Senior Pet Awareness Month

Older shelter pets need new homes

Ellory Moran and Maia Weissman

When it comes to adopting pets, the bitter truth of the matter is that older animals are usually the last to be chosen. Compared to the 60 percent adoption rate for younger dogs and puppies, senior dogs have an adoption rate of just 25 percent, according to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. 

Senior Pet Month, which takes place annually in November, is a month dedicated to bringing awareness to these often forgotten animals and helping them find new homes. One goal of Senior Pet Awareness Month is to bring attention to the age inequality of adoptions within shelters, Elana Shyman, Cause 4 Paws Club Sponsor, said. People looking to adopt from a shelter often opt for younger pets because they live longer and are generally more active, typically resulting in senior pets being unable to find a home, Shyman explained.

Hidden within many animal shelters is a gloomy reality for senior dogs, Hailey Brauneker, Staff Member at Wright-Way Rescue in Morton Grove, said.

“You can see [the senior dog’s] demeanor shut down [in many ways, such as] using the bathroom in their crate or not even eating,” Brauneker said. “Some of our long-term dogs don’t even come up to the door when people come by.”

Although it may seem like this is the only reality for the senior dogs, there are still many ways you can help them, senior Vivian Wang, President of Cause 4 Paws, said. 

“[Anyone] can volunteer at local shelters and specifically spend time with the senior dogs by taking them on extra walks and giving them more attention and love in the shelters,” Wang said.

Local shelters provide many opportunities for helping senior pets during Senior Pet Awareness Month, Shyman explained. Along with fostering, donating simple items like leashes, collars, toys, and beds, as well as supporting shelters financially, is a huge way to help promote a higher quality of life for senior pets, Harleigh Garcia, owner of Border Tails Rescue in Northbrook, said. Because medical care for senior pets puts more of a financial strain on shelters, donating money can be most beneficial to senior pets as well as shelters, Brauneker said. 

It may seem small, but even just promoting dogs on social media is an excellent way to network them, Brauneker said. Through Facebook, Border Tails Rescue has successfully found homes for many dogs who previously struggled to find a family, Garcia said. It is essential for all pets to get adopted,  Shyman emphasized. 

“The senior pets have spent a long time in shelters, so it’s important they live out their best days in a loving home with a family,” Shyman said.