Tip #5 Dogs and Charity Auctions

Dogs and Charity Auctions - Dogs can be a great item for your charity auction, but HOW you sell them can make the difference - and WHO you sell to is REALLY important!

First a disclaimer: Our company does not endorse the sale of puppies at auctions.  However, recognizing that many organizations wish to sell puppies at their event (for a variety of reasons) we do offer information so that process is most beneficial not only for the client, but especially for the animal that had no choice in the matter!  With that in mind, we offer infomation on this page, and through our consulting services.


I recently received the following email from a good client of mine about an upcoming event:


Hi Jay -


Got a question - we potentially have TWO dogs for auction: a pug and a black lab. Since these are two totally different types of dogs (and most likely different types of buyers), how would it be to auction off both? Instead of $5K for one dog, isn't it likely we might get $4K each for 2 dogs, thus increasing our profit - or is that not the likely scenario??

So, here is what I answered:

Two similar dogs are sold differently than two completely different dogs. The most expedient way to handle this is to bring out BOTH dogs at the same time, and offer them as "choice to the high bidder." Once the first is chosen, we offer the other to the second high bidder, but if that bidder wanted dog number one, then we merely start the bidding over, but at about 50% of where dog number one sold for. We then let the bids climb from there. Dog one established the "expected bid range" for dog number two.


Now if both dogs are the same (like from the same litter, and same gender) you can show just one, and then after the final bid bring out the second one and offer it to the second high bidder at the same price as the first one.  If they are different genders, then use the "choice" scenario as described above.


It is never a good idea to sell two dogs at different points in the auction, like at item # 4 and item # 12.  The "cute factor" can only be generated once in the auction, and the bidders might hold back the bidding on the first dog thinking that the second will go for less money (which is true) but by the time you get to the second dog, the bidding on the first dog has already established a "ceiling" price hurting the bid activity on the second dog.  By selling both at the same time you avoid this trap.



TRAP:  Many organizations are not appropriate for selling a puppy.  If the event is a family oriented event, such as for a school, a puppy might be just the right thing to get the emotional energy flowing.  However, be sensitive to the fact that some in the community will take issue with selling animals.  As a rule, you are best to avoid doing this unless you are 100% sure you will be selling to a good home, and are able to follow ALL the safeguards outlined below in TIPS:

TIPS:  If you do decide to sell a puppy, consider working with your local animal shelter to place a "rescue" puppy in your event.  They will be able to guide you on the best practices to follow so the animal and the new family are successfully connected.  You will also be helping them find needed homes, while you get the reward of the sale.  Pure bred puppies from breeders will also sell well, but do not help place the many puppies in shelters, which should be the first consideration.  .

TIP#1:  Sell puppies that are mature enough to be partially trained (housebroken) and PLEASE NEVER send the new puppy home that night with the winning bidder!  Insist that the puppy be delivered the next day, or later after the bidder has had a chance to get their house prepared, AND the dog is not traumatized by suddenly going home to a strange territory and left immediately alone over night.  Allow for a home inspection by the local shelter to be sure the buyer is prepared for the responsibility and care, and consider that the puppy must have a chance to acclimate to the new surroundings during the daytime.  Finally, ALWAYS make it clear that the winning bidder can change their mind the next day without any hassle if the sale was the result of a little excess energy or wine!

Tip #2:  If you do decide to sell a puppy, do so early in the auction but never as item number 1.  Sell in the first third of the items when the energy is high, for both the bidder, and the puppy!