Love is Ageless: Retailers Can Save At-Risk Senior Pets – Pet Age

As an animal rescue organization president, I have a soft spot in my heart for senior pets who come into our program. I imagine the fear, anxiety and sadness these animals must feel after being loyal family members and companions for many years, only to find themselves sitting in a cold steel cage in a shelter wondering when their family is coming back for them.   

There are many reasons senior pets end up in shelters and rescues. As pets age and health problems start to appear, many owners find themselves facing veterinary care for their pets that they cannot afford or aren’t willing to pay for. In my experience working in shelters and rescues, many senior pets find themselves being surrendered after a pet parent is hospitalized, has to move to assisted living or a nursing home, or their pet parent passes away. Family members are left to make decisions for pets. Many times, they can’t or won’t take the pets in, so they relinquish them to a local shelter. Unfortunately, once senior pets make it into shelters, their chances of adoption are significantly less than other pets. In fact, according to the ASPCA, senior dogs have only a 25 percent adoption rate as compared to the 60 percent adoption rate of younger dogs and puppies.  

Lisa Lunghofer, Ph.D., is the executive director of The Gray Muzzle Organization, a nonprofit organization that improves the lives of at-risk senior dogs by providing funding and resources to animal shelters, rescue organizations, sanctuaries and other non-profit groups nationwide. Being able to alleviate the concerns potential adopters may have about taking in a senior pet and supporting them in senior pet adoption can go a long way toward helping senior pets get a second chance at a forever home.  

Lunghofer said one of the concerns they hear a lot regarding senior pet adoption is that people fear losing a senior pet too soon. “The loss of a beloved animal companion at any age is heartbreaking. But many people who have adopted older dogs have gone on to enjoy several happy years together,” she said. “No one is more grateful than a senior dog who gets a second chance to love and be loved again. People who have adopted an older dog tell us they would …….


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