GOLDEN, Colo. - To help pay for escalating care costs and also to give older pets a chance at getting adopted, many animal shelter have tiered pricing that charges more for puppies, kittens and purebreds.
Some might think it's price gouging, but the higher prices, which can run from $300-$500, help cover care costs, especially for animals who come in with medical needs.
"We take in 8,000 animals every single year," Foothills Animal Shelter spokeswoman Jennifer Strickland said. "So that can mean anywhere between 200 to 500 animals we are housing at a time."
And of those 8,000 animals, puppies and kittens go quickly, in a matter of a few hours, Strickland said.
On the other end of the spectrum is an older black long-haired tabby named Tony Soprano. Tony got his sobriquet because he was severely obese when he was brought in by animal control last year.
The cat was in bad shape when he first arrived at the shelter; maggots were burrowing in his skin, he lost part of an ear to frostbite and of course his unhealthy girth.
But after several trips to the vet and seven months on a special diet, Tony Soprano has lost over a dozen pounds and ready for adoption.
It's the special cases like Tony Soprano which strain Foothills modest budget - less than $3 million.
"It has been something that has worked really well for us," Strickland said. "I think why other shelters do it and why we do it too is because you see the range of animals that come through our door. Those that may be here for only few hours versus those who may be with us for months at a time."
The average cost Foothills Animal Shelter pays for treating and caring for its charges is $200. For dogs and cats over the age of eight, they charge an $80 adoption fee.
"So we are as resourceful as possible," Strickland said. "$200 an animal, that adds up very, very quickly. So every single kind of donation can help us."
Even with the tiered adoption fees, Foothills Animal Shelter runs in the red if it was to rely solely on the adoption fees.
For more information, visit Foothills Animal Shelter's website at www.foothillsanimalshelter.org.