Keeping in mind that shelter life is often especially stressful for older dogs and cats, and for animals with special needs, we want to ensure their stay with us is as short as possible.
Unfortunately, older animals and those with special needs are typically the last to be adopted, even though they are just as loving, loyal, and delightful as the young ones.
At our shelter, an animal is considered a senior once it reaches 6 years, and elderly at 10 years and up. Advantages of adopting an older pet are: 1) Older animals with a history of living within a family may settle in more quickly than a puppy or kitten. 2) Adult animals won’t have teething issues and will come into your life less likely to cause destruction. Many are already house-trained and have already mastered basic commands. 3) It may be easier to bond with older animals due to their typically calmer dispositions, their familiarity with home environments, and their experience living with other animals. 4) Adult animals require less supervision than puppies or kittens, who sometimes can’t distinguish between safe situations and dangerous ones and may not know—or care—what “no” means. 5) Whereas the personalities of puppies and kittens change as they grow up, the personalities of adult animals are fully-formed, which makes them more predictable. That doesn’t mean adult animals can’t learn—in fact, they can be amazingly adaptive.
A special needs pet is defined as “one who has a behavioral and/or medical challenge that requires specialized care and attention from our staff, volunteers, foster parents, and potential adopters. This includes a range of physical disabilities, chronic medical conditions or behavioral issues that require ongoing vigilance or special care to manage.”
Some examples of pets with special needs include those with disabilities, such as deafness, blindness, or mobility issues, those with chronic or terminal medical conditions like feline AIDS, cancer, or heart disease, elderly pets with age-related conditions, and animals with behavioral issues, often stemming from abuse or neglect. Animals that might benefit from post-adoption medical care for conditions that are not life threatening, such as benign mammary tumors, may be considered “special needs” as well.