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.