Appearance isn’t everything, and although the cuteness factor is usually what draws you in to begin with, it’ll be much more than looks that will determine if you and a pet are a good fit.
Pets with disabilities, chronic illness, or behavior issues are usually categorized as “special needs” or “handicap-able.” We’ve all see a dog with three legs and thought “OMG, that is one rock-star dog! Bless the humans who gave him a second chance!” Well luckily, there are plenty of pets that desperately need a second chance because they aren’t “perfect.”
Taking the time to meet these pets at the shelter or rescue should be part of your adoption process. You may be worried at first about what extra care or cost or care will be required, but meet these pets with an open heart and ask all the questions you want. For that matter, call your veterinarian and ask about the overall care and “what ifs” costs that you may find yourself in. Usually, the extra care required for a special needs pet is minimal when compared with the love you get back. And realize that even if you buy a pet from a breeder, it’s no guarantee that an underlying issue may present itself down the road.
Here are a few examples of special needs that handicap-able pets may have:
■ Chronic illnesses like diabetes, epilepsy, or allergies that require daily medication.
■ Hearing or vision impairment.
■ Neurological issues like cerebellar hypoplasia, hydrocephalus, or disc disease.
■ An amputation or missing limb, which may require a cart to help the pet get around.
■ A past that includes abuse, requiring a calm, patient home to help the pet recover and learn to trust again at their own pace.
If you are looking for a special needs pet to adopt but don’t know where to look, let me give you a few tips.
■ Go to your local shelter and ASK. Many special needs pets are held in the medical area in the back of the shelter. But, just because you can’t see them on the adoption floor doesn’t mean they can’t be adopted!
■ Seek out a special needs rescue. Petfinder and Adopt a Pet are excellent resources for searching in your area, allowing you to narrow your search for different types of animals, like special needs or senior pets.
■ Facebook is a wonderful resource for finding pets who need homes. Not only do shelters and rescues have Facebook pages, but also many communities have pages and groups dedicated to rehoming pets in need.
■ The thing is, all pets want the same things—a warm, comfy place to sleep, healthy food, enrichment, a home and human to protect, and—most importantly— a family to love and be loved by. Please consider adopting your next pet!