You do not purchase an animal from a Rescue Group or Shelter, you pay an Adoption Fee which helps off set the medical expenses and care of that animal. The Adoption Fees never cover all the expenses, they only cover a very small portion of them.
I understand what you're saying and often use the term "adopt" myself, partly for those reasons, and partly because I am someone who feels like my dog is a member of the family. Having said that, though, the term "purchase" is not technically incorrect when you pay a fee and obtain an animal for the rest of it's natural life who is considered property in a legal sense.
So, I use both terms. I go back and forth fairly randomly, though in some cases where I use "purchase" (Not in all cases, sometimes it's just random) it's to underline that a price was paid for a dog who the new owner has, well, ownership of, versus paying $100 a year to lease the dog from it's actual owner or something. Generally, this is in discussions where we are talking about a theoretical or actual situation where owners want to make the choice they feel is best for their beloved pet, who they have legal ownership of, and are forbidden from doing so from contracts that I'd typically more readily associate with a lease when it comes to the non-animal world.
That's not to say the contracts are illegal, it's just one of the analogies I use to describe one of the elements of my personal perspective on the matter and why I avoid signing them and advise others who I think generally would share my beliefs on the matter if they were aware of the implications of some of these contracts and some real life examples of how they are used against owners (Such as my relative, who I doubt will be signing a contract for a dog again after her current experience) not to. I know some will continue to sign them, either because they agree with the practice, don't care much one way or the other (At least not enough to look outside the humane society/shelter system for a pet), feel strongly that they want to adopt from an organization that demands a contract for reasons unrelated to the contract despite their opposition to it, or can not find a pet outside the contractual system who meets their needs (Possibly in terms, price, breed, etc.), and all of that is fine.
Perhaps if your relative does not want to adhere to the Adoption Agreement or pay the fine, then maybe it would be in her best interest to return the dog to the shelter.
Obviously, my relative is not going to return her beloved pet who she's had for several months, and who her children play with, to an uncertain future in a shelter where they'll still neuter it and perhaps it won't find a new home. I understand what you're saying, but it's out of the question for her.
As I said, ultimately, she has decided she will neuter the dog, though only after looking into the cost of vasectomy and seeing if that is something that is financially prudent for her and would satisfy her local human society (I've heard conflicting things about the cost of vasectomies, so she'll look into how things work in her area). I think her ideal solution, like mine, would be to do neither, but that is unfortunately not an option at this point- admittedly partially her fault because she should have read the contract before signing it (Though I think they may be some element her of humane society officials verbally playing up the refundable deposit and not mentioning the potential fine at all and hiding it somewhere figuring most people don't read the contract. She still should have read it, but the humane society may want to consider a large sign or making sure people are verbally aware of their policy before adopting a pet.).
I have opened the site in a new tab and will take a look at it when I am done responding to posts on the forum. I have also received a private message from someone who agrees with me. So it is nice to know that I am not the only one.
I believe the primary argument of those who favor mandatory spay/neuter laws is the huge number of animals that are euthanized each year because nobody wants them and the alternative is starvation in the wild. That number exceeded 45,000 in Maryland alone during 2011.
I understand the reasoning, but I am not sure the ends justify the means. I also know I personally could not live with myself if I did that to my dog (That's not an attempt to condemn those who do or to make anyone feel guilty- I am just saying that personal beliefs would prevent me from doing it without feeling immense guilt).
Again, I do want to underline that I not condemning anyone who makes a different decision or who has different beliefs than I have on this issue. I understand where you folks are coming from, and respect your feelings on the matter. I just respectfully disagree, and support a legal framework that allows this to be or stay a matter of personal choice
rather than an official legal mandate.