Most people walk into a shelter hoping to find the cutest little puppy or kitten to bring home, completely overlooking the older animals who have so much love to give. Tragically, animals past the age of six or seven are often deemed unadoptable simply because of their age. They spend the longest time at shelters and rescues before they find their forever homes – if they find one at all. Both dogs and cats of advanced age have higher euthanasia rates than their younger counterparts. They can often live the rest of their lives out in the shelter, homeless and alone.
This November is National Adopt A Senior Pet Month, and shelters and animal rescue organizations across the country hope those looking to adopt a new furry friend this month will consider adding a senior pet to the family!
People assume that older animals at shelters are unfriendly, and were abandoned because of health issues, aggression or other undesirable personality traits. However, this is far from the truth. Many senior animals that end up in shelters were cherished companions of elderly people who died or had to move to an assisted living facility that wouldn’t allow pets. There was no one to assume responsibility of the treasured animal, so it ended up in a shelter.
Similarly, economic hardships may force a family to relinquish a beloved pet. Other times, momentous changes such as a new baby, divorce or move can lead to surrender of a much-loved adult pet. A few older canines are former show dogs who were deemed no longer useful and brought to the shelter to be euthanized. In cases of neglect, senior animals end up at the shelter once animal control steps in and rescues them from bad, harmful situations. Or sometimes, elderly animals, sweet as can be, are traded in for more fun and adventurous pups or kittens. No matter the reason, many senior dogs and cats at shelters are affectionate, great companions and have just faced unfortunate circumstances.
So many amazing senior animals are out there just waiting for you to find them and bring them home. Here are the reasons a senior canine or feline friend could be just what you need:
- They are typically calmer and less energetic, making them easier to handle. They also cause less trouble and aren’t teething or partaking in destructive behavior.
- They are easier to train or even already trained!
- They are less demanding and fit in well in many kinds of households. Where a younger puppy may need a big house and yard to sprint around in, an older dog may be happy in an apartment and won’t need to exert as much energy.
- Their personality is already developed – you know what you’re getting. When you get a kitten or a puppy, you don’t always know their temperament. You may get a kitten that seems affectionate, but as it grows up, it becomes more standoffish and skittish. You also know their appearance won’t change. A puppy you thought was going to be a small dog breed could turn out to be a different breed entirely, and bigger than anticipated.
- They are less expensive – you likely will need to spend less money on training as well as on all the other supplies younger animals need. Although you might think vet bills would be more expensive for older dogs, puppies and kittens have their fair share of medical bills as well.
- They are even more loveable. Older animals need you and will appreciate you. They have been lacking in a secure home environment, and once they know they are safe, they will always love and trust you.
Senior pets often make the most grateful adoptees and getting an older pet can be very rewarding. So next time you’re at the shelter, don’t forget to say hello to some of the older animals – one could be your next best friend.