An animal shelter in Ohio has some people questioning a new policy that allows potential adopters to place bids on popular pets.

At the Licking County Animal Shelter in Newark, fights used to break out when two or more people wanted to go home with the same dog, Chief Dog Warden Dave Shellhouse told WSYX.

"Now any money we get over the adoption cost is considered a donation and goes toward medical expenses for dogs in the shelter. That money goes toward things like emergency surgeries or for dogs hit by cars," said Shellhouse.

In the past, pets were adopted with a "first come, first served" policy. If a pet was in its mandatory three-day holding period, people could put a $10 deposit to reserve a pet. But popular pets — usually small dogs and purebred dogs — often had many interested people and arguments would break out, said Shellhouse.

This new plan, he hopes, will take out the fighting aspect and instead let people offer what they want to pay.

Some people think this is unfair to people who might not be able to afford higher prices and may encourage breeders to buy the purebred dogs.

"It would definitely be off-putting because it is just the highest bidder wins, and it puts a lot of people to the side where they feel they couldn't afford it," Sandra Spencer told WSYX. "Most of us consider these animals pets, part of the family. This definitely makes them more of a livestock versus a family pet, makes it look like a piece of property."

Other shelters use the bidding policy when more than one person is interested in a pet.

When actor James Van Der Beek fell in love with a dog at a charity event, he was told to show up at the shelter a few days later to sign the adoption papers. Apparently, another woman was told the same thing, reports TMZ. According to the Los Angeles shelter's policy, when more than one person wants the same dog, they had to write down a bid — with the highest bid winning the pooch. Van Der Beek had the bigger offer and went home with the pup, reportedly making the other woman cry.

When TV stations or newspapers feature adoptable pets, people who want them are typically asked to offer a sealed bid.

But not all dog shelters think the bidding idea is fair. Also in Ohio, county commissioners ruled that the Athens County Dog Shelter can't use sealed bids to adopt popular dogs, reports the Athens Messenger. Currently, the shelter does a drawing if more than one person wants to adopt the same dog. But the dog warden said high-value purebred dogs attract people from out of the state for the drawing, possibly to resell the pets. He was hoping sealed bids would be a better solution.

"We need to get a better system for adopting the popular dogs," Dog Warden Shane Montgomery told the Athens Messenger. "If we're ever going to get out of the red, I don't think we should let people take advantage of the shelter to make money."

Mary Jo DiLonardo covers a wide range of topics focused on nature, health, science and anything that helps make the world a better place.

Should we bid on shelter pets?
Bidding on shelter pets brings in more money for the shelter, but is it fair to people who want to adopt a pet?