In August 2010, 5-year-old Sarah, on vacation in Daniel Boone National Forest, Ky., jumped over a pile of rocks without realizing that a steep, downward slope lay on the other side. The fall shattered the lower aspect of her right leg, and there was too much damage to the bone and soft tissues to save the limb. Doctors amputated at the ankle, subsequently fitting her with a prosthetic.
Sarah is actually a golden doodle, and her "parents" chose to help Sarah live as a specially abled dog.
About Specially-abled Pets Day
Initiated in 2006, Specially-abled Pets Day "celebrates these amazing and heroic animals, helps to educate the public about caring for disabled pets and finds homes for orphaned, specially abled pets."
What is a specially abled pet? In addition to accidents, other causes of disability include:
Just like children, dogs, cats and other pet animals require vigilant attention to avoid injury and accidents. Motor vehicle accidents and trauma while playing outdoors occur all too frequently, which can potentially necessitate amputation.
- Diseases such as cancer (e.g., bone cancer) and intervertebral disc disease of the spinal cord resulting in paralysis
- Congenital (birth) defects, such as deafness
- Urinary incontinence (loss of bladder control)
- Age-related illness (e.g., severe osteoarthritis, glaucoma requiring removal of one or both eyes)
Safety Belts for Pets
Motor vehicle accidents are one of the most common reasons that pets, usually dogs, require limb amputation. Some states, such as New Jersey, are actively considering fining owners that do not properly restrain their pets in either a crate or seatbelt while driving. Seat belts save lives, are widely available, easy to operate and inexpensive.
Help is only a click away
Being faced with the challenge of caring for a specially abled pet can initially appear to be a daunting experience, yet several organizations are readily available to help owners of specially abled pets. These organizations help owners obtain and learn how to use wheelchairs, prosthetics, splints, stretchers, drag bags and other life-saving equipment. One such organization is HandicappedPets.com.
"The premise this company was founded on was to create a place for owners that have a disabled pet to turn to for support and assistance," says Lisa-Marie Mulkern, director of marketing and communications, who emphasizes that there are viable alternatives to euthanasia.
"We service thousands of pet owners world-wide," shares Mulkern.
She adds, "Our products can even be used as postoperative recovery aids following a cruciate ligament surgery, for example."
Their signature product, the Walkin' Wheels wheelchair, offers an alternative to cage rest and helps owners of large dogs get the pet out to urinate and defecate.
Additional information on caring for, adopting, or supporting specially-abled pets is available at the National Specially-abled Pets Day website disabledpetsday.com and the nonprofit Handicapped Pets Foundation.
Photo Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Michael Shivers, ©iStockphoto.com/Erik Zunec