Welcome Green Monsters! We're your online guide to making conscious choices that help people, animals and the planet.
Download food monster: the biggest, baddest, yummiest vegan food app!
Buy the #EatForThePlanet book



You walk into your local mall, or maybe see an ad online and the cute wiggly puppies instantly draw you in. Their big, bright eyes and happy smiles pull at your heart strings. Sadness sets in and your animal-loving heart makes you want to “save” one of those puppies by bringing him or her home. You’ve heard the stories of where pet store puppies really come from but buying a puppy just this once surely won’t do any harm.

Before you act, take a moment to think about what you’re really doing. Sure, the puppy you purchase will have a great life, but what about the parents? Who is going to rescue them? The harsh truth is, by purchasing that adorable puppy, you’re condemning its parents, along with countless others, to a life of misery inside a puppy mill.

Dogs sold in pet stores, at flea markets, or even online can fetch up to thousands of dollars. So what’s the real difference between the cost of a dog rescued from the shelter, compared to a dog bought from a breeder or a pet store? Let’s break it down.

The Cost of a Puppy Mill Dog

Having a puppy is exciting, and from teaching a child about responsibility to wanting a “certain” type of dog, many people like to buy puppies, instead of adopting from their local shelter. But puppies that are bought from pet stores can come from large-scale commercial dog breeding operations, also known as puppy mills.

Puppy mills are large commercial dog breeding facilities, typically run on a “factory farm” model that prioritizes the owner’s profit above the dogs’ health and well-being. Breeding dogs in such facilities are typically confined to tiny, crowded wire cages and provided with the bare minimum of care required to keep them alive. A chronic lack of space, insufficient nutrition, poor hygiene standards, and routine overbreeding of the dogs are par for the course in puppy mills, causing a number of serious health issues for the dogs. These issues can include severely matted fur; eye, ear, and throat infections; dental problems; and severe genetic deformities such as cleft palates.

Purchasing a purebred dog from a breeder can cost anywhere between $500 to $3,000 dollars. And what are you getting? The dog. That’s it.


Buying a dog may get you an American Kennel Club (AKC) Dog Registration Application form, but this simply allows the buyer to register the new puppy. The registration does not guarantee anything about your new dog.

But dogs from puppy mills need homes too! Who cares about the money, I want to help the dog! Well, when you buy a puppy from a pet store, even if the conditions in the store aren’t all that great, don’t allow yourself to believe you’re rescuing that animal. What you’re really doing is creating an open spot for another puppy to be sold for profit – and the parent dogs stuck in the puppy mill who pay the ultimate price.

The Cost of a Rescue Dog

If you go to your local animal shelter and adopt a dog, the adoption fee is usually anywhere from $50-$150. But for such a cheap price, something must be wrong with the dog … right? Nope. Nothing is wrong with the dog. The adoption fee goes towards the cost of care your dog received while at the animal shelter.

What’s more, many animal shelters regularly offer specials on dogs and cats, with waived fees or discounted adoption fees in an effort to help reduce the number of animals in their care and open up space for more animals.


So what all are you paying for when you adopt a dog? A lot!

Spay and Neuter: The average cost to spay and neuter an animal varies between your city, the size of your dog, as well as their overall health. The average range for a dog spay or neuter can range from $45-175 for an animal shelter, not including pain relief medication. If you were to get your dog spayed or neutered on your own, the cost could range from $200-$500.

Shots: Vaccinations add up and for a dog to receive vaccinations to prevent Distemper, Parvo, Kennel Cough, and rabies, the cost could easily add up to $40. If you were to pay for the vaccinations yourself, you’d be looking at a range between $20-$150.

Microchip: Almost all animal shelters won’t let an animal leave until they have been micro chipped. Shelters constantly see lost dogs and cats and if the animal isn’t microchipped, the odds of them being reunited with their people are slim to none. For a shelter to microchip an animal, it costs about $20. If you were to microchip your dog on your own, say at your veterinarian’s office, the cost could range from $45-$60.

Extras: Some animal shelters will throw in ‘extras’ such as a free bag of food or possibly even collars and leashes to take your new friend home with.

Since dogs from puppy mills are often wrought with health issues from unsanitary conditions and inbreeding, typically shelter dogs are healthier, so in the long run, you will probably save money.

And the cost of knowing you rescued a deserving dog from your local shelter? Priceless! Because you decided to rescue a dog, instead of fueling the puppy mill industry by buying a dog, one lucky dog will now shower you with unconditional love every single day. Plus, you freed up space in the shelter so another animal can come in and be saved too!

What You Can Do

Puppy mills will stay in business as long as the public keeps buying puppies, so the only way to end the cycle of cruelty is to stop buying from pet stores. By refusing to give them business, you’re not only taking a stand against puppy mills but preventing cruelty towards other “milled” animals. If you’re ever concerned about the conditions inside a pet store, the best thing you can do is report it to local authorities or a humane agency.

Adoption is the best option. If a pet store is hosting an adoption event or featuring animals from a local shelter or rescue, by all means, bring that cutie home! When you adopt, you are truly saving a life and creating an open spot for another animal, who may have otherwise been euthanized, to have a second chance.

If you want to know how you can help put an end to abusive puppy mills, check out these other One Green Planet articles:

Lead image source: N_S/Pixabay

Want to read more posts like this? Sign up for our newsletter below!​

Browse through some recent posts below:

Why Feeding White Bread to Wild Birds is Killing Them

Feeding White Bread to Wild Birds is Killing Them

Why We Need to Teach Kids That Exotic Animals Are Not Pets or Toys

Why Its Important to Teach Kids That Exotic Animals Are Not Pets or Toys

14 Signs You Are Obsessed With Your Dog (In a Good Way!)

15 Signs You are Obsessed With Your Pooch (in a good way!)

Happy Dolphins? We Can’t Really Know: Statement on Study of Captive Dolphin Welfare

Disclosure: One Green Planet accepts advertising, sponsorship, affiliate links and other forms of compensation, which may or may not influence the advertising content, topics or articles written on this site. Click here for more information.

0 comments on “The Cost Difference Between a Rescue Dog and Puppy Mill Dog”

Click to add comment
10 Months Ago

Can anyone recommend a good source to find out which dog breed is best for me? I\'ve taken a bunch of different quizzes online and they all have different answers. I\'ve also looked at some books on Amazon. Any definitive source you recommend? Thank you!

10 Months Ago

I don\'t know where you got the quotes for shelter dog adoption fees. Our shelters around here cost any where from $400 to $700. For those on fixed incomes that is impossible to save up that much money to adopt. The shelters are always complaining about over crowding of animals Even cat adptions are $300 to $500. There are many loving households out there that would love a dog or cat but the shelters make it impossible for them to give a loving home to a shelter pet.

17 Aug 2017

I agree....adoption fees are high. The application questions are very invasive and the some of the requirements,varies per pet and adoption agency, can also make it difficult to adopt. Many households would love to adopt but most requirements are unrealistic for the average worker person running a household.

17 Aug 2017

If the person doesn\'t have a yard...they can\'t adopt. If the person works 8 hours or more in a day...they can\'t adopt. If the person has children under a certain age....they can\'t adopt. If the person chooses not to attend training classes...they can\'t adopt. Although I do understand why some stipulations are put into place, others "requests" do hinder or discourage a person from adopting. The average person works 8-10hr days, that doesn\'t mean the pet would be attended to or loved any less than someone who\'s able to work less hours and be at home. In some areas or regions most households do not have yards, does that mean the pet would get less attention, potty breaks, or walks because of it.

17 Aug 2017

To address De and Mo\'s concerns, I\'ve been a volunteer at our local no-kill shelter going on 8 years. Allow me to explain the fees and the so-called \'invasive\' application. No-kill shelters are non-profit and exist solely on adoption fees, donations, bequeaths and fund-raisers. Dogs in our shelter range from $250-$500, depending on age, breed, health, purebreed vs mutt and vet issues. We\'re open admission, which means we take in all animals; we don\'t pick and choose who we take in. These dogs are fully vetted including all shots (including rabies with original certificate), spayed/neutered, treated for fleas/ticks, claws trimmed, de-wormed and any/all health issues are dealt with if it arrived in rough shape,. The dog is also micro-chipped and registered to the adopter during the adoption process. Add to that, each and every dog is PROFESSIONALLY temperament-tested. Dogs are test for things like food aggression; whether it dislikes children/seniors; aversion to bicycles, walkers, men (especially in uniform); other dogs/cats/miscellaneous animals. Some dogs are very skittish and need special people to not lash out; some dogs were never trained, ergo, misbehavior is a one-way ticket to euthanization if the dog acts out, so some dogs require the people to take the dog to training. We go out of our way to match each dog with the best possible adopter. It doesn\'t come cheap, yet we do it for the best interest of the animal and for the adopter to ensure a forever home. As for cats, we charge $150 for adults and $175 for kittens; the same applies to felines, except the behavioral training. We do, however, observe cats\' behavior and know which ones should go to which home and thrive. I would say that people get more bang for your buck by adopting from a shelter. You also get a full medical report to take with you, so everything we know about the animal, you will also know. We give a starter kit that includes wet and dry food, blanket, toys and coupons for your local pet store along with literature specific to the animal. Some dogs require a yard because of their breed and temperament. It is unreasonable to expect a shelter to adopt a large dog to someone in a tiny apartment and expect the dog to be loose all day, alone in said apartment, or to keep it prisoner all day in a crate. Small dogs don\'t require a large yard, which is why seniors favor them as do senior housing. Some dogs like to be in a crate. We divulge that too. If you cannot devote the time and required attention to a particular breed of dog, we don\'t want you to adopt from us. That would be an adoption failure and who knows what would happen to the dog? Not everyone would be honest enough to return the dog to the shelter they got it from. If someone is on a fixed income and cannot afford fees (depending on the reason), we encourage them to go to a high-kill shelter and give them a 2-page list of other shelters, both no-kill and high-kill. High kill shelters have less requirements since those animals will be killed otherwise, through no fault of their own. People can also check petfinder.com to find the animal of choice. All things considered, please be mindful that we do what we do for the animal\'s best interest and that is what is important. Thank you.

17 Aug 2017

To add one more comment, when we adopt dogs we take several applications for the same dog. The reason for that is we are looking for the best possible match for said dog. Cats are one application per adopter, although sometimes we may take a second application if the first one is uncertain (landlord issues, number of animals, etc.). Once a match is made for the dog, we do a foster-to-adopt. That means the dog goes home with the potential adopter for a few days to see if the dog is comfortable within the family dynamic. If it works, the adopter returns to the shelter, does the adoption paperwork, pays the fee and the adoption is finalized including the registration of the microchip to the family. If, for whatever reason, the dog does not work out in the home, the dog is returned to the shelter. No harm, no foul and no black mark against the adopter. Sometimes it just doesn\'t work and that is OK. We would rather be sure ahead of time before anything is finalized and the adopter hasn\'t shelled out any money. They are free to choose another dog if they want. If they don\'t and want to go somewhere else, that\'s OK too. See what I mean? We do everything within our power to place cats and dogs in the best possible situation. There is a reason for those questions; it\'s like playing detective sometimes. We also encourage adopters to let us know how things are working out and if there are any issues, we are more than willing to work through them.

17 Aug 2017

Sorry to be long-winded, but it\'s really important to understand why we do certain things. We take in surrenders and strays - some are in horrific shape. If they need any type of surgery, we get it for them - dental, broken bones, heart issues, eye issues...you name it, they are seen by the vet and any hospitalization is done at no extra charge to the adoption fee. Our medical fees have soared in the past couple years, almost triple. Occasionally even no-kill shelters must euthanize, but only (3) reasons: contagious animal whose contagion cannot be arrested; terminal animal in pain that cannot be treated with no quality of life left; vicious animal (mostly dogs) who cannot be rehabilitated. To let loose a vicious dog to the public is like a loaded gun; it cannot happen. That\'s it. I\'\'m hoping these posts have enlightened people just how much work goes into our furry guests. We also suffer heartbreak on a daily basis by what we see; sometimes the depravity of people is astonishing.

05 Feb 2018

Actually, adoptions from our local shelter range from $100-$300 for a dog and $25-$75 per cat. I guess it depends on where you\'re located and the shelters around your area!

10 Months Ago

When you "adopt" a shelter animal, you are not only saving his/her life, but opening up a space for one of the thousands of lost, homeless animals that come in EVERY DAY to these shelters. It gives another deserving animal a chance for happiness and a home. Shelter animals are some of the most grateful animals on the face of this earth. Trust me, they KNOW when they have been adopted, just as they know when their owners have discarded them for whatever reason.


Subscribe to our Newsletter

Follow us on

Do Not Show This Again


Submit to OneGreenPlanet

Terms & Conditions ×