While promoting our recent national ‘Clear the Shelter’ $29 promotion, we had some concerned supporters reach out to us. They believed that by lowering the prices, we’d motivate people to adopt pets for the wrong reasons including by prompting ‘impulse purchases.’ A few also felt that we were in some way devaluing the animal by this promotion.
So why do we, as a national charity with a mission to protect animals, not share the same concerns? In truth, both international research and our local stats prove that such beliefs are actually a myth.
To give you some context I’ll share my own experience.
Many of you know that I have an old cat named, Nasa. I found her when I was working for NASA in Washington D.C (hence her name). I was working alone on a holiday and all day I heard the sounds of a cat meowing. I was able to find a maintenance person to help me search under the building.
Just in case, I left a tub of water at the entrance and went back to work only to hear the sound of the cat meowing again. Where was it?!
At the end of the day, I decided to look one last time before I left. Much to my surprise, I could see a tiny black and white kitten with blue eyes and shaky legs. I held my hand out, and she came right up to me. I was chosen, and we’ve been inseparable ever since. That was about 17 years ago.
Since then, she has joined me on every move I’ve made including three cities, two continents, eight different homes plus a quarantine stint in Sydney. Because I found my cat as a kitten, you can say that I got her for free. But do I love her any less because I did not spend money on her adoption price? Absolutely not!
This is precisely what research studies across the world have shown. Despite the myths, the price that an owner spends on an animal does not diminish the love they have for that pet. Nor does it increase the chances that they would return it or commit animal cruelty. There is simply no correlation as even our own statistics show.
Most importantly, price promotions do not affect our adoption processes. Cooper, the adorable Bulldog Boxer Cross, is a perfect example of this. Despite immense interest and a viral following as the only dog not adopted that weekend, we still have not been able to find the right family for this special boy. Why? Cooper has specific behavioural needs, and therefore despite the immense interest, he’s still at our Weston Shelter as we don’t want him returned later for sending him home with the wrong family.
Some may ask if price does not impact animal welfare, why don’t we just give away animals or lower the adoption price? While same places actually do this, RSPCA ACT is dependent on that fee to help us recover some of the cost that we spend on each animal. At the same time, if animal numbers are too high, we usually see an increase in diseases and behavioural concerns. This is the main reason why we do offer a price promotion from time to time when we get too full.
Animal welfare has, and always will, remain a top priority at RSPCA ACT.
If you want to check out some of the research for yourself, here are a few links: