pet adoption

‘He's my guy': Senior dog gets adopted after spending more than 400 days at shelter

While older pets like Ziggy may get overlooked, Lopez shares that people would be surprised at all the benefits of adopting an older pet. 

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After spending more than 400 days in an animal shelter, Ziggy, a 9-year-old black and white boxer mix, finally received what he so desperately longed for: a loving home. 

Ziggy arrived at the Miami-Dade Pet Adoption and Protection Center in Doral, Florida, in July 2022 after being found as a lost pet. With hundreds of other pets arriving daily at the shelter and a decline in adoptions nationwide, Ziggy quickly became a long-term resident. 

His face was seen on several social media posts published by the shelter, rescue organizations and the local police department.

To boost his exposure, Ziggy was placed in an enclosure at the front of the shelter, where it was easier for potential adopters to see him, and he was also featured in NBCUniversal Local’s Clear The Shelters nationwide pet adoption and donation initiative.

Despite his moments in the spotlight, Ziggy still remained in the shelter watching potential adopters walk by. That is until Jennie Lopez, a first time adopter, met him and immediately knew he was “her guy”. 

“Ziggy has been the biggest surprise that I could have imagined. He’s absolutely everything and more that I could have imagined in a dog,” Lopez said.

Statistically speaking, Ziggy had a few factors that were working against him — he was a larger dog and he was older. 

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals , senior pets have a lower adoption rate at just 25%, compared to younger dogs and puppies who have a 60% adoption rate. 

Lucky for him though, that’s exactly what Lopez was looking for. 

“I wanted an older and chill dog. I wanted a dog that would hang out and be a little bit of a couch potato,” Lopez laughed. “I know that older dogs are harder to adopt and so that was something that was important to me, giving an opportunity to an older dog.”

That’s when she met Ziggy.

“[Shelter employees] said ‘yeah we got the man for you,’ and they introduced me to Ziggy. I met a couple of other dogs but I think from the moment I met him I knew that he was my guy,” Lopez said. 

While older pets like Ziggy may get overlooked, Lopez shares that people would be surprised at all the benefits of adopting an older pet. 

“Older dogs tend to be house-trained and they’re just so eager to be loved and have a forever home,” said Lopez. “There’s so much to an older dog that people underestimate.”

After meeting Ziggy, Lopez couldn’t take him home that same day but she already knew she was meant to adopt him. 

The universe also seemed to agree because 24 hours after she met Ziggy, he showed up at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center, where Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava’s office was located and where Lopez happened to work.

“I met him on a Wednesday and he came into the office on Thursday. So I said to the mayor, ‘Mayor, I think I'm going to be adopting Ziggy,’ and she was so excited for us,” Lopez said.

However, Ziggy’s adoption didn’t come without hurdles.

After their initial encounter, Lopez waited two weeks before she went to officially adopt him, only to find out he wasn’t there anymore. When she called the shelter to start his adoption process, she found out that a rescue organization had picked him up.

That rescue was Bells Promise Rescue, a non-profit organization that works with local shelters to pull hard-to-adopt animals, like Ziggy, in order to help them find an adopter.

Determined to bring Ziggy home, Lopez contacted the rescue and told them she was ready to adopt him. 

A day after contacting Bells Promise, Lopez officially adopted Ziggy.

Ziggy, who is already adapting to life at home, has traded his shelter kennel for a couch and spends most of his time going for long walks and car rides.

“His favorite thing to do is to go on car adventures; he loves his car rides,” Lopez said. “He also loves walks! If he could walk 100 times a day, he would spend all day going on walks.”

Ziggy enjoying a car ride.

During Ziggy’s long shelter stay, he quickly became “shelter famous” for his sweet personality. According to Lopez, since his adoption, his personality has only flourished.

“Everyone [at the shelter] knew that he was a sweet, cuddle monster and he has been exactly that and even more so now, because he has his own couch, his own bed and free rein of the house,” Lopez explained. 

After having such a positive adoption experience, Lopez shared some tips for those who may be thinking about adopting a pet.

“If you're even considering it, go to a shelter, you don’t have to commit to anything,” said Lopez. “Go in there, speak to someone, tell them what you’re looking for, what your likes and dislikes are. They are so familiar with the animals there that they can absolutely connect you with what they think is a perfect match.”

For those that can’t adopt or foster, there are still ways you can help a shelter pet. 

“If you’re not ready for a dog or a cat, you can spend some time there, play with them, and take them out for a walk,” Lopez said. “Sometimes, they just need some human interaction, and it’s so good for them.” 

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