National Pet Day: Adopt an Unlikely Companion - NBC Chicago
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Finding Forever Homes Across the Country on Aug. 19, 2017

National Pet Day: Adopt an Unlikely Companion

"Less adoptable" animals spend nearly four times longer in a shelter than the average pet

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Tuesday marks National Pet Day, which celebrates four-legged friends around the country and raises awareness about animals in shelters in need of forever homes.

    Popular dog breeds such as the schnauzer and golden retriever are most likely to be adopted, along with tabby cats and gray cats, a Priceonomics study found

    But according to a PetFinder survey, "less adoptable" animals spend nearly four times longer in a shelter than the average pet. The wait time can be years.

    Common Shelter Breeds
    The American pit bull terrier and the Chihuahua are the two most common dog breeds found in animal shelters, with thousands available for adoption, according to PetFinder.

    Although pit bulls have a reputation for being aggressive, with proper training, these loyal companions are gentle, patient and fun-loving dogs.

    Chihuahuas, which have been appearing more frequently in shelters due to their pop culture popularity in the early 2000s, are extremely loyal and love people.

    Senior Pets
    Often overlooked for wiggly puppies and furry kittens, older pets can spend years living in shelters. Many senior pets are already potty trained, know basic commands and have fewer needs than their younger counterparts.

    Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

    They're generally calmer than puppies and kittens and adapt faster to family environments and first-time pet owners, according to the Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Older pets are also less likely to damage your home or keep you up at night.

    Rabbits
    When most people consider adopting a pet, dogs and cats are traditionally the most popular choice. According to SaveABunny, a nonprofit rabbit rescue, rabbits are the third most common type of animals euthanized at shelters. They make great companions, but require a different type of work and attention than cats and dogs. Before making the decision to bring home a long-eared friend, be sure to know what to expect.

    Unlike cats and dogs, rabbits require a specific indoor, caged environment. The ASPCA suggests having as large a space for your rabbit as possible, with room for a litter box with hay and plenty of food. Rabbits are very clean by nature, and will do their best to keep their living quarters clean. If the litter box is changed daily, you're rabbit's home will be odor-free.

    Rabbits have powerful hind legs designed for running and jumping. They need plenty of out-of-cage exercise time to run and jump in a safe area, either inside or outside the house, according to the ASPCA. Thousands of rabbits are available for adoption through PetFinder.com, so hop to it!

    Reptiles
    The number of people who own reptiles has doubled over the past 10 years, according to an American Pet Products Association report cited in Animal Sheltering Magazine. As a result, shelters are seeing a large number of reptiles abandoned by owners who find themselves unprepared.

    It's important to research the type of reptile you plan to adopt. Familiarize yourself with the animal's required living environment and make sure you can accommodate the reptile when it's fully grown.

    Though specific care depends on the type of animal, home environment is an important factor for all reptiles. These pets are cold blooded and require specific temperatures and lighting, according to Pets at Home's guidelines

    For a good family pet, Reptiles Magazine suggests the bearded dragon and a variety of gecko species.

    More than 53,000 pets were adopted through the 2016 Clear the Shelters campaign, a nationwide push to place deserving animals in forever homes. Join the conversation on social media using #ClearTheShelters.