By Phillip Snyder, Executive Director
Published in the Gasparilla Gazette on July 2, 2013
"Do you have any puppies or kittens?" This is a question often asked of our adoption staff at Suncoast Humane Society, from people seeking to adopt a pet. The same question is echoed at most other animal shelters and adoption agencies.
Granted, puppies and kittens are adorable, but we ask you to stop and think a moment. These same cute little creatures may also be chewers, yippers, howlers, clawers and yes, even house "pottiers" until properly trained. If you have a lot of luck, these bad habits may be completely avoided, or dealt with in a timely manner. Chances are though some will take a lot of time and a bunch of effort.
We know it can be very difficult to say no to the pleading eyes and playful antics of these young bundles of fluff and fur. These magnetic features are the reasons some people ignore the many wonderful adult canines and felines available for adoption. This is sad, because there are so many advantages to adopting an adult or even a senior dog or cat.
For example, with many adult dogs and cats, what you see is what you get. You are already looking at the size, personality, temperament and grooming requirements that you will be facing. Often, mature pets settle in quickly, are already house or litter box trained, and, because of longer attention spans, quicker to learn good manners. If you are not into surprises, an older pet is for you.
An important factor to note is that many adult and senior animals were made homeless by circumstance. They were surrendered to the shelter by loving owners and families who became unable to provide necessary care. In some cases the pet may have lost its original companion. With older dogs and cats, bad habits normally associated with younger animals are long gone. All they have left to give some lucky family is love and devotion.
Mature and senior pets make great adoption choices for mature and senior people. They also work well for families with limited time for active play and less enthusiasm to work their way through puppy and kitten stage.
Older dogs and cats are often the slowest or last to be adopted at animal shelters. Some humane societies are using well thought-out marketing strategies such as displaying adult dogs in the front of the adoption areas and placing the younger ones in the back. The theory is that some of you will fall in love with an older pet before you reach the puppies. Suncoast Humane Society features a free roaming cattery that presents a homey environment. Many of the adult cats can be seen in or on kitty condos, pillows, shelving and counters.
We hear frequently from previous adopters that have given an older pet a special forever home how rewarding it has been for them. It is a wonderful experience to feel you have enriched or even saved the life of an older pet. The experience creates a special bond that cannot be topped. How about you? Won't you consider adopting an older pet?