By Phil Snyder, Executive Director of Suncoast Humane Society
Published in the Englewood Sun on March 1, 2015
It wasn't very long ago that finding a good home for a dog or cat older than 5 was a real challenge for humane societies, animal control agencies, and rescue groups. Tragically, due to pet overpopulation and the endless numbers of puppies and kittens surrendered to animal shelters, many older pets were not even made available for adoption.
We still suffer from the problems of pet overpopulation; however, some things have greatly improved. This includes the adoption of "seniors" at some animal care centers and shelters. Everyone loves a puppy or kitten, and they certainly attract attention because of their cuteness. However animal-care personnel will be the first to tell you that cuteness aside, the youngsters will require a whole lot of time and often money.
They will often require constant manners training and socialization during their upbringing, long-term housebreaking (especially puppies), medical care and preventive vaccinations. And sometimes a puppy or kitten does not grow up to be the exact fit we had hoped for.
When adopting a senior pet, what you see if what you get. That older pet you bond with will come with the size, personality and grooming requirements you prefer, and those traits will stay with them. Often they settle in quickly and already have learned what it takes to get along with others. They automatically become part of the family pack. Your floors, shoes and furniture may be better off with an older pet - not only fewer tears and teeth marks to remind you of the teething youngster you put up with.
So far this year, 10 senior pets, all older than 8, have been adopted from the Suncoast Humane Society. These pets who were given a second chance at life include Sonny (10), Dude (10), Misty (13), Baby Girl (14), and two named Bear (both 10).
Often a two-legged retiree will fall in love with a four-legged retiree in our adoption center. Perhaps they are both past wanting a high-energy companion that could run them ragged, not that older pets don't require exercise. They do, but then, so do you. They won't, however, expect to run a marathon every day.
The best reason for adopting a senior pet may be that you will feel the rewards every day you spend together. They give love back. Our adoption staff receives many cards and emails from new adoptive parents of senior pets describing their love and devotion.
Older pets are often the last to be adopted at animal shelters. So how about saving a life and becoming a hero? It is definitely an unparalleled emotional return for your investment.