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November 2nd, 2020 | By Alicia Silverstone

While the world is uncertain, the love of a companion animal is not. And thankfully, more people are taking time with their pets during the pandemic, while others are opening their homes for a new four-legged friend. After all, we know the love of a cat and dog is unconditional and there are many health benefits to caring for a furry friend. Something so important during this time of need.

So, where is the best place to get a companion animal? The shelter of course, or a local rescue group. If being a full-time pet parent isn’t conducive, fostering a pet is just as rewarding and guaranteed to save a life. Sadly though, seniors are often overlooked, as are black animals, and are typically the first to be euthanized.  There seems to be a pre-judgement when it comes to seniors…. they are untrainable, you won’t have them as long, or they come with issues.

Here’s the real truth – shelters, more often than not, accidently overage animals. Since examining the teeth is one of the best ways to determine an animal’s age, stray or uncared for animals are at a disadvantage. So, the 14-year-old dog that caught your eye at the shelter, could actually be only 8 years old.

There are a lot of benefits to adopting a senior pet… they come already trained (and if they don’t, you really can teach an old dog new tricks!). Seniors are also extremely grateful. They’ve had a tough life and all they want is to spend their remaining years being loved. With a good diet and lots of attention they can live longer than you might think (and having a young dog doesn’t necessarily guarantee you’ll have them any longer). And regards to having issues… well… who doesn’t!

My dog Murphy was a shelter dog with no chance. He was picked up by an animal control officer when he entered an LA county shelter. He was listed as a 13-year-old Pomeranian and was overlooked because of his age and color. The day he was scheduled to be euthanized the volunteer reached out to a local rescue group.

Luckily, Murphy was rescued in time. And he was not 13, he was approximately 9 years old. He was emaciated, covered in fleas, and was in such bad shape the shelter hadn’t neutered him. Now, at 18 years old with heart and kidney disease, and no teeth, he is proof that good things come in small packages.

Bottom line is this… pets are there for us unconditionally and can teach us a thing or two about compassion. It shouldn’t be based on your color, your age, or where you come from. A lesson we should all take to heart when dealing with each other, even among our four-legged friends.

Rachel Weil owns a boutique PR firm, Weil PR, in Los Angeles, and is a proud dog Mom.  She’s also the founder of Bailey Gives Back, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a unique mission: to help people who can’t afford medical care for their pets, to assist our rescue partners with financial assistance for their senior and special needs animals (wildlife, farm and companion animals), and to educate the public about behavior training, first aid preparedness and veterinary care. This keeps animals in their homes and out of the shelter. Fewer animals impounded means fewer animals killed each year.

Photo by Rob Wingate on Unsplash

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