Bonded Pairs

Sep 2, 2018 | Blog

In animal rescue programs and adoption centers, “bonded pairs” are two dogs or cats that have a very close relationship, as the moniker expresses.

What is a bonded pair?

All pets are capable of forming bonds, either with other pets or with humans. Bonded pairs of animals have generally grown up together. While often siblings, non-siblings can bond as well. Although every animal can develop bonds, there are times when these bonds are so close that one or both animals decline when not with the other.

Most bonded pairs come from the same home, but not all animals that are turned in together are bonded in a significant way. While they may like the other animal in the home, they are also capable of forming other social affiliations and are relatively comfortable on their own.


Casey and Wrigley are mother and son, who came to HWAH together.


Keeping pairs together

“When making a decision about keeping a pair together, many factors are considered. We pay close attention to each animal’s behavior alone and with his friend,” explains KHS Placement and Behavior Manager Brandi King.

“If we see obvious signs of increasing stress and anxiety upon separation that doesn’t diminish as the animals settle in at the shelter, we will consider adopting them as a pair. We take their history into consideration, particularly if the previous owner has noted signs of distress when the animals were separated. It can be a bit of a process, but it’s worth it in the end to ensure the well-being of bonded pairs,” says Brandi.

This is always a difficult decision, explains Brandi, because paired animals tend to have a significantly longer length of stay in a shelter setting. However, separating a strongly bonded pair can lead to serious problems. 

Bonded animals who are separated may demonstrate anxiety by pacing, whining, destructive behavior, loss of appetite, and generally shutting down and becoming non-interactive with people and other animals. They grieve the loss of their friend and sometimes cannot get out of that grief cycle.

Marlie and Dixie dancingMarlie and Dixie “dancing”

Marlie and Dixie are un-related but lived with a community of sisters until it closed and the sisters all were relocated.

The benefits of adopting a bonded pair

It’s easy to imagine the downside to adopting a bonded pair: two pets require a bigger investment in food and veterinary care. But what are the benefits of adopting a couple?

Your pets are never alone. Some pets become agitated or bored when left alone. These feelings can lead to acting out in negative ways, including destruction of property, relapses in litter/house training and boredom eating. Pets can be anxious, and their owners can feel guilty.

If your pet has a companion, you are less likely to see these behaviors. Pets are less stressed by your departure and find ways to entertain each other that should leave your house less of a mess and your pets happier.

Pets who live together are often healthier. Anxiety can lead to physical illnesses, from hair loss to heart problems. Add to that boredom and stress eating, and you have the potential for an overweight, unhealthy pet.

Bonded pairs often play together, keeping their energy up and increasing their exercise levels. The reduction in stress will help keep their hearts healthy and their bodies fit.

 Shared from the KY Humane Society

Won’t YOU think about fostering a senior pup and making their life SPECIAL!!!????