Did you know adopting a pet from a shelter instead of buying from a breeder or pet store can save you hundreds of dollars? Read on and discover why.

When I decided to adopt my first dog, I spent a month searching for her — browsing through pictures from local animal shelters, even some that were hours away. Eventually, I found Vira. The morning after I met her, my husband and I left town for a backpacking trip, and I filled out the adoption paperwork on my phone as we weaved in and out of service.

It may have taken weeks for me to find the right dog, but I knew early on I wanted a rescue. Adopting a pet from your local shelter versus buying from a breeder or pet store can be beneficial in a number of ways. You’ll save an abandoned, abused, or surrendered animal. You’ll support nonprofit organizations caring for neglected pets. But, did you know you’ll also save money?

Learn how to help give your pet the best health care possible with Lemonade pet insurance

If you’ve considered adding a furry companion to your family, here are five financial benefits of adopting versus buying your pet.

Adoption fees are more affordable

The Financial Benefits To Adopting A Pet - Adoption fees are more affordable

The initial price tag of a pet can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on factors like location, age, breed, and more. However, the cost to adopt is generally much cheaper.

The Animal Humane Society lists standard adoption fees for dogs and puppies as $118‒$667, while cats and kittens cost $34‒$276. On the other hand, a purebred dog from a breeder can cost as much as $3,000.

Furthermore, many shelters will reduce or waive adoption fees for older animals or during special events. Follow your local shelters and rescues on Facebook to stay updated on these events.

Shelters cover some costs

In addition to a cheaper adoption fee, shelters often foot the bill for vaccines, spay/neuter operations, microchipping, and more. Some even include added perks, such as a bag of food or a toy.  

When I adopted Vira, she was four years old and hadn’t been spayed. The rescue that took her in did not only pay for her surgery, but they also paid for her rabies vaccine, heartworm medication, flea prevention, as well as a microchip. They even sent me home with a bag of treats, a collar, a leash, and toys and a dog bed from her previous home.

But what I know now is that Pumpkin makes health care for your pet more affordable; Pumpkin’s optional Preventive Essentials covers preventative care costs which are costs that I know from experience can quickly (and do!) add up.

Licensing fees may be cheaper

In some parts of the country, licensing fees for dogs and cats cost less when they are spayed or neutered. In fact, many states — California, Illinois, Florida, and more — charge more than double in licensing fees each year for an “unaltered” animal, and some even mandate sterilization.

Since pets from a rescue or shelter are often spayed or neutered before they can be adopted, you could save a significant amount of money each year on licensing fees for your pet.

Adopted pets often require less training

The Financial Benefits To Adopting A Pet - Adopted pets often require less training

Many pets at shelters and rescues are lost or surrendered. Consequently, they’re often already housetrained and typically cost less to train than an animal from a breeder.

Training costs vary based on your location and the type of training your pet needs. At PetSmart, a one-hour private lesson costs $89, while their six-week group classes can cost as little as $119. However, if you bring home a puppy from your neighborhood pet store, you may need a more extensive course. Obedience school can cost $200-$600 each week, and, if you don’t have time to train your pet, board and train options can cost as much as $1,250 per week.

Although Vira was already housetrained and understood basic commands like “sit” and “down,” I took her to a four-week course at our local shelter to boost her confidence and help us bond. The course cost $75, and I later spent $50 on a private, one-hour session with a trainer and her three dogs to help Vira overcome some social anxiety.

Adopting may lower vet bills

Even if you are able to find an affordable puppy or kitten, it may be a sign that the pet is from a breeding mill, which could lead to added expenses at the vet. 

Breeding mills are established for the sole purpose of producing more pets for more profit, and an estimated 90% of kittens and puppies at pet stores are supplied by these facilities. These animals are bred and raised in crowded, unsanitary conditions, which often lead to health problems such as severe infections, dental issues, and even genetic deformities. As a result, the costs you may avoid with the initial purchase price of your puppy or kitten could come back to bite you at the vet.

If you want to save even more on vet costs, don’t forget to look into pet insurance. It can be a real lifesaver. I wish I had known about it when I first adopted my dog, but am happy to know about it now at least.

Three options for pet insurance

LemonadeThe Financial Benefits Of Adopting A Pet - Lemonade is a really cool company when it comes to pet insurance. You can sign up for insurance in a matter of seconds, and pay as little as $10/month, with annual coverage limits of up to $100,000, and deductibles as low as $100. The base Lemonade accident and illness plan can cover labwork, x-rays, emergency surgeries, medication, and more. Depending on the plan you choose, you may be able to add coverage for preventative and wellness care like routine exams and vaccines. Plus, you’ll get a 10% bundle discount if you also insure your home or car through Lemonade. 

The Financial Benefits Of Adopting A Pet - PumpkinWith Pumpkin, preventative care is a central part of their pet care philosophy. Emphasizing the importance of preventing and diagnosing issues quickly, their optional preventive plan, Pumpkin Preventive Essentials, includes an annual wellness exam, vaccines, and lab tests to detect diseases, all at 100% reimbursement. Their preventive plans kick in right away.

Embrace Pet InsuranceThe Financial Benefits Of Adopting A Pet- Embrace is an attractive option on the pet insurance front – offering up to 90% coverage on bills from any vet you choose! And you can add a wellness plan for complete protection too. You can even get a personalized pet insurance plan with Embrace. Pre-existing conditions are evaluated and there are wellness rewards for routine care too.

Should you adopt?

The Financial Benefits To Adopting A Pet - Should you adopt?

Adopting a pet instead of buying can save you hundreds of dollars in vet bills, training, and more — but the cost of pet ownership is expensive regardless.

Before you pick your furry friend, consider factors like age and breed. Older pets will often have more health problems, and certain dog breeds like German Shepherds and Rottweilers are more susceptible to issues like hip dysplasia. Additionally, be sure to research the annual costs of owning a pet and set up an emergency fund for unexpected expenses. I spend at least $100 each month for Vira’s vet bills, food, treats, and more.

To help prepare for any extra unplanned bills, you should also consider purchasing a pet insurance policy. About two months after I adopted Vira, we noticed she had a minor health issue that was causing some discomfort. The problem led to hundreds of dollars spent on everything from multiple rounds of antibiotics to prescription dog food and even an ultrasound.


Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of pets given to shelters are not bad pets.

According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, the top 10 reasons pet owners surrender their animals include “moving,” “the cost of pet maintenance,” and “having no time for the pet.” As a result, many pets are relinquished for reasons entirely unrelated to the animal’s behavior or personality.

The reality is adopted pets can make excellent additions to your home — speaking from experience. Not only will they cost less — in the adoption fee, vet bills, training, and more — but they’ll also add a great deal of joy and love to your life. Furthermore, when you choose to adopt instead of buy, you provide needed funding for your local shelter or rescue and free up space for them to take in a new pet, giving that animal a second chance at finding a loving home like yours.

To find available pets from rescues and shelters near you, visit Petfinder.com (where I found Vira) or the Shelter Pet Project.

Pumpkin Advertiser Disclosure: Pumpkin Pet Insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions. Waiting periods, annual deductible, co-insurance, benefit limits and exclusions may apply. For full terms, visit pumpkin.care/insurancepolicy. Products, discounts, and rates may vary and are subject to change. Pumpkin Insurance Services Inc. ("Pumpkin") (NPN #19084749) is a licensed insurance agency, not an insurer. Insurance is underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company (NAIC #21113, Morristown, NJ), a Crum & Forster Company and produced by Pumpkin. Pumpkin Preventive Essentials is not an insurance policy. It is offered as an optional add-on non-insurance benefit. Pumpkin is responsible for the product and administration. Pumpkin Preventive Essentials is not available in all states. For full terms, visit pumpkin.care/customeragreement.

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About the author

Photo of MoneyUnder30 writer Kate Van Pelt
Total Articles: 51
Kate Van Pelt is a writer and editor based in the Pacific Northwest. She has a bachelor’s degree in business management and English and has established her professional career in marketing and research writing. Since 2015, Kate has created educational materials covering a variety of financial topics, from home loans and credit cards to retirement accounts and estate planning. She spends her free time thrift shopping, making cocktails, and enjoying the outdoors with her dogs, Vira and Elmer.