When You Head To The Shelter To Adopt, Please Don't Walk Past The Older Pets

When You Head To The Shelter To Adopt, Please Don't Walk Past The Older Pets

The adult animals need a home too, so let them become your new best friend.


There is a very sad reality in the world of pets, and it's that any older pet who finds themselves at the pound may very well be doomed to live out the rest of their lives there.

With the holiday season approaching, many people will be buying pets for their significant others, their kids, or themselves. I felt like this is a good time to remind everyone that there are more animals looking for their forever family than just the litters of puppies and kittens being bred as presents for this time of year.

When new families or young couples decide they're ready for the responsibility of a pet, everyone pretty much defaults to searching for a newborn puppy or kitten. I love baby animals as much as the next person, but that's just the thing: everyone loves baby animals. Any puppies or kittens who somehow end up at the shelter will undoubtedly be adopted quickly by prospective new pet parents.

But those baby animals are not the only ones watching you walk down the shelter hallway. There are numerous older pets watching you from behind their cages, hoping against hope that you'll stop to look at them, and maybe even give them a chance. The heartbreaking truth is, most of these pets won't get a second glance.

I'm not even speaking exclusively about senior pets, either; some pets will wind up in the shelter at a relatively young age, maybe 2 or 3, and remain there until they also qualify as senior pets. Any animal over the age of "puppy" or "kitten" will sit in the shelter, forgotten, until the rare pet parent specifically in search of an older pet takes a chance on them.

If you're looking to adopt a pet, please consider looking at the older pets at the shelters. A puppy or kitten is cute, sure, but they will grow up one day, and there's an endless demand for baby animals.

If you can find it in yourself, don't go for the babies. Be that pet parent who looks at the older pets.

Many older pets find themselves in shelters by no wrongdoing of their own. Some families will get a pet and decide they don't have the time. Some people will adopt, but fall on hard times and have to give up their beloved friends for the pet's own good. The colder people will decide they simply don't like the pet and abandon them. Whatever the pet's origin story, they all deserve a second chance.

There are also a lot of advantages to adopting an older pet. Nearly all shelters spay and neuter their pets if they arrive unfixed, and their shots will be up-to-date; whereas when you adopt a puppy or kitten, you may have to pay for their surgery and first-year shots yourself. Most older pets will come to you already housetrained, and they will likely already know their names, as well. They will already have developed their own personalities, so rather than adopting a new animal who may not be a personality fit for you, you can tell the shelter workers what nature of pet you're looking for, and they will point you to an animal who may be a match for you.

Plus, like I keep saying… puppies and kittens will always have a chance. People always want cuter, smaller animals. If only one person who reads this article decides to adopt an older pet rather than a baby, that's one more animal getting a second chance at a happy life than before. That's one more abandoned soul finding their forever home.

If you're set on adopting a baby animal for whatever reason, I won't stop you. They need forever homes too. But please, consider the older pets when you adopt. All they want is a second chance at a life full of love.

You could be the person to give that to them.

Head over to BARCS Animal Shelter, the Maryland SPCA, or your local shelter to find your next best friend!

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5 Ways Impulsively Getting A Dog Saved My Mental Health

Those four paws are good for a lot more than just face kisses.


Shortly before my husband and I officially moved out onto our own, he surprised me with a puppy in hand on the morning of our anniversary. Moving out, tackling college, and everything in between, I thought another huge responsibility was the last thing I needed. However, in reality, Oakley, the lab/Australian shepard/collie mix, was exactly what I needed to get back to "me."

He provides emotional support

One of the most obvious reasons is how much emotional support dogs, (and other respective animals) can provide. His paws have been accidentally stepped on, and he certainly isn't a fan of the forced flea/tick medication doses, but less than 30 seconds later, he is without fail immediately by my side again, tail wagging and ready for more kisses. Although he is not trained or certified as an ESA, it's without a doubt he has effectively (and unconsciously) combated random anxiety attacks or feelings of being alone.

He requires being cared for

You'll heavily judge every crazy fur mama, as did, I until you become one. Getting Oakley immediately got me consistently back on my feet and forced me to ask myself, "What does he need today?"Even simple, easy tasks like taking him out to run/go to the bathroom had me excited and forced me to find a motive in the day to day activities. I loved no longer having even the mere choice to be unproductive. Don't want to start your day? Well, Oakley needs his day started, so let's get moving.

He serves as protection

It's no surprise how far a dog's loyalty will go to protect their owner. For decades, specially trained dogs have had life-saving responsibilities assigned to them. Even being married, my husband and I's schedules vary significantly to where it is not uncommon for me to be alone. The slightest sound or shadow from outside our door immediately initiates barking. In the bathroom taking a shower? He's there. Knowing that Oakley is looking out, even when I get carried away with tasks like cooking dinner, always calms my nerves.

He's become something to look forward to

The nice thing about having Oakley is regardless of how my day goes, I know exactly how it is going to end. Whether I passed an exam with flying colors or got the lowest grade in the class, I know what waits for me when I open the door at home. After a long day, nothing resets my mood like walking into a face that is just as happy and excited to see me!

He encourages bonds with others

If you want your social interaction to sky rocket: get a puppy. No, I'm serious. You'll have people wanting to come over and visit "you" (let's be real… your puppy), like it's your last day on Earth. For me, this was exactly what I needed. Getting Oakley had family members constantly checking in to see how he was growing, learning, etc. Not only did this encourage more interactions with family and friends, but it also "livened" my husband and I's home life. Instead of the "normal" weekend nights consisting of Netflix and MarioKart, (which are enjoyable in their own respective ways), spending our nights playing Monkey in the Middle with our new four-legged friend has proven much more entertaining.

So ideally was it the right time to get a dog? Probably not. However, adding Oakley to my small little family combated anxiety and depression in ways I wouldn't have ever thought possible.

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What It's Really Like To Have A Dog In College

The challenges of pet-ownership on a student schedule will be difficult, but worth the rewards.


This is Peppa. She's 20 pounds of pure angst, sass, and soft belly. The first day I took her home she was 4 pounds. She was so small and pure, my heart grew like the Grinch's on Christmas, but having a pet can be a little more complicated than man's best friend.

She whined all through the night for a month straight; it sounded exactly like a baby crying. I had to wear earplugs and take her out every two hours so she could go potty, then bring her back up so that she could whine even more.

Having a pet in college at all is no easy task. Dogs are especially difficult because they're so dependent on their owners.

Be prepared to wake up early. Be prepared to pick up poop, clean pee out of the carpet, and be prepared for the costs of damages your puppy will cause to your apartment if you aren't careful. There were days when my patience was close to cliff-diving, but her sweet little Peppa face always reminded me that it's worth it to have her around.

Also, be prepared to have a new best friend. This animal will depend on you as a protector. It will want to spend as much time with you as possible, so leaving it home alone for prolonged periods of time is not exactly ideal. I leave Peppa home alone a maximum of 4-5 hours at a time. If you have a busy schedule and can't make it back home for 8 hours at a time, it probably just isn't feasible at this moment in your life to adopt a dog.

The feeling of being responsible for Peppa is both amazing and high-stakes at the same time. There are days when I wish she could make my life a little easier, but life without her would be ever-so-boring. She brings me joy and everyone always stops to say hello to her on walks.

Yet despite the challenge, there is nothing more comforting than knowing that your dog is full of love for you.

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