Older & Wiser: Adopting An Older Pet
No matter who you are, I believe we can all find common ground in one fact; Puppies and kittens are adorable. Their tiny, pink noses, fluffy feet and pure nature are enough to spark joy in just about anyone. Maybe that’s why we can barely get puppies and kittens on the adoption floor before they have already been adopted. Don’t get me wrong - this is awesome! Every single animal deserves a loving home, including older animals.
It is often thought that senior animals (over the age of five) come with a lot of “baggage.” After all, why did they end up in a shelter if they were an ideal companion? The reasons vary, but are hardly ever directly related to the animal’s behavior. The most common reasons for an older animal to be up for adoption include: Death of an owner; new baby; new job or loss of job; moving; allergies; or, various other life changes.
Of course, there are circumstances in which an older animal was surrendered as a result of not getting along with another animal or human, but these situations are usually a result of another issue. No matter the reason, if an animal is placed on our adoption floor, they have been evaluated and cleared as ‘adoptable.’ And each of these ‘adoptable’ animals has a special home out there that they’re patiently waiting for. Maybe you’re that home!
Our hope is that all of our adopters keep their hearts open to the possibility of adopting a senior pet, because we know how amazing they are. Here are just a few reasons adopting an older pet could be the best decision for you:
Older Pets Are (Usually) Already Trained
Forget potty training and behavior classes, senior pets already know their basic commands. “Come,” “sit,” “stay,” and “down,” are basic commands that most pet owners hope to teach their canines. Many times, adopters can avoid the time, money and energy needed to train these behaviors by adopting an older pet that already knows their commands. If you do need to “teach an old dog new tricks,” they have a better attention span, making them easier to train than puppies.
Adopting a cat? Consider an adult cat and you won’t have to worry about litter box training.
Older Pets Are Chill
Sure, that clumsy, playful kitten and puppy phase is adorable for a while, but it’s usually combined with destructive behaviors like scratching or chewing. Adult animals are past their adolescent stage and are happy to just spend the day next to you, without causing damage to your home.
Older Pets Are Authentic
When meeting a puppy or kitten, you never know what type of personality they will have when they get older. Sometimes, this is what results in them being brought back or surrendered to a shelter. With an adult animal, what you see is what you get and you can instantly feel out how they will be in your home. Of course, there are exceptions to this: If you meet a high energy dog in a shelter, it is likely they will calm down once they are settled into a home.
Older Pets Are Grateful
There really is a different feeling of gratitude when you adopt a senior pet. Puppies and kittens are less aware of their time in a shelter and are happy to get love from just about anyone. An older pet is truly thankful for their human and will be loyal in return for the rest of their days.
Older Pets are Independent
If you are a first-time adopter, an older pet may be the right choice for you! Of course, all animals require time, care, money and attention, but for someone who is not as familiar with the commitment of pet ownership, adult animals are more independent and may require less time and money than younger pets.
Young, old, big and small, all of our homeless animals deserve the best possible home. If you are interested in adopting, please consider an adult pet if it is right for you. Our staff at the SPCA Albrecht Center is dedicated to finding our adopters the animal that best fits into your life. Ask to do a meet-and-greet with one of our amazing, older animals and we’re sure you’ll see that they deserve your love too.
Claire Grimes is the SPCA Albrecht Center’s Development Director. She is an Aiken native, but spent some college years in Charleston, interning with Charleston Animal Society. She is excited to be working in animal welfare in her hometown and is proud of the community efforts to better the lives of Aiken’s animals. Her family includes her husband, Logan, a SPCA adopted black lab, Ozzy, a SPCA adopted Siamese mix, Luna, and Claire’s first love, Anakin, a 17-pound rescued Maine Coon mix.