Syracuse, N.Y. (NCC News)– November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month- a month dedicated to helping older animals find their “fur-ever” homes. During this month, rescues and shelters across the country advertise senior animals in hopes that people looking to adopt a pet will consider making the new addition a senior.
Adopting older animals can have many benefits:
- Their personality and size are already known.
- They are usually calmer.
- Most are already house trained.
- Most know basic commands.
- They make fewer messes than puppies and kittens.
DeeAnn Schaefer, Central New York’s SPCA Humane Educator, said there are bigger benefits to adopting an older animal.
“I think what people should realize is that a senior animal has as much, if not more love, to give than a puppy or a kitten,” she said. “I really truly believe in my heart that they know that they have been saved. I truly believe that.”
Schaefer currently has five senior dogs and prefers adopting them over puppies. She said puppies and kittens are always happy, but they do not have an understanding that they are truly home after being adopted.
However, senior dogs and cats are often surrendered by families and understand what it meant to have a safe home. They have rough times in shelters and when seniors are adopted, Schaefer believes that they understand they are saved and feel relieved.
“They get on their bed or on their pillow, wherever you want them to sleep, and there is just that huge sigh of relief,” she said. “It’s like they know they’re home and that first night of sleep out of the shelter, its like you know you just want to stay up and watch it because it’s the first one they’ve had in a while.”
Older animals are often overlooked in shelters. According to Schaefer, a puppy or kitten could be posted on their website and have an adoption pending in 10 hours. But, older animals sometimes wait seven to nine months before someone shows an interest in adopting them.
She and her husband also adopt senior animals to give them a a familiar face that loves them during the ending stages of their lives.
“When a dog passes, when you have to make that decision they look for one face that they recognize,” she said. “It is my belief that no dog should leave this earth without a face that they recognize.”
Schaefer said health is a factor that people should consider when adopting senior dogs. Some of them have missing teeth, medical conditions, or are losing vision and flexibility. But, not every senior animal has health problems and some are equally as strong and energetic as younger ones.
“We just adopted out a 10-year-old lab into a family with children because she still had that much energy,” she said. “We adopted out a lab mix between 12 and 15-years-old and her owners take her hiking up to the Adirondacks, so it depends on the dog.”
Schaefer believes the right person is out there for every shelter animal. Senior dogs and cats come in every shape, size, and personality and there is always a senior animal to match your lifestyle.