Interview with Spoonie stuff magazine 3rd May 2019
It’s time to recognise pets with disabilities, from three legged cats to dogs on wheels and everything in between! National Specially-Abled Pets Day is celebrated annually on the 3rd May to help raise awareness of the many disabled pets looking for homes, as well as educate people on how to care for these amazing animals.
Animal lover and pet lifestyle expert Colleen Paige created the national day as a result of working with hundreds of special needs pets as an Animal Behaviourist. Originally named ‘National Disabled Pets Day’ when it launched back in 2006, it soon changed in order to shed a more positive light on these specially-abled animals.
Colleen says: “The goal of National Specially Abled Pets Day is to honour these incredible animals for their spirit and their bravery. Despite their physical limitations they bring unconditional love to the lives of everyone around them.”
“This day gives the opportunity for exposure of special-needs pets looking for a loving forever home.”
Disabled pets are often overlooked
We’ve all heard of pets that help disabled people. But there are many animals with disabilities themselves in need of loving new homes. Unfortunately they are often overlooked due to fears of expensive medication and hefty vet bills. But these pups and kitties just need a little bit of extra TLC and an understanding owner.
Whether it’s vision impairment, hearing loss, missing limbs or conditions that cause pain, specially-abled pets can still lead full lives.
They see the dogs rollin’…
Wheels4Dogs specialise in pet wheelchairs and disability aids.
Set up 7 years ago after facing difficulties finding a suitable wheelchair for her German Shepherd Heidi, Julia has passed the baton to her friend Becky, who now runs the business.
Becky explains the positive impact Wheels4Dogs has: “From all the feedback I have received it seems on the whole people react very positively towards disabled pets who use wheelchairs. Interestingly owners frequently tell me that walks take a lot longer, as everyone wants to stop and talk to the disabled dog.”
Charity ‘Broken Biscuits’ are helping change people’s perceptions of disabled pets
Husband and wife duo Cassie and Tim Carney started disabled animal charity Broken Biscuits 6 years ago, after seeing so many paraplegic stray dogs in shelters they’d been helping out in abroad. They provide wheelchairs to dogs in rescue shelters.
As well as helping rehome specially-abled dogs, the couple also have their own special fur baby, Otto, a double amputee Lhasa Apso.
“I remember seeing Otto chasing a bee whilst we had gone out for a walk near some bluebells and of course there was plenty of insects there amongst the flowers he was ecstatic. It’s these little things that count: with wheels they don’t miss out on anything.”
Although Broken Biscuits helps rescue dogs, the main aim of the charity is to change attitudes towards disabled animals.
“We speak with vets, universities, schools and clubs and share some of our dogs’ rehabilitation stories so others can see just what is possible and hopefully open up discussions.”
“We have several ROLL MODEL dogs on the team who are brilliant ice breakers for those who may never have seen an animal amputee before. They can ask anything: how they move and do day-to-day activities like going to the toilet. We can laugh about the questions with no judgements or anxiety.”
“We really believe these sessions are helpful, not just for our cause, but to help people understand just how normal and capable our dogs are. They have adapted perfectly well and are loving life just the way they are. It’s a really basic but important message about being accepted for who you are.”