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Opinion: Making a Difference – One Pet at a Time


Hero, 7 months old. – Courtesy photo
Hero, 7 months old. – Courtesy photo


Not Good Enough?

By Darlene Papa, Lifeline for Pets

When people decide to adopt a dog or a cat, they usually have in mind to adopt what they think is their “perfect pet.” Almost always, people want a cute kitten or puppy, or a young adult. Some even want a particular breed, gender, or color. Rarely do they look for a senior pet and almost never do they ask for a special needs animal, even though both of these types often only need a special diet or just a bit extra attention.

Most no-kill shelters have both older and special needs animals. They wait and wait for their forever, loving homes, but they wait in vain.

Why is that? Afraid of dealing with a pet who may not last much longer? Unwilling to pay for increased medical bills? Frightened of having to monitor and accommodate the pet’s special condition? Embarrassed to be seen with a pet who is “not good enough?”

An older or special needs animal can offer just as much, if not more, love, loyalty, and companionship. Adopting a “less than perfect” pet can be extremely rewarding. It is a win-win decision that not only helps the animal, but is a family’s teachable moment about what it means to pay it forward. There are even shelter programs to put senior animals with senior adults and special needs pets with special needs children. How wonderful is that for, say, a deaf child to have a deaf pet! Not good enough?

Take the story of little kitten, Hero. When adorable tabby babies Hero and his sister, Echo, were rescued by Lifeline for Pets, they discovered that Hero’s two back legs were deformed. One was bent up and back, the other stuck out sideways. Consultation with the vet determined that no surgery needed to be done, if ever, because sweet Hero gets along just fine, and even uses the litter box quite well. He needs no meds.

Why, then, are Hero and Echo still not adopted? Likely because he “looks different” with his legs. Hero does not know this. He is smart, spunky, and moves around quickly and with confidence. As long as he has something to grip with his front paws he can pull himself up a cat tree! If only he and his sister could find a home that can overlook his handicap! They are both very lovable and totally deserve a forever home. Not good enough?

Adopting, loving, and caring for a dog or cat that is just a little “less than perfect” has wonderful rewards: according to Joyce Darrell and Michael Dickerson, founders of Pets With Disabilities, “Disabled animals show a special kind of devoted loyalty to their caregivers, so if you have room in home and in your heart, adopt a disabled animal. It just might be the best pet you will ever have.”

Not good enough?

Still uncertain about adopting a senior or a special needs animal? Please visit the link below to read a short article on “Adopting a Special Needs Dog,” which also applies to a special needs cat. The writer speaks of the unbelievable joy that a special needs animal brings to one’s life:

The article’s writer points out that just because a pet is older, or disabled, or has a health condition, does not mean they cannot give you love and devotion. In fact, they usually give even more! Not good enough?

Call a shelter. Ask about their seniors and special needs animals. Add just one of these beautiful souls to your family and see how huge your heart will open! You will need that big heart to store all the extra love and devotion and memories you will receive! That is “more than good enough!”

If anyone out there is willing and able to consider adopting Hero and Echo, now 7 months old, please call (626) 676-9505. There are pictures of both and a video on the website and at

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