How to champion less adoptable pets

Pets that are considered by society as “less adoptable” are just as loving, sweet, and kind as all the other pets. However, they aren’t blessed with the natural poster child adoptability as the other pets in the shelter.

Many people probably don’t realise that certain types of pets have a harder time finding their furever home. That’s why Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week is so important.

Adopt A Less Adoptable Pet Week begins in the third full week of September. In 2023, we observe it from September 18th to September 24th. During that time, we spread the word and encourage adopters to give these pets a chance.

Humans have had a special relationship with animals for as long as we have been around. The earliest humans successfully domesticated certain animals, and since then we have shared our homes (and hearts) with them.

Pets have become our friends, some pets have achieved stardom, and all of them have been immensely loved by their human families. Pets have been known to uplift our mood, sense when we are sad, and be our companions in our darkest hours. So what makes some of them “less adoptable”?

Here are some examples of pets who are considered “less adoptable”.

Black dogs and black cats: There are several theories behind the phenomenon that is Black Dog Syndrome (which also applies to cats). states that Black Dog Syndrome could be due to the following factors; the size of the dog, dimly lit kennels, unclear facial features, and negative portrayals of black pets in books and media.

No matter what theory you subscribe to, research supports that black dogs and cats have a difficult time getting adopted. Therefore, this is the week to go down to the shelter and add a black dog or cat to your family!

Senior pets: Senior pets may not be able to give you the same number of years that other pets can, but they can give you some of the best years of your life.

Senior pets are already house trained and have an attainable level of energy. If you are someone who likes to do the following things: take a nap, go for a leisurely walk, sleep-in, cuddle, hang-out, or watch a movie, then a senior pet is right for you.

Special needs pets: Special needs pets could come in many different sizes or shapes. The term special needs may sound intimidating to some potential pet parents, but the needs aren’t always what they seem. For example, a cat with one eye is considered special needs.

However, her needs are pretty simple, she has just had some challenges in her life, but her quality of life is still great! In some cases, a special needs pet may require an experienced pet owner, so if you fit the criteria, you could provide an excellent home for a loving pet.

Certain Breeds: Certain breeds of cats and dogs are considered “less adoptable” for the way they look or behave.

What can you do to improve the likelihood that these pets will get a home?

  • Share their photos on social media. Social media has helped many pets find their forever homes in recent years. Use your online social presence to bring awareness to the adoptability of black dogs and cats, senior pets, and special needs pets.

  • Educate your friends and family. Knowledge is power, so share it! Tell people about black dog syndrome and the benefits of having a senior or special needs pet by your side!

  • Share your story! If you have shared your life with a black pet, a special needs pet or a senior pet, share your story. Sharing positive stories can help change the stigma associated with these categories of pets. My hope is that 10-20 years from now these categories are no longer considered “less adoptable”.

  • Spread the word of social media! Something as small as sharing a photo of a less adoptable pup can make a huge difference in the time it takes for them to be adopted. Lots of shelters and rescue centres have Facebook pages with photos and details descriptions of available, amazing dogs. Even if someone in your immediate social circle isn’t interests, they may see your post and think of someone who is. Spreading the word can save a dog’s life!

  • Donate to local shelters and rescues. Donations don’t always have to be money, gently used blankets, dog toys and time are great ways to show less adoptable dogs that you care. Again, shelter and rescue workers have long, often donated hours. If you can free up some of their time by providing necessities to their dogs, they will be able to work more effectively at re-homing less adoptable pets. 

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