Do Something Special

Category: Blog, Coalition Corner, Summer 2016 199 0

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Animals with special needs deserve a chance at adoption

Put me in, Coach! I want to play! That’s the unspoken message behind the face of the “benchwarmers”—the longtime shelter residents who haven’t gotten a chance at a loving home due to their special needs. Whether that need comes from chronic illness, terminal disease, or complex behavioral challenges, San Diego Humane Society (SDHS) is committed to helping all animals in their care find humans with open hearts.

“These are animals that are overlooked—sometimes for a year or longer—because they have medical or behavioral issues, or simply because they don’t stand out,” explains Dr. Gary Weitzman, SDHS president and CEO. “But just because they’re not catching people’s attention, it doesn’t mean we stop working with them. We are always evaluating these animals and making sure they’re getting proper enrichment. It’s our whole model—to work to get every adoptable animal into a home.”

SDHS is so committed to finding homes for animals with special needs that adoption fees are often waived or sponsored and, as with all pets, the organization serves as a valuable resource for post-adoption training and education.   

While all animals require work, patience, and love, animals with special needs are looking for adopters who will go the extra mile. For some, that means committing to positive reinforcement training; for others, it means monitoring a chronic illness or administering medication; or it could mean adapting to an animal’s disability. No matter what extra steps need to be taken to provide for that new pet, Weitzman assures that it’s all worth it—especially for the animal being removed from the stress of a shelter environment.

“For them,” he says, “it doesn’t just mean something—it means everything.”

For information on adopting a pet with special needs, visit


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