Are you dying to have a dog but are not sure you have enough time to take care of him? Do you live in a small apartment that does not have a yard? Or are you still living with your parents and you know your mom will yell at you if there is suddenly dog pee and poop all over the house?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions let me tell you that owning a dog is still definitely possible! Trust me, I learned this the hard way by getting a puppy and then having to give him back with tears down my cheeks. Later I volunteered at an animal rescue and fell in love with an older dog and adopted him. Best decision of my life! I had always gotten puppies when I was younger so I believed that was the way to go, however, I clearly was oblivious to the responsibility of having a puppy in an apartment or in general. My older dog was easier to potty-train, he did not chew my furniture, and I also did not feel as bad leaving him alone while I went to work. In addition, he was not a heavy monetary investment since his adoption price came with all his shots included as well as microchip.
Furthermore, after working three years at BARC Animal Shelter & Adoptions in Houston, Texas, I sadly saw so many senior dogs being abandoned by their owners. The age of seniors is classified differently among shelters, however, two of the largest shelters in Houston unfortunately deal with the abandonment of older dogs on a daily basis. Similarly, Harris County Animal Shelter has taken in 58 senior animals (age 8 years old and up) and held a total of 447 elders in 2018. Yes, these numbers are real and just heartbreaking. Danielle Macicek, Shelter Operations Administrator from Harris County Animal Shelter explained to me that very young animals as well as the very old are the most vulnerable at a Shelter. Ms. Macicek says that older pets are overlooked but that they can still make wonderful and loyal pets, deserving a loving home. Many shelters actually reduce the adoption fee of elderly pets in order to increase their chance of getting a new home. Thus, Harris County Animal Shelter offers a lower price on all dogs and cats over 5 years of age throughout the year.
From experience, it was challenging to find rescue for older animals but many rescue organizations did step up, however, due to these staggering numbers their help is not enough. YOU, adopters, are the silver lining in this lamentable reality that shelters are facing every day. So, in my continuing attempts to save more lives, here are some reasons why I want you to consider adopting an older or senior dog before getting a puppy:
And most importantly, senior pets still have a lot of love to give, tail wagging time, and a unique lust for life! It may take these sweeties a week or more to settle in with you because they have been with another family for so long, but I promise your patience and love will be rewarded as they will be so grateful for the second chance at life you just gave them.