Adopting a Special Needs Pet

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We here at Last Chance Ranch Sanctuary are obviously big supporters of all animals, but we especially have a soft spot for our special needs friends. There was a conversation I overheard the other day at a shelter between a parent and her child regarding why they didn’t need to adopt a, “broken,” pet. I was a silent observer this situation, but the daughter was insistent on playing with this lovely, tail-wagging, one-eyed schnauzer. He was adorable, young and playful. In the daughter giving this little guy a chance, the family had the opportunity to see that just because there may be a problem doesn’t mean that the animal’s spirit is broken. Their capacity to love and adapt is endless. The short version of this story is that I ended up seeing them filling out adoption forms. It was undoubtedly a best case scenario.

Among the most common disabilities are blindness, deafness and missing limbs. If these pets are brought home as puppies or kittens, their clumsiness and eventual adaptability is not always immediately associated with blindness or deafness. There actually is not a large amount of accommodation that needs to be done for a blind pet as dogs and cats typically use their senses of smell, hearing and touch to get around. However, consistency is key in this situation so they know how to get to the items they need easily.

Their adaptability extends almost as well when deafness exists. Dogs and cats respond very well to visual cues and much like Beethoven (the composer, not the dog ☺), can also respond to and recognize vibrations.

Dogs and cats with missing limbs are some of the hardest to adopt out, but most are just as good as doing tasks as their four legged counterparts are. Most don’t even need special accommodation other than keeping them at a healthy weight and trimming their nails – something that should be done regularly anyway.

Of course, there are other disabilities that we aren’t covering here, but what we want to emphasize is that looks can be deceiving. Perhaps if you’re ready to open your home to a new family member, you might consider out one with special needs that might otherwise take 4-5x as long to adopt out. Of course, some animals will require a little more assistance than others, so make sure that you understand exactly what kind of needs your new friend will have before you take him home. Visit your local shelter and take a look.