10 Reasons to Adopt a Less-Adoptable Pet

Dog in shelter

Getty Images / Dan Brandenburg

Every third week in September, shelters, rescues, and veterinary clinics raise awareness during Adopt a Less-Adoptable Pet Week. It's an opportunity to recognize that even though certain pets are deemed “less-adoptable” because of their age, looks, or other factors, they deserve a loving home just as much as any other pet.

Petfinder.com classifies animals who spend 48 weeks or more on their website as “less adoptable.” The average amount of time pets spend on the website before they are adopted is 12.5 weeks. 

Less-adoptable pets have been overlooked by potential adopters time and time again, so if you’re thinking about adding a new pet to your family, here are 10 reasons you should adopt a “less-adoptable” pet:

  • 01 of 10

    They’ve Probably Spent More Time in the Shelter

    Shelters aren’t designed to permanently lodge animals. While rescue organizations have great staff and volunteers who care for the pets who come through their doors, they can’t compare to the individualized love and care of a permanent home. Most pets who are deemed less adoptable have spent a longer-than-average amount of time at the shelter. You can be the one to show them what a permanent, comfortable home and family is like. 

  • 02 of 10

    Less Adoptable Pets Love as Much as Puppies or Purebreds

    Puppies and purebreds often get adopted quickly, but when it comes to giving and receiving love, they’re no different from less-adoptable pets. Most pets, especially those that are taken home from a shelter, are eager to spend time playing, cuddling, and warming up to their new family—and a less-adoptable pet might have even more love to give after spending a longer period of time in a shelter.

  • 03 of 10

    It’s What’s on the Inside That Counts

    One of the reasons a pet might be less adoptable is their looks. Black dogs and cats tend to be overlooked, as well as pit bulls and other breeds stereotyped as “aggressive.” It’s important to get to know the individual dog or cat for their personality, not their looks or breed reputation. You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

  • 04 of 10

    They Need a Loving Home After a Difficult Past

    The physical, behavioral, or medical reasons that a pet hasn’t been adopted yet may be a result of a traumatic or difficult past. These pets are the ones who need safe, loving homes the most!

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Shelter Overcrowding Is a Big Problem

    Shelters only have so much space, and when less-adoptable dogs and cats stick around for a while, they take up some of that space. Shelter overcrowding and limited space reduces the number of animals a shelter can take in, which can impact the lives of other animals in need.

  • 06 of 10

    You Can Learn About a New Breed

    Taking home a pet that's been overlooked is an opportunity to learn about a new breed. Different breeds have different instincts—like herding, pointing, or swimming—that can be fun to experience. You may end up with a dog who is more affectionate, active, or athletic than you’re used to. You also may get an opportunity to form your own opinion about a breed that has been unfairly stereotyped. It can be interesting to learn about mixed breed pets as well—you can even do a dog DNA test to see what characteristics of their ancestry they display. 

  • 07 of 10

    Your Family or Lifestyle Might Be a Good Fit

    Less-adoptable pets sometimes have behavioral or medical needs that require special attention, but if your lifestyle or family allows you to fulfill those needs, you could be the perfect home. Maybe you live alone and are well-suited to take home a dog or cat who doesn’t do well with other people or animals. Maybe you have a big family who is ready to share responsibilities taking care of a high-energy or needy dog. Maybe you’re an empty nester with the space to welcome a bonded pair. Certain circumstances may make your home the perfect fit for a less-adoptable pet with special needs.

  • 08 of 10

    Adoption Fees Might Be Waived

    Sometimes shelters waive the adoption fees for less-adoptable pets to appeal to potential adopters. Compared to the prices at some breeders, it’s not a bad selling point!

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  • 09 of 10

    The Pet Might Already Have Some Training

    Everyone knows how hard it is to potty train a puppy or teach them to walk on a leash or obey cues. Less-adoptable pets are often older, meaning they may already be house trained or have some obedience training.

  • 10 of 10

    Adopting Is Simply Great

    It may be tempting to go to a breeder for the exact kind of dog or cat you want, but adopting has many, many benefits. You’ll provide a home for a pet in need, you’ll spend less money, and you’ll do your part to stop commercial breeding. You may even save more than one life because adopting from a shelter or rescue organization opens up space for the shelter to rescue another animal. 

If you’re in the market for a new furry friend, be sure to think about adopting a pet that’s been deemed less than perfect. They might just end up being the perfect companion for you.