The word “senior” can describe many things; someone who is close to graduation, a person that is eligible for AARP, a high-level corporate executive or, in the case of animals, an age at which finding a home can be nearly impossible. Animal shelters and rescue groups in Sacramento, and around the country, typically have a very hard time finding adopters for senior pets.
U.S. Census reports for 2014 showed that nearly 190,000 residents of Sacramento County were aged 65 and over. According to the World Health Organization, 65 is the age at which people are considered to be seniors. With animals, however, it is a bit harder to determine when senior status is achieved. The old adage that each year of a dog’s life is equal to 7 human years is inaccurate, due in part to the variety of breeds and sizes, and does not reflect when a shelter pet becomes one of the hard-to-adopt seniors.
The American Veterinary Medical Foundation reports that cats and small dogs are officially considered senior at age 7, with larger dog breeds hitting that mark at 5 or 6 years old. But even 3 or 4-year-old shelter animals are often ignored by potential adopters, who lean more towards bringing home a puppy or kitten. In reality, most adult animals will have already settled into their personality and temperament, so it is easier to see if they are the right pet for you. Younger animals may display behaviors that will change as they age; for example, that super-cuddly kitten or puppy may not want to be picked up or snuggled once it is older.
Essentially every shelter and rescue organization in the Sacramento region has older animals looking for homes; some senior pets end up living in a facility for years, which can lead to depression regardless of the quality of the shelter. Depressed animals tend to hide away and to stop grooming, which unfortunately makes it even more difficult for them to be noticed and adopted. But finding a permanent home with caring people can do them a world of good, and can ease away the depression.
Are you looking for a very sweet and loving dog? Meet Andrea, a beautiful senior German Shepherd mix, available for adoption from the nonprofit group Sacramento Independent Animal Rescuers. Or perhaps 13-year-old Chopper is more your style; the 10-pound Pomeranian can be adopted from Pom to the Rescue. Chopper is a puppy at heart, and loves to play, dance around and act silly. Yolo County Animal Services staff say that lovely Carolina will make a wonderful companion, as she loves people, is very affectionate, calm and loyal.
Rabbits can make wonderful house pets, and while they are not what people typically expect to find at a shelter or animal rescue, there are always bunnies in need of homes. For example, Teddy Bear is a soft, affectionate sweetheart who came to Sacramento House Rabbit Society after his owner passed away. His perfect home would be with someone who has another senior rabbit for him to play with, but he is open to other adopters as well. Horses are another type of animal that often need to be rescued, but that people don’t think will be found at a shelter. Check with All About Equine Animal Rescue if you would like to meet 13-year-old Banjo; he is sweet and social, but is not an appropriate match for a beginner.
Large cats can be especially cool, just ask the big, tuxedo-wearing fellow named Fearless. The folks at River City Cat Rescue say the 15-year-old loves to be held and petted, and gets along well with other cats and dogs. Blair, a beautiful senior tortoiseshell kitty, is up for adoption from Happy Tails. Like many other women, Blair prefers that her age and weight are never discussed in public. Affectionate and talkative senior cat Angel, currently residing at FieldHaven Feline Center, agrees with Blair wholeheartedly. While she has been described as “Rubenesque” and “voluptuous”, she thinks there is simply more of her to love.
If you would like to become a hero to any of these fine seniors, locate their photo on the accompanying slide show for contact information. There are many other animals ready to love you unconditionally and to always be happy you come home; check Petfinder.com to see adoptable animals, or visit rescues, shelters and adoption events in your area. Even if you do not want to adopt, rescue groups are always in need of donations and volunteers.