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Adopt A Less Adoptable Pet Week: When Is It & How To Celebrate

Written by: Ashley Bates

Last Updated on February 29, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

woman adopting a cat

Adopt A Less Adoptable Pet Week: When Is It & How To Celebrate

Animal shelters are overrun. Backyard breeding is at an all-time high. Some people fail to fix their pets, others abandon them, and some animals never have a proper home to begin with. What we have done to animals is pitiful—and they are certainly the ones that pay for our mistakes.

Many animals that would make the best pets are often in shelters way too long. Some might be in a shelter for up to 2 years while less fortunate pets are thrown into kill shelters where they are euthanized within days of arrival. So, Adopt a Less-Adoptable Pet Week is an attempt to raise awareness and place less desirable animals into forever homes.

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What Is Adopt a Less-Adoptable Pet Week?

In 2009, PetFinder came up with a genius idea—spreading awareness about the less-adoptable pets littering shelters nationwide. This week is supposed to directly educate people on how to choose a pet that might not be on their list of pets to choose from.

Adopt a Less-Adoptable Pet Week is celebrated annually between the 21st and 27th of September—so keep looking for announcements from organizations about specials or events.

The truth is, so many absolutely wonderful animals remain in shelters because they simply aren’t given a chance due to physical appearance, shyness, age, and disability. On the contrary to what you might see at first, you could be skipping over a perfect companion.

woman working in animal shelter
Image Credit: Mila Supinskaya Glashchenko, Shutterstock

What Is a Less-Adoptable Pet?

When you think of less-adoptable pets, something different might come to mind for each person. But we want to shed light on exactly what that means. Below are some examples of pets that might be less adoptable and the reasons why this is.


Seniors are often less adoptable than other pets. Often people see a senior and feel that their life is already almost over and don’t feel willing to dedicate themselves to this animal. Sadly enough, it’s usually the older animals that need you the most.

They are often waiting years to be adopted and need a place to rest their head until they cross the Rainbow Bridge. If you adopt a senior, you can give the pet a fulfilling life.

Disabled Pets

Disabled pets are often completely overlooked for adoption. Many people don’t want to accommodate these animals, because they feel like they can’t care for them properly. Often, people can take care of these pets just fine, permitting they have the correct education, resources, and finances to keep up.

Disability can come in many forms. An animal can have some type of physical disability that requires accommodation, such as missing one leg. Other disabled animals might have a health condition that prevents them from living a normal life.

If an animal has to be on medication for the rest of their life, it could be very detrimental to a potential adoptive parent.

blind cat in animal shelter
Image Credit: Anna Krivitskaya, Shutterstock

Certain Colored Coats

It might sound a little odd to some people, but certain colors of the coat are more adoptable than others. This is true for both dogs and cats, though it might affect cats slightly more. For example, black cats are considered bad luck and are often overlooked for adoption because of this.

Still, even in the canine world, black dogs are some of the most overlooked of all others. Other animals might have odd markings or be less aesthetically pleasing than other shelter pets, making them easy to skip over.

You know what they say—don’t judge a book by its cover.

Behavioral Issues

Certain behavioral issues are just too much for some folks to manage. Some people need more time, resources, or energy to put up with certain challenges animals pose. With certain behavioral issues, especially considering unpredictability or aggression, it can be very hard for these animals to find homes.

It can be equally complicated if people have children or other pets. So if you were a single owner with the knowledge and willingness to work with an animal, who might just need a little extra TLC, behavioral issues can be no worry for you.

Particular Breeds

Even though most cats aren’t judged for their particular breed, dogs get the short end of the stick in this category. Many breeds are far less adoptable because of the negative connotations associated with them. A prime example of this is a Pitbull, as these dogs are stuck with bad reputations.

Often, these breeds are misjudged. However, we want to make it clear that many apartment complexes and public housing units do not allow certain breeds due to the potential for aggression or the stigma surrounding certain breeds. So, consider your living situation before committing to one of these breeds.

american pitbull barking
Image Credit: Brezhneva.od, Shutterstock


Some pets are much more approachable than others. You might see an animal hanging out in the corner or crouching when you get close. This can be a deterrent for some people who prefer a more outgoing pet. However, many of these animals have been through situations that impacted their trust for humans.

You can rekindle that trust and build something new!

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Staggering Homeless Pet Statistics

What is the most heartbreaking about homeless pets is the statistics involved. Every year, an estimated 6.3 million dogs, cats, and other pets wind up in shelters. Some of these animals are abandoned, others are lost, but many are surrendered from current owners.

How many are adopted, you ask? Sadly, under half. According to statistical data, only 4.1 million of these animals are adopted into new homes. What’s even more heartbreaking than that? Of these 3.2 million adopted animals, many of them find themselves in the same situation not even a year after their adoption.

Ultimately, many folks need more education, understanding, and responsibility for pet ownership. Many find themselves in a situation where they’re not equipped to deal with the particular behavioral, financial, or time-consuming implications that a pet brings.

The Impact of Animal Shelters

Because animal shelters are so overrun, they often work to look for new ways to educate the public about animal homelessness and attempt to place existing animals with appropriate families to avoid them being rehomed again in the future.

Despite their efforts, many animals have bounced around from home to home and never know what it feels like to experience love, connection, and lifelong companionship with their owner.

If you choose to adopt an animal, keep in mind that you are their lifeline. They did not ask to be in the situation and were bred to be domesticated, making living in the wild impossible. Feral dogs, cats, and other types of animals are often killed, poisoned, hit by cars, and so on.

They often freeze to death in the winter or starve to death on the street. Even in shelters, many people are drawn to purebreds or aesthetically pleasing animals. Unfortunately, it’s often the ones that don’t catch your eye that need you the most.

cats in animal shelter
Image Credit: Yulia Grigoryeva, Shutterstock

How to Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet

Adopting any pet is a huge decision, and one that should be considered very carefully. Even though many of us animal lovers want to help animals, it doesn’t always mean that we are at a place in our lives that we can dedicate ourselves to that animal.

But if you have carefully considered it and you’re ready to adopt, let us persuade you to choose a less adoptable pet. Here are some things you can do to better select a companion.

1. Choose a Reputable Shelter or Rescue

The first step to finding an animal is to choose a reputable shelter or rescue. If you aren’t selective about this, the animal might not have gotten the proper treatment or care. Some are not forthright about some of the animals, or they simply don’t know certain things about them.

It’s going to make it very complicated to tell if this animal is compatible. Often this happens at shelters that are completely overrun beyond capacity. So, make sure that you are selective and do your research about the shelters in your area.

2. Take Your Time

Some shelters are so overrun with homeless pets that they are ready to scoot them out the door to just anyone. The problem with this is that you have a lot of candidates coming in who are less than prepared to adopt a pet, creating homelessness again for that animal in the future.

We urge you to go into the shelter, ask questions, get to know the animals, and even spend several days of your choosing in the shelter before you make a final choice. This will help you get to know all of the shelter pets so you can select the one that you think is most compatible with your lifestyle.

two women adopting cats at the shelter
Image Credit: BearFotos, Shutterstock

3. Take Special Note of Overlooked Animals

When you are in the shelter, be very, very aware of the animals around you. Take note of the dog tucked away in the corner or the kitty that lost an eye.

If you pay very close attention to the animals that don’t immediately capture your attention, you might just find one of the best animals you’ve ever had in your entire life. Plus, you would prevent that animal from being euthanized later.

4. Support Local Organizations

Even if you’re not ready to adopt yourself, you can always help the cause! You can donate, sponsor, or volunteer at shelters to spread the word and try to find special cases and new homes! You could even try fostering pets until they are adopted to get them out of the kennels.

Your contribution goes a long way!

animal shelter donations
Image Credit: Veja, Shutterstock

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So, now you understand exactly what Adopt a Less-Adoptable Pet Week is all about. If you’ve missed it for this year, don’t worry, as this event occurs annually. So, whether you are in a position to adopt or just want to help a good cause, there are many ways to contribute.

Featured Image Credit: Andriy Blokhin, Shutterstock

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