Are you thinking about adding a pet to your family? Sure, everybody wants a playful puppy or a snuggly kitten, but have you considered bringing home an older pet instead?

When it comes to dogs and cats, senior animals offer a number of advantages over younger models. And animal shelters are often filled with older pets in need of a home. Inconceivably, it is not uncommon for folks to dump off their older cat or dog at the shelter when they are no longer fun to play with. So an animal that has lived for years with a family may suddenly find itself in a cage at the kennel.

That was the case with Shady, the dog adopted by photographer Lori Fusaro. MNN's recent post about Fusaro, and the photography project she started to showcase senior pets in the hopes of finding them a home, inspired me to do a little research about the benefits to adopting an older pet. Here's what I learned:

What you see is what you get. When you adopt a kitten or a puppy, you don't know how they will grow or how their personalities will develop. But older animals are fully grown and their personalities are already shining through.

No need to potty train! Older animals are already housebroken and litter-trained, so you won't have to waste your time with a newspaper or carrying your kitten back and forth to the litter box.

You won't have to spend a fortune on toys. Older dogs and cats are past that mischievous playful stage where they must be constantly entertained to keep them out of trouble. That's not to say that an older dog won't appreciate a good bone or a squeaky ball, but he'll likely be just as happy with a cozy bed and yummy bowl of food.

You can teach an old dog new tricks. Forget that corny old saying. You most certainly can teach an older dog new tricks. In fact, because they have a greater attention span than puppies, older dogs actually tend to be easier to train.

It may save an older animals life. Most animal shelters are filled to capacity, so when it comes time to euthanize, older pets are often the first to go. By adopting an older pet, you are not only gaining an instant companion, you are saving an animal's life.

Why you should adopt an older pet
Sure, puppies and kitties are cute, but older animals need a home too. Here's why you should consider bringing home a senior pet.