Special-needs pets adoption promotion

Special-needs pets adoption promotion highlights animals with medical (e.g., FeLV cats) and physical (aka, "handi-capable") challenges.
By Denise LeBeau

For almost 30 years, Best Friends Animal Society has been expanding the definition of "adoptable" when it comes to special-needs pets. Where once the stigma of being "imperfect" might have meant a death sentence, the work of Best Friends has been transforming misconceptions, such as cats with FIV can't live long, healthy lives and incontinent dogs who require a cart won't find a home. The Sanctuary adopts out animals who have a variety of conditions every day - and we wanted to share our experiences with our No More Homeless Pets Network partners across the country to help them get their super-special adoptable pets into homes too. The Love Is Special adoption and special-needs awareness campaign does exactly that.

Best Friends staffer Tami Simon, events supervisor for the No More Homeless Pets Network, says, "We have produced and packaged an easy-to-use promotional toolkit to help groups find loving forever homes for some of their most special charges. It's one of the steeper hurdles on the road to No More Homeless Pets, and we're thrilled to be able to share our expertise."

Animals with mobility challenges

Beth the cat, who was injured in a car crash, from Community Animal Rescue and AdoptionBeth arrived at Community Animal Rescue and Adoption (CARA) in Jackson, Mississippi, with one of her rear legs crushed by a car. The six-month-old kitten lost her leg, but not her spirit and spunk. CARA used the Love Is Special promotion, and this plucky, outgoing year-and-a-half-year-old adolescent found her perfect home at the beginning of March.

"Beth knew instantly that Ruth was for her, and the sweet thing was that Ruth knew it just as well," says Laura Lillard, vice chairman at CARA.

Ruth reports that Beth is fitting in well with her family, and Ruth is crazy about her. They even have a heartwarming routine. "Beth loves to get on our laps and sing to us," says Ruth.

In St. Louis, Missouri, Network partner Tenth Life cat rescue rocked Love Is Special as well. They have placed two cats into loving homes already. Izzy, a sweet-natured cat with an ebony coat, was accepted into Tenth Life when she was four weeks old. A local rescue group didn't have the resources to address her special needs (her back legs twist inward). Ostracized from her littermates, Izzy wasn't getting the proper nutrition to survive.

Tenth Life specializes in cats with medical issues. They got Izzy into a foster home where she received physical therapy and lots of TLC. Izzy is able to get around fine - albeit differently than other cats - but she's no less loveable or adoptable.

Izzy the cat, whose back legs are twist inward, from Tenth LifeOver the weekend of March 15, Tenth Life used the Love Is Special promotion to advertise some of their special-needs pets at a local adoption event. A woman came in, held Izzy in her arms soothingly, and their staff knew right away that a beautiful match had been made. Through further conversations with Izzy's new adopter, the staff learned that the woman also had a condition with one of her legs.

Tenth Life also works with many animal control facilities with too few resources to care for special-needs pets and frequently takes in the most at-risk cats. Amelia is missing the bottom half of her rear legs. The condition is congenital and causes her no pain. She can get around almost as quickly as any cat on a mission. Amelia received tons of attention when Tenth Life promoted her on their Facebook page, and it was a lucky local family that made the connection with the awesome kitty at her foster home.

Cat positive for FeLV

Lolli the cat, who is positive for FeLV, in Los AngelesThe Best Friends Pet Adoption and Spay/Neuter Center in Los Angeles is also using the Love Is Special promotion to help get special-needs pets into homes. One of their most endearing residents is a cat named Lolli. She is feline leukemia (FeLV) positive, which can be a death sentence in the shelter system, but is a condition that can be managed.

"Not only is this promotion about getting special-needs pets placed, it's about bringing education to L.A. A cat like Lolli can bring years of love to her people, and maybe even some dogs. She greets the office dogs enthusiastically through her kennel with a friendly 'meow!'" says Kari Hartkorn, Best Friends marketing manager.

Lolli is being fostered in staffer Alice Pike's office, where they enjoy spending quality time playing and snuggling. According to Alice, no one loves treat time more than Lolli.

"This little brown tabby is the perfect cat for anyone who really wants an affectionate kitty. She can just sit for hours in my lap, and she brightens each morning by meeting me at the door with her cheerful greeting. She will make someone a great companion," says Alice.

"Handi-capable" pets adoption promotion

The Sanctuary is also using the Love Is Special promotion to give extra exposure to our "handi-capable" pets-in-waiting. The promotion goes through March 31, with adoption and transport fees waived. So far, over 15 pets have been paired with their love matches, including Madison.

Get involved to help animals in need

If you're looking for your next pet, check out the adoptable pets at the Sanctuary or find a special-needs pet locally at one of our participating Network partners.

The No More Homeless Pets® Network of animal welfare organizations and municipal shelters is committed to saving the lives of homeless pets through effective adoption and spay/neuter programs. Together, we're working to end the killing of healthy pets in our nation's shelters.

Photos courtesy of CARA and Tenth Life

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