Don’t Judge an Animal by Its Age

November 28, 2016

senior pets

By Matt Bershadker, ASPCA CEO

Cannoli is a very friendly gray and orange shelter cat who loves pats on her head and back, and being the center of attention. Her extra toe on each paw only adds to her charm. In fact, nothing about Cannoli would stand in the way of her adoption into any loving family, except one fact.

Cannoli is 12 years old.

Older animals like Cannoli are in greater danger because senior shelter animals are typically the last to be adopted, if they’re adopted at all. Every shelter has older dogs or cats in their care, but stereotypes and misperceptions often keep them from being fairly considered. This is why November is “Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month” —a nationwide effort to spur more life-saving adoptions for animals who need them most.

The good news for Cannoli is that, only weeks ago, she was adopted from our ASPCA Adoption Center here in New York City. If you’re local, we’ve still got Fluffa, 6; Jacob, 7; and others. Meanwhile, Animal Care Centers of NYC, which takes in homeless pets throughout the city, is home to senior dogs including  Princess, 11; Spain, 6; and Cindy, 7.

The truth is, while puppies and kittens are often more desirable in our society, older shelter animals can be just as loving, loyal, and delightful. And a senior pet can come with many advantages, including being house-trained, used to general home activity, accustomed to living with other pets, and less in need of constant supervision.

Adult animals also have well-formed personalities, unlike puppies and kittens, whose personalities may change as they grow up. At the same time, senior pets are amazingly adaptive and can continue to learn new skills.

Knowing your compatibility with a potential pet shouldn’t require guesswork or rely on brief impressions. Your local shelter or rescue group is very familiar with its animals, and in the best position to make the best match. So, whether you’re looking for a dog or a cat, be sure to ask lots of questions, and go in with an open mind as well as an open heart. The perfect pet for you and your family may be depending on it.