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When Is Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week? 2023 Update & Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

two woman adopting dogs at animal shelter

Puppies and kittens are often the first to be adopted, while others spend more of their years in shelters due to factors beyond their control. These animals are no different in the amount of joy they can bring to any pet lover’s life, but sadly, many pets are considered “less adoptable.” To highlight these pets that are often disregarded and to bring to light what makes them special, Petfinder created Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week.

Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week is held annually in the 3rd week of September. It is unfortunate that several animals are not adopted because they don’t resemble the “perfect” pets, but this holiday was developed to change that.

What and When is Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week?

Many pets can spend many years of their lives waiting in shelters for their day to come when they are finally chosen. They witness human after human coming in and picking another pet over them and watch so many of their furry friends go to their new forever homes. If that statement tugged at your heartstrings, you now understand why Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week was developed.

Some animals in shelters are considered “less adoptable” because they are older, have a disability, or just have a bad reputation due to the breed’s history. However, the truth is that these pets are no different when it comes to companionship and love.

Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week shines a light on these qualities and brings awareness to potential pet owners about the stereotype that has shaped the future of these lovable fur babies. It provides an opportunity for the animals to find their forever home.

Young woman with worker choosing which dog to adopt from a shelter
Image Credit: hedgehog94, Shutterstock

Which Types of Pets Are Less Adoptable?

Generally, shelter animals are adopted within 12.5 weeks, but pets that are in shelters for 48 weeks or longer are typically classified as less adoptable. It could be because they’re old, ill, disabled, or simply look good ragged. Senior pets are often overlooked because of their shorter lifespan and illnesses that may occur due to their age.

Pets with special needs are adopted less because owners are uncertain of their care requirements, and often black cats and dogs are overlooked because the color has been associated with aggressiveness and superstitions. Some dog breeds are considered less desirable because of their reputation, such as Pitbulls, who are often mistaken to be aggressive and unsafe for children.

Overall, “less adoptable” pets can include the following:

  • Senior pets
  • Physically disabled pets
  • Hearing-impaired animals
  • Blind animals
  • “Aggressive” breeds
  • Pets with mange
  • Unwell pets with conditions such as diabetes or epilepsy
  • “Shy” pets
  • Black dogs and cats

How to Observe Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week

female volunteer with homeless dog
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

While it’s impossible to take all the “less adoptable” pets home with you, there are many things you can do to take part and make a difference. No difference is too small or insignificant!

Shelters and rescues use the event to raise awareness, but you can make a difference all year!

  • One of the best things you could do is adopt a “less adoptable” pet! If you are ready to add another fur baby to your family, take this opportunity to make a difference. Even though it may be intimidating or concerning to adopt a pet that is older or has a disability, with a bit of research and preparation, they can make excellent companions.
  • If you cannot adopt a pet, you can donate money, food, blankets, beds, or toys to your local shelter.
  • You can volunteer at your local shelter or rescue. You could even turn this into a weekly contribution; over time, you will get to know how wonderful these pets can be! It may be the experience you need to become the proud owner of a “less adoptable” pet.
  • Share photos and raise awareness on social media. You can take photos of less adoptable pets at the shelter and share them. To reach a wide audience, use #adoptalessadoptablepetweek and as many other relevant hashtags as possible.
  • Encourage your friends and family to get involved.

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What are the Benefits of Adopting a Less Adoptable Pet

Adopting an overlooked pet has several benefits.

Inspiring Others

Adopting a “less adoptable” is a noble act since it helps pets find their forever home where they will be cared for, loved, and safe. Every animal deserves love, and adopting a pet with disabilities or only a few years left on the clock can open our hearts and help us be more present and patient with our pets. Kindness is also contagious, so you may inspire your friends and family to do the same, and it will teach your kids about empathy and kindness.

Improving Pets’ Lives

When you adopt a pet who has waited so long to find a home, they are filled with gratitude and don’t fail to show it. We often don’t give animals enough credit for their emotional intelligence, but if you rescue a pet from a shelter, especially ones that are “less adoptable,” you’ll improve their emotional health considerably. We like to believe that their gratitude and unconditional love make them so special.

a woman hugging a cat in a shelter
Image Credit: V2505, Shutterstock

Helping Shelters

Adopting a “less adoptable” pet will also help to free up space in shelters and rescues, and what you may not anticipate is that they are often easy to care for. For instance, an older dog may be happy napping most of the day!

Older pets are also most likely housetrained and generally have a more calm and docile personality, unlike a rambunctious puppy knocking things over and chewing everything. So, if you prefer a companion to curl up with you while you read a book, an older pet may be the most suitable option.


Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week occurs annually in the third week of September. Petfinder developed it to raise awareness about the myths and misconceptions of “less adoptable” pets and highlight the joys and love they can bring into your life.

You can change the life of a pet who has waited months to be adopted, and giving them a forever home can be a beautiful experience for you. These pets are often the most loving since they are so grateful and appreciative to receive the love, care, warmth, and safety of a new home and human companion.

Featured Image Credit: hedgehog94, Shutterstock

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