Monday, October 2, 2023

Two is better than one: Here’s how Heritage Humane Society handles adoption of ‘bonded’ pets

Tanya Nash with the Heritage Humane Society said it isn't uncommon for pets, especially cats, to come in as bonded pairs. And she said the shelter won't separate them, either. (Alexa Doiron/WYDaily)
Tanya Nash with the Heritage Humane Society said it isn’t uncommon for pets, especially cats, to come in as bonded pairs. And she said the shelter won’t separate them, either. (Alexa Doiron/WYDaily)

Adopting a new animal can be a learning curve and sometimes taking home one pet can turn into two.

Tanya Nash, customer care supervisor for the Heritage Humane Society, said it’s not uncommon for pets in the shelter to become bonded and have to be adopted together. 

“Usually if we’ve determined that they’re bonded, I’m not willing to separate them,” she said. “These animals rely on each other.”

When animals become bonded, whether it be siblings or animals that came from the same home, it means they take care of each other and provide emotional support. Nash said most shelters consider animals who have lived together for more than a year to be a bonded pair.

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During that time, she said they become like security blankets for each other and if one pet were taken from a bonded pair, it could be detrimental to their well being.

“Usually whichever one is left will go through a depression and have a hard time eating and adjusting and will get really scared,” she said. 

She said that’s why if a person falls in love with a pet that’s part of a bonded pair and isn’t willing to adopt both, Nash said the shelter will try to find them an animal with a similar personality to adopt.

Nash said it’s more common for cats than dogs to be bonded to each other and cats tend to be easier to adopt in pairs. She added it’s a lot more difficult to convince someone to adopt two dogs than it is two cats.

But getting potential adopters to consider taking home more than they bargained for is something Nash said the staff at Heritage finds important. She said they won’t separate pairs but they also look at a person’s home life when considering who to adopt a bonded pair.

“It’s less about marketing and more about learning more about what an adopter’s home life is like and finding a match based on a cat’s personality,” she said. 

For example, if a person works long hours and a pet would be home alone most of the day, she said they could be a great candidate for adopting a bonded pair. That way, while the owner is at work, the pets have their friend or sibling around.

Additionally, she said having two pets can be better than one sometimes because it takes the pressure off the owner to be their sole focus of attention.

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“Cats that are best friends and play together and groom each other, those are the easiest to care for,” Nash said. “They’re also the easiest to transition because they have each other, just like with people.”

When bringing a new animal into the home, it can be scary and cause anxiety for the pet. But if the animal comes with a friend or sibling then they’ll adjust to the transition much faster, typically. 

“Having a sibling they love and rely on just brings a lot of comfort and solace to an animal,” she said. “Animals are very similar to people in that when we have a security blanket, it makes us a little more confident and bolder and ease into change.”

Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at

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