Finding Homes for Less Adoptable Pets

In honor of’s Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week, I thought a post about adopting out “less adoptable” pets was in order.

Some popular adjectives that come to mind for many when conjuring up the perfect dog include young, happy, healthy, and good-looking, however, these are not necessarily the marks of a great pet (at least, not right out of the gate). It’s true; dogs who are available for adoption are sometimes “less than perfect,” but it’s also true that “perfect” puppies sometimes turn into “not-so-perfect” dogs.

(In this video, you’ll see Max, a disabled dog whose front leg is fused at the elbow. This video shows that he can still have a great time. He was my foster dog and has since gone on to make a family very happy!)

As a person who has adopted and rehabilitated a puppy mill survivor with severe post-traumatic stress disorder, I can personally attest to the fact that sometimes the “less adoptable” dogs make the best pets. The way I see it, adding a dog to your life is like adding a child: It’s a big responsibility, and you often get out of it what you put in. As rescuers, how do we get people to understand this and encourage them to take a chance on a pet who may seem less adoptable?

Here are some strategies:

1) Make sure your dogs are clean and fresh. Nothing is a bigger turn-off than a dog who stinks. Adopters won’t even want to touch him or her, let alone take him or her home. Partner with a local dog wash to help you clean or dogs or have volunteers come in regularly and before your big adoption events to make sure everyone is looking good. If your dogs are housed in foster homes, ensure fosters have what they need for grooming and help them to understand the best ways to do it.

2) Give your dogs basic training. Potty training, sit, stay, and come can go a long way to convincing someone that a “less desirable” dog will actually be a great companion. One of the most requested attributes is that a dog is potty-trained. This can be difficult in a shelter setting, so if your dogs are housed in a shelter, try to shuffle your “less adoptables” off to foster homes where they can get the TLC they need to become “more adoptable.”

3) Post photos that show the dog’s personality. Photos are the first thing that a potential adopter will see, and they will judge adoptable dogs primarily on photos. Therefore, counsel your adopters about how to take good photos. (Click here for more marketing and photo tips.)

4) Take your “less adoptables” to as many adoption fairs as possible to get them out in front of people. These dogs can be their own best marketing tools – you just have to give them the opportunity!

How does your rescue market your “less adoptable” pets? What has worked best for you?

Post to Twitter

This entry was posted in adopt a dog. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Finding Homes for Less Adoptable Pets

  1. I LOVE the so-called Less Adoptable dogs! In fact, I have a houseful of them! One was obese when I adopted him at 11 mos old & was a holy terror! Another came to me badly abused with a deformed foot & missing fur from trauma, another is a puppy mill survivor and daily overcomes her fears, a puppy who survived parvo and distemper and seniors adopted at 9 & 15 years old…we’re a quirky bunch but we’re happy and share lot’s of love and laughs!

    I hope more people will open their hearts to an older dog, a special needs or disabled dog….to love a dog & be loved in return goes way past the “perfect” dog. Fostering or adopting a less adoptable dog is so rewarding!

Comments are closed.