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Adopting a special needs pet

Special needs pets are often mislabeled as troublesome and therefore overlooked in shelters. Here are four reasons why adopting a special needs pet can be a rewarding experience.

Adopting a special needs pet

Is a sad reality of the animal shelter system—but older animals and pets with special needs are often last to be adopted, if they are adopted at all, and as a result many are euthanized. Yet in many ways, these unique pets are actually a treasure waiting to be discovered.

Here are four reasons for making a special needs animal part of your family.

1. Special needs is a term that means something different for each animal.

Every pet, like every person, is an individual, and each has needs specific to itself. People often hesitate to adopt a special needs animal because they already have a specific idea of what they believe special needs means. Some believe it means a life of costly medical procedures, while others foresee the struggles of having a pet with behavioral issues requiring time-consuming training. The fact is, no one truly knows an animal’s day-to day needs until that animal is a part of his or her day-to-day life. Senior and injured animals frequently require little or no more care than their healthy counterparts, and can provide years of love and joy to their adoptive families.

2. Special needs pets often return the love they’re given tenfold.

It’s been said that a rescued pet knows it’s been saved from a terrible fate. And without debating the scientific validity of that statement, special needs pets have shown themselves to be among the most affectionate and well bonded to their adoptive families. And while caring for a special needs pet may require some extra patience and compassion, those gifts will be rewarded many times over by the unconditional love you receive in return.

3. Adopting a special needs pet eases the burden on shelters.

Animal shelters in the US frequently find their resources taxed to the limit, and overcrowded shelters are more likely to euthanize pets they are unable to place in forever homes. Adopting a less adoptable pet not only saves that animal, it lessens the financial load on shelters and frees cage space for animals that might be more readily adopted.

4. A special needs pet will teach you life lessons.

Have you ever approached a situation and thought, “I can’t do this,” but made it work anyway? In most cases, hindsight shows us that these are the experiences that teach us the most about ourselves, our capabilities, and our capacity for love and compassion. The experience of adopting a special needs pet has much to teach us about endurance, perseverance, and the power of kindness and compassion to overcome physical setbacks.

If you’re thinking about adopting a pet, we hope you’ll consider making a special needs animal a part of your family.


Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.

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