Adorable puppies have been treasured by animal lovers for years, leading to people adopting young pets that they may not be prepared to take care of. Meanwhile, many senior dogs remain in shelters throughout the Orange County area, continuously ignored because of their older age.

Older dogs often spend large portions of their lives waiting for the day an adopter gives them the opportunity to find a forever home. However, they are overlooked in favor of puppies that come with a lot of responsibilities.

Not only can dogs in these positions waste years of their lives, but this also puts animal rescues and shelters in a difficult position. They must care for these aging animals for long periods while also taking in other animals looking for homes.

California rescues and shelters take in the second most dogs in the country. Unfortunately, with these senior dogs getting lost in the mix, health issues often come along, increasing the chance that their short-term caretakers will have to euthanize these pets.

Research from the National Center for Biotechnology Information shows that the odds of animal adoptions are lower as their age rises. Studies have also concluded that senior pets have an increased chance of being returned after the pet’s adoption.

“We’ve had a few dogs for a year and a half to two years,” said Paige Lefever, Barks of Love Animal Rescue president in Orange County. “It usually is the senior dogs or the large breed dogs that take us longer to adopt.”

This stems from the idea that senior dogs are less appealing because they are older, which many see as less active, suffering from health issues, and are closer to death. However, there are plenty of other details to consider when deciding between a puppy and a senior dog.

Bruin is a 12-year-old Australian Cattle Dog and a member of the Webb family home.

Bruin is a 12-year-old Australian Cattle Dog and he is a member of the Webb family home. Photo credit: Jared Chavez

Fullerton citizens adopting an adult dog from some rescues or shelters can learn a lot about them before deciding to take them home. They can find info on the dog’s history, personality, health issues and much more. When it comes to puppies, much of this information is unpredictable at such a young age.

“I personally encourage people, especially those who don’t have a lot of dog experience, to adopt an adult or a senior dog because those dogs are usually the ones that are housebroken. They’re trained, they have all their medical, they don’t need a lot,” Lefever said. “Puppies need a lot of shots, they need a lot of vet visits, they need surgeries, they need to be neutered, they need training. We find that our adult senior dogs know basic obedience.”

Barks of Love, PetEmber, and OC Animal Care are all Orange County rescues and shelters that hold dog adoption meetings and events.

Barks of Love, PetEmber, and OC Animal Care are all Orange County rescues and shelters that hold dog adoption meetings and events. Photo credit: Jared Chavez

As dogs grow older, they mature and can become much calmer. This makes parenting more manageable and less time-consuming than caring for a puppy, which is also a deciding factor for students looking to adopt a pet.

Puppies in rescues and shelters will likely find a home, but it is often uncertain where these senior dogs will end up. To prevent senior dogs from spending the remainder of their lives in what was meant to be a temporary home, Fullerton residents must consider the adoption of these adult pets before young puppies that are in high demand.

Author profile

Jared Chavez (He/Him) is a journalism major from La Mirada, California. In his free time, he likes to listen to music and go to events.