It's Adopt a Senior Pet Month and the Troutdale shelter has plenty of mature pets that need homes

OUTLOOK PHOTO: TERESA CARSON - Dozer, at 14 years old is the oldest dog in the Multnomah County animal shelter. Hes an American Pit Bull mix and is most anxious to get a home where he can get some belly rubs and play time.Sumo, a silky black cat with a few years on him — and the funky ears to prove it — is a cuddler.

If you're a dog person, how about Dozer, a handsome American pit bull mix? He's a lively gent, pushing 14 years old. But like a lot of older folks, he's got a touch of arthritis.

At 15 years old, Sumo is the senior-most in the shelter, and Dozer is the eldest dog.

November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month, so there's no better time to head down to the Multnomah County Animal Services shelter in Troutdale to visit Sumo, Dozer and the other older pets looking for a place to call home.

"Older animals can make great pets," said Dr. Chris Holenstein, a veterinarian at Gresham Animal Hospital on Northwest Division Street.

Holenstein and the folks at the shelter acknowledge that older pets can be harder to adopt out.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: TERESA CARSON - Sumo, the shelters most senior feline, is an outgoing and affectionate kitty. He loves attention and will give lots of kisses."People like younger cats and dogs," he said. They like the idea of their pet being with them a long time. Our heartstrings are going to be pulled a lot sooner with an older pet."

But of course, for their owners, no pet ever lives long enough.

Seniors are more likely to have medical issues "that can mean veterinarian bills sooner rather than later," noted Karen McGill, the feline specialist at Multnomah County Animal Services.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: MULTNOMAH COUNTY ANIMAL SERVICES - Buddy, a German shepherd, is getting some time out of the shelter with a foster family. Hes about 10 years old and needs a home where any kids are older than 15. Also, seniors are not as likely as the youngsters to rush to the front of their cages in the shelter for attention.

"They are the easiest to overlook because they aren't the most dazzling in the cage," said McGill.

But there are lots of advantages to adopting older pets. They are often more serene and more likely to ease in to a new home. Older pets "are not just bouncing off the walls," Holenstein said.

Older pets, McGill noted, are "calmer and more stable. But, that doesn't mean that they are less fun.

"People want to know what they are getting when they adopt a pet," she said, "and with an older animal, you have a better idea."

For example, if someone is looking for a lap cat, an older kitty's proclivities in that area are well-established, and senior felines are more likely to want to sit on a lap. There is no need to housebreak an older pet, and senior animals don't require the same level of constant supervision that puppies and kittens often need.

Usually older dogs don't need as much vigorous exercise and attention as younger animals.

"You don't have to go out and throw the ball for 45 minutes a day," Holenstein said.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: TERESA CARSON - Koda, about 7 years old, is a big guy and very cuddly. Koda is not fond of dogs and can get anxious with children.One big myth is that older pets won't bond with new owners. The experts said that simply is not true.

Older pets are good for any type of home, depending on their personalities. Some old animals love the hubbub of a house with kids.

"I've seen our senior cats go home with families with three or four kids, and it works out quite well," said McGill.

Senior pets are often ideal for senior citizens because of their calmer demeanors. Older dogs can walk at a slower pace with an older owner, for example.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: TERESA CARSON - Gus is 9 years old and ready to find a forever family. The Multnomah County shelter gives people an incentive to take home a senior by making it much cheaper to adopt older pets.

A cat that's older than 6 is only $30, compared with $120 for a kitten. Likewise, a young puppy will cost the adopter $250, while a senior dog will only cost $60.

Holenstein said he has a couple of clients that only adopt older dogs, living by the philosophy that no pet should spend their golden years in a shelter and die without a home and family.

"They look for older dogs because they want to give them a good home and good quality of life for their last few years," he said.

How to adopt?

The Multnomah County Animal Services shelter is at 1700 West Historic Columbia River Hwy., Troutdale. The phone number 503-988-7387.

Pets up for adoption are posted on their web page at In addition to basic information and a picture, there is a chatty description of the animal and any special attributes or needs it may have.

The shelter is open noon-7 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursday and Fridays and 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and closed Wednesdays.

The shelter has a sale on pets in December. The cost for all pets is the same as the day of the month, plus the county license fee. So, if you adopt a dog on Dec. 1, it will cost $16. On Dec. 2 the cost will be $17.

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