• Barry KuKes

Talking About Pets: Older animals deserve loving homes, too

Many shelters and rescues, including Halifax Humane Society, admit senior dogs regularly. Sometimes, the old dog is surrendered by an owner who can no longer care for the dog or would like to get a younger dog. People have brought their older dog to us requesting us to euthanize the dog, not because the dog was ill but because they did not want the dog any longer. The owner will sign an approval form for the euthanasia procedure and be on their way. Just because the owner signed the paper doesn't mean we will euthanize a healthy and loving animal. We will try to find a home for the surrendered animal, and with the help of our supporters, we usually do.

Some potential adopters shy away from senior dogs for a variety of reasons. One, they are worried about possible medical issues that can be costly, and they cannot afford. Two, they want a dog or cat that will be around longer than a couple of years. I understand both of these concerns, but I'm afraid I have to disagree with the logic. If you adopt a younger dog, what happens 10 years down the road when your best friend is no longer a younger dog? Do you become one of the people mentioned that surrenders the dog for a newer, younger model? Dog and cats aren't objects like a car or designer purse. They are living, breathing creatures that depend on humans for care, food, shelter and love. How some people can discard a pet that has been by their side through thick and thin is beyond me.

As to wanting a pet that will be around longer than a couple of years, you have no idea how long a pet will live unless you have a direct line to God. I had a dog named Quincy that died when he was 4 years old due to cancer. I have friends who have adopted 10-year-old cats that are still alive and well at the ripe old age of 20. The point is, it's not the amount of time you spend; it's the quality of that time.

If you are an animal lover and recognize that older animals also need a loving home, consider adding an older animal in need of a loving family to live out their lives happily. I have personally adopted older dogs to join our family, and they have always been a blessing. Especially if you do not have a pet, a senior pet may be perfect for your family.

If you have a senior pet, please don't abandon them at the shelter or, worse, out on the street. It breaks my heart when I see videos of people pulling into an open field and letting their dog out, only to drive off as the poor pup chases after the truck. You can almost hear the dog pleading, "Wait, please don't leave me!" If you must surrender your pet, please surrender to the local shelter and give them a chance for a new home. Lastly, adopt, don’t shop.

Barry KuKes is the community outreach director at Halifax Humane Society. He recently published a collection of his columns titled "Why do People Have Pets?" which is available at amzn.to/2RWr2d4

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