Special Needs: Not as hard as you think

Juno and Nikki, adopted 2017 by SPCA staff member Shelby. Juno and Nikki’s special needs: they can’t be separated from each other, and are so timid that they must be kept on leash or in a securely fenced yard. One year later, Juno and Nikki go hiking with their mom and help take care of foster dogs she brings home!
Juno and Nikki, adopted 2017 by SPCA staff member Shelby. Juno and Nikki’s special needs: they can’t be separated from each other, and are so timid that they must be kept on leash or in a securely fenced yard. One year later, Juno and Nikki go hiking with their mom and help take care of foster dogs she brings home!

 

Some animals available for adoption at the SPCA of Hancock County are labeled “special needs.” Often animals in this category have a longer stay at the shelter while they’re looking for a home – but are they really harder to care for?

We would argue that they aren’t necessarily harder. “Special needs” refers to any animal who requires a particular care regimen or has physical characteristics that need to be taken into consideration by their future home. There are many kinds of special needs. We label animals this way in the shelter so that you know that this animal has a special consideration needed for their care – but please don’t be intimidated until you know what that need is!

For some households, a diabetic pet who gets insulin shots twice a day is easy to manage, and not for others. Some families are happy to bring home the kitten who is cheerful and healthy but will never be able to walk in a straight line. (“Wobbly” cats often have no idea there’s anything “wrong,” they just have to work harder to get where they are going.) Some families are able to adopt a dog who is terrified of the entire world, and give them a quiet and secure home environment where they flourish, and others don’t have the time or the home environment needed for a dog like this.

 

Ella, adopted 2018. Ella’s special need: She’s diabetic and receives insulin 2x/day.

 

One of the most common special needs we see at the SPCA of Hancock County are FIV+ cats. The animal rescue community has learned over the past ten years or so that FIV is very manageable. FIV+ cats can even live with FIV- cats, and typically live long, healthy lives.

We hear again and again from those who adopt special needs animals, “they fit right into my home, and I no longer think of them as special needs.” Why? Because an animal who is the right match will have qualities that you fall in love with, and when they need their medicine, or have a flare-up of their condition, or need a little help getting down from the bed, it’s not an imposition. It’s just you caring for your furry family member, quirks and all. And isn’t that what we all do for our pets anyway?