carlos, David, and our flight volunteer Barbara Galloway of Alibar Dog Knits. Almost immediately I started hearing about how wonderful she was from everyone who came in contact with her. When the flight landed in Chicago, the accolades continued. Not only is Gala a beauty--but she's amazingly sweet and calm. And she gives kisses!!
The plan is for Gala to hitch a ride to Wheeling, WV where SHUG volunteers will be descending for the Greyt Escape event next weekend. I can't wait to meet this sweetheart in person! After that Gala will be coming back to SHUG HQ and be fostered on the east coast. So if you're ready to adopt, check out our application online!