Local rescue organizations hope to see Hatters open their hearts and homes to senior pets this month

·3 min read

November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month in Canada. Local rescue organizations hope this month can draw peoples’ attention to senior pets and also dispel myths about them.

“(Senior pets) very much get overlooked,” De Seaton, president of Southern Alberta Humane Society, told the News. She explained that younger pets – kittens and puppies – are often the first choice of people looking to adopt, largely due to the misconception that senior pets will not live very long.

“I think the hard part for a lot of people is just that they don’t want to set themselves up to feel that pain,” Kaylyn Major, general manager at Alberta Pound and Rescue Centres Medicine Hat, told the News. “but nothing’s really guaranteed.”

Seaton and Major explain that in many cases, senior pets can live long happy lives. Cats can live into their 20s, while dogs can live into the late teen years, depending on the breed and size.

“You have to be in the mindset where you know you’re just giving them the best last years of their life,” Major said.

Both Seaton and Major agree there are benefits to adopting a senior pet.

“If you want a calmer pet, (a senior) is usually your best choice,” Seaton said. “They make a wonderful companions.”

“They have their personality (and) you know what you’re getting,” said Major. “If you get a (younger pet), they’re going to grow and they’re going to change and they could turn into any kind of personality. With a senior, whatever they are now, that’s what you’re going to get.”

While she does encourage people to consider adopting seniors, she wants the public to be aware that they sometimes come with a higher cost.

“For any senior animal, (the ideal adopter) has to be someone who’s prepared to take on the cost of seniors. They do require a specialized senior food and then as they get older they will need more vet attention. They’ll have to have some check-ups. If they have preexisting conditions they need to have that (monitored) as well,” she said. “Not all cost a lot of money, but you need to be prepared for it.”

Despite the cost, she says adopting a senior pet is worth it.

“They’re amazing,” said Major. “I know it’s hard for people to adopt them because of the emotional attachment that you get to your animals – they’re part of the family obviously – but they need those last years to be spent somewhere loving and warm and with a family rather than out on the street or in a kennel here.”

Seaton explained that senior pets often find it difficult to adapt to the shelter. Some are strays and used to being outdoors, some are surrendered and can be fearful of the chance in environment after living in a home.

“It’s very hard for them. It’s hard on all animals to be in a shelter situation. They’ll go into what’s called ‘shelter decline.'” Seaton said. She explains that senior pets often cope better in a foster situation, but the ultimate goal is to find their forever home.

“This is their last chance for a home,” she said.

“They deserve it just as much as the young ones,” said Major. “They need that too.”

For more information about senior pets and adoptions, Hatters can contact APARC, SAHS or the Medicine Hat SPCA.

KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News

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