Picture this: It’s cold and snowy outside, so you fix yourself a steaming cup of hot chocolate, grab a book, get cozy on the couch with a nice, warm cat or dog snuggled up next to you. More specifically, a older cat or dog; one contentedly sitting with you, relishing every pat, scratch and belly rub you’re willing to dish out. Well, it is getting cold outside, and local animal shelters have plenty of senior pets, patiently waiting for this “purrfect” scenario.
“Adopting an adult pet has many benefits,” says Pamela Green, Executive Director of Kent Animal Shelter in Calverton. “Senior pets are less destructive, so you probably won’t find your favorite pair of shoes in pieces or a rubber toy lodged in their intestines.” So you can run a couple errands and not worry that your new pooch is home eating your new couch.
This generally makes senior pets a more desirable option for anyone with a busy schedule. “Older animals are usually trained, housebroken and have a lower activity level,” says Jamie Berger of the Animal Rescue Fund (ARF) in Wainscott, where about 15 senior animals are currently waiting for adoption. This lower energy level also makes senior pets—any cat or dog over the age of 8—the perfect option for senior humans. Jerry Rosenthal, Executive Director of Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation (SASF) in Hampton Bays adds: “With an older animal, you know what kind of behavior to expect and their more settled nature may be a better match” for certain lifestyles.
Yet people still tend to resist senior animals. “Misconceptions often put older animals at a disadvantage,” says Kate McEntee, also of SASF. Green points out that, despite the old adage, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” senior animals are, in fact, trainable. “Their attention span is much better,” she says. “If you adopt a dog thAll Postsat was housebroken, but may have been in a kennel for a while, re-training is easily attained in a day or two with a regular schedule.”
A lot of adopters visit shelters looking to replace a pet who has recently passed away, and so tend to overlook senior pets because the thought of losing another animal is too much to bear. “Just the thought of an older animal worries them,” Berger says, “because they are still in mourning and are also worried about medical issues.”
But don’t worry. There’s nothing “wrong” with senior pets who end up in shelters. “Most senior animals become homeless through no fault of their own,” McEntee explains. “The most common reason for an owner surrendering their pet to us is [their owners] moving.” So adopters needn’t concern themselves with issues of health and life expectancy. McEntee continues: “With advances in veterinary medicine, many older pets have plenty of healthy and playful years ahead.” And the SASF is willing to put its money where its mouth is. Adopt a senior pet in January and receive free wellness visits for the life of the animal at their in-house wellness clinic.
Even if you can’t adopt, you can still help. The Southampton Animal Shelter has over 100 cats—half of whom are seniors—and more than 60 dogs at their facility! All these guys and gals need to be tended to, fed, walked and played with. Go donate a couple dollars or volunteer some time and get to know some of these cuddly critters. You’ll be the better for it, and, who knows, one might just end up at the foot of your bed, retired in their new “furever” Hamptons home. Isn’t that the dream, after all?