My thoughts on free adoption events

I’m not sure where this week has gone but it’s most certainly flown by. Between shoots, events, my finance job, and my family, it’s been a crazy week. But since returning from vacation, I’ve hit the ground running and I’m really excited about today’s post because it is super informative. Spoiler alert, I love writing posts that educate because we all learn something together. On Saturday, February 23, Anti-Cruelty Society is having a free adoption day at their Everyday Adoption Center. People often question these events so let’s chat about them.

Free adoption events are when the adoption fees for an animal are waived or significantly reduced. Either the organization waives or reduces the fees or a company will sponsor and pay the adoption fee on behalf of the adopters. Generally, the idea behind these events is to increase public awareness of animals sitting in our local shelters and get them into homes.

When a free adoption event is coming up, I see a lot of negative comments surrounding them. People argue that when people adopt animals at no cost, that they can’t care or don’t care for the animals they adopt. I’m here to tell you that those types of statements are bogus.

We can all have opinions, in fact, I encourage it. However, when we’re dealing with lives, I like to follow the facts. The facts are that free and reduced fee adoption events are equally (if not more) successful as regular adoptions.

Maddie’s Fund conducted a study of adopters who had adopted their pet at sponsored fee events. 93% of cats and 95% of dogs were still in the home six to twelve months after the events. When you compare these stats to the national average of adoption return rates, 8% for dogs and 4% for cats, it’s clear these events are working.

Another argument I hear is that when people adopt during free adoption events, they can’t possibly value their pets. Au contraire, 95% of people responded that they have a strong attachment to the animals they adopted. Furthermore, it was found that there was no difference in attachment between people who paid an adoption fee for a cat versus those that adopted a cat for free.

The other main argument I hear is that shelters can’t afford to give away animals for free or at reduced prices. While I agree that every dollar is important to rescues and shelters, if we are moving animals quicker, revenues will actually increase. When the Cat Adoption Team reduced fees, they saw an 89% increase in the number of cats and kittens adopted.

Moving animals quickly through the shelter system is important not only financially, but also for the health of the pet. The longer an animal sits at a facility, the higher the chances that animal will suffer mentally, emotionally, and physically. Getting that animal adopted fast is a win/win for the animals and the organization.

It’s also important to note that adopters are screened the same way at free events. Each rescue and shelter has procedures in place to ensure these animals are going to the best homes possible. The adoption fees might be waived but the applications and screening process are not.

So, why do I mention all of this? So that we can base our decisions (and opinions) on facts. If we ignore these studies and make incorrect comments, we’re only harming the animals. I believe that we should use practices based on studies. So share this article or any article that documents the success of free adoption events so we can continue to learn, grow, and work together to save more animals.


Kelly – This sweet girl is one of the longest term resident at Anti-Cruelty Society. To be honest, I’m not totally sure why. She came on a transport from Alabama and while she may take a while to warm up, she’s super sweet once she feels comfortable. She gets along with most dogs but can be selective so a slow introduction would be best. Kelly is available for adoption through the Anti-Cruelty Society at their Everyday Adoption Center. For more information about Kelly, click here.

Congrats to Wally! His forever people scooped him up last week. Congrats boy!


I got this shirt from one of my favorite local, women-owned shops, Milk Handmade. Almost every piece is made right here in Chicago so you can feel good supporting small businesses. You can shop my tee here (sold out in green) and the rest of the look below!

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All photos: Margaret Rajic


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