5 “Less Adoptable” Pets Worth Adopting
When your family makes the move to adopt a new family member discussions arise. How big? What breed? Good with other dogs? Children? Exercise needs? Shedding? All are vital conversations to have so that you clearly understand what kind of pet will be the best fit for your home. However, because we often are looking for the perfect pet, that sometimes means the pets that aren’t perfect become less adoptable. Many, many wonderful animals are being overlooked because they don’t check every box right off the bat.
Perhaps when you visit your local shelter their paperwork might use the words, shy, sensitive, easily overstimulated or special needs or it might just be the way they look that doesn’t match up with what you had pictured. Many, many animals have a harder time getting adopted due to misconceptions held deeply within our culture. For example, black cats, pitbulls, and older pets spend significantly more time at the shelter before finding their forever home due to misunderstandings and preconceived notions among adopters. At Run Those Dogs we want to remind everyone that these “less adoptable” pets will love you just as strongly.
Middle-Aged and Senior Pets
Age is just a number and so many middle-aged and senior pets still have plenty of love left to give. These pets are often overlooked and considered less adoptable because they aren’t as cute as the whippersnapper in the neighboring kennel. Others fear increased medical bills. But the truth is there are strong benefits to adopting an older pet.
- They are calmer than puppies or kittens and often are potty-trained already. That can mean less damage to furniture or shoes and fewer negative odors in the home.
- Senior pets are less likely to get into trouble around the home because they might need less exercise than a younger pet. That also means they eat a little less and produce less waste in your back yard. More than anything, they’d most likely be less interested in exploring the neighborhood and more interested in wanting to be near you!
- Think about their life span as well. Even if you adopt a cat who is eight, that could mean that you could have more than twelve years of love and companionship together.
- When you adopt an older pet, you’re much more likely to know and understand its personality when you adopt it. It’s personality has already grown and evolved, while adopting a puppy or kitten may feel a little like a crap shoot. You’re not sure what you’ll get.
- Don’t be fooled by the saying, “An old dog can’t learn new tricks.” Older animals may be more set in their ways, but when they come to your home for the first time, you’re building a foundation together and that includes helping them understand the rules of the home and expected behavior. Some obedience trainers offer classes specifically for older pets while others are willing to do one-on-one training in your home. The up side is that an older pet may be calmer and more ready to learn that a wilder, less mature kitten or puppy. And because they’ve had a few years under their belt, they may be more food motivated and more easily trained than younger, more easily distracted youngers.
You probably grew up hearing the superstitions about black cats. That history has made them less adoptable. Most of Europe considers the black cat a symbol of bad luck. In particular, if one walks across the path in front of a person, it is believed to be an omen of misfortune and death. In Germany, some believe that black cats crossing a person’s path from right to left, is a bad omen. As a result, black cats of all ages, sizes, and breeds are often not adopted simply because of the color of their fur. Historically black cats were associated with witches. But black cats are not any more spooky or devious than other cats contrary to popular superstition.
But did you know that black cats also have just as much or more of a history of being good luck in other cultures? In Scotland, a black cat appearing on your doorstep is a sign of prosperity. Those in England’s Midlands think presenting a black cat as a wedding present brings good luck to the bride. Friends in the south of France refer to black cats as ‘matagots’ or ‘magician cats’ and according to local superstition, feeding and treating them well will bring good luck to the owner. In Northern Europe it is believed that taking in and caring for a black cat can ensure fair weather and safe passage during voyages on the sea. Owning a black cat is considered lucky in parts of Asia. In Italy, if you hear a black cat sneeze, you are in for a streak of good luck. And in Japan, black cats are a symbol of good luck. If they see a black cat crossing their path, they say ‘Konichiwa’ and take control of their own luck.
Although we will admit that black cats are better at playing hide-and-seek at night than other cats, they make wonderful companions just as well as cats of other colors. So the next time you’re choosing a new cat family member, make sure your choice isn’t being subconsciously influenced by stereotypes and superstition.
Pitbulls & Related Breeds
Perhaps more than any other breed of dog, pitbulls have received a bad reputation. We’ve discussed pitbulls before in a past blog about how stereotypes have been unjustly applied to the entire breed at a real cost to the dogs themselves and their families. That makes them less adoptable, spending more time in the shelter environment than dogs of other breeds.
As with any dog or animal you don’t know, use caution and avoid making them feel unsafe or uncomfortable. And with all breeds, socialization and training are important to teach a dog how to safely interact with children and adults. But pitbulls are like any other dog. They can be among the biggest lovers. Be sure to read our blog about the misconceptions about pitbulls and open your mind when considering which breed mixes will work for your home and family.
They are just victims of human breeding programs. Being bred to look tough and muscular doesn’t mean that there isn’t a sweet love bug inside that bulky body and broad jaw. Because of that breeding, they can make excellent athletes. You might enjoy a parkour, Frisbee or agility class together. They can be just as goofy and lovable as any other dog if we let them. But it takes effort by each of us through proper socialization and positive language to shift cultural understanding.
Bunnies, Reptiles, and other Pocket Pets
Shelters help find homes for more than just cats and dogs. Most people forget that most shelters also find forever homes for bunnies, hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, rats, chinchillas, birds and reptiles, plus so many other little critters that we haven’t even thought of. Often, the purchase price is also much less than a pet store. For many, these pets are a better fit than a cat or dog. That’s because they take up less space, sometimes require less care and can be less destructive in the home and yard. They also make an excellent place to start if you’ve never owned a pet before.
Did you know that some rabbits can be litter-box trained? Smaller animals are often also a great way to help teach younger children responsibility when they are not ready for the amount of work needed to care for a new puppy.
No matter what kind of pet you choose, be sure to educate yourself and all family members before getting a new pet. You don’t want to be surprised about the needs of your new pet.
For example, some pets have special dietary, vitamin or other requirements. Chinchilllas need access to regular dust baths. Reptiles need special light and dietary requirements. Some birds can only be housed with the same (or opposite) sex or they will pluck each other’s feathers out. Some birds need their feathers clipped regularly to live in a cage. These are just a few examples of why your family should carefully research the needs of a pet before bringing one home.
Luckily, most shelters have a wealth of information to share. Public libraries often carry books specific to the subject. And local groups like 4-H are available to help you learn how to properly care for these pets.
Remember to think outside the box the next time you plan to adopt a family pet. Consider these less adoptable pocket pets for your family.
It can be a little daunting to think about the work required to adopt, train and care for a new pet. And even more so if the shelter paperwork mentions the need for a special diet, medication or more. But any special-needs pet parent will tell you that their furry friends often take on life’s challenges with a wagging tail! Specially-abled pets could include pets who have paralysis, missing limbs, blindness, deafness and other disabilities. Whether due to disease, birth defects or injuries, these pet’s disabilities do not make them any less capable of showing love and living a fulfilling life.
The next time you’re in the market for a new member of the family, consider whether you could be the right fit for a specially-abled pet. Not sure? Read more in our previous blog, The Love of Specially-Abled Pets. Although not recommended for those who have never owned a pet before, pets with needs and/or disabilities are just as ready to love you. Many don’t see themselves as disabled. They are ready to love and to be loved.
At the end of the day, we hope you don’t let a pet’s breed, color, age, or ability stop you from really considering giving a less adoptable pet a forever home. Every pet has love to give and all it takes is time, patience and education. With time you’ll get to know each other and understand what is needed. Once that happens, the love will never stop flowing.