Celebrated annually on May 3rd, National Specially-abled Pets Day is a time for pet owners and animal lovers to celebrate to celebrate three-legged dogs, blind cats, and paralyzed guinea pigs. Because it can be difficult for shelters to find homes for pets with special needs, the day is also designed to encourage adoption of disabled animals. Says the founder of this national and internationally-recognized day, Colleen Paige, “These pets are very able! Pets that become challenged due to disease, birth flaws, or injuries, tend to develop greater senses than your average pet. Most of the time it’s as if they never had to readjust to life…and we need to keep up with them!”
These events help bring the community together to support animals with disabilities, connect disabled pets with their future owners, and help generate awareness for people who may not understand the special circumstances or needs of these animals.–PetCentric
Groups interested in observing this day might hold events such as: parade, activities, food, and informational booths. Individuals can also observe this day in various ways.
- One way is through direct involvement. Volunteer your time at a shelter or even become a foster or adoptive pet parent of a pet with a disability.
- A second way is financial. You can donate to animal groups that offer programs in support of pets with special needs. Your donation will help cover the cost of needed surgeries, equipment, and medicines.
- A final way is through education. Online sites, such as Pets with Disabilities and Specially Abled Pets, are good places to start.
All of these are intended to create an atmosphere of acceptance and support for pets with special needs.
I really hope what people take away from these stories is information to make decisions for their own pets, an appreciation for the resilience of all animals, and ultimately a sense of normalcy from the photos and stories. Technology continues to advance at a rapid rate, and our relationship and compassion toward animals continues to evolve.–
Carli Davidson, Mother Nature Network
One photographer has combined her creative skills and her love of animals to create a “Pets with Disabilities” photo series. Award-winning photographer Carli Davidson and experienced animal trainer Davidson has done regular photo shoots for zoos and spent years volunteering at shelters. She donates 10 percent of her proceeds to a monthly rotation of animal shelters that rescue disabled pets.
I love photography, but it has never trumped my desire to work with animals. I started taking pictures of the animals I was working with 12 years ago and shortly thereafter refocused my photography career toward them.–
Carli Davidson, Mother Nature Network
Davidson began her “Pets With Disabilities” series two years ago, after seeing a wheelchair-bound German shepherd playing fetch with its owner on an Oregon beach. Mother Nature Network quotes Davidson: “I thought a lot about this pair in the following weeks and decided I wanted to create a project showcasing these pets and telling their stories in order to show the world that they are happy, thriving companions. They are not sad, they are not in pain, and the owners and animals continue to be a great value to one another.”
You can view a select number of her photos at MNN Galleries. One of my favorites among Davidson’s photos is of a poodle named Ramen Noodle (what a great name!), who lost both of his front legs in separate accidents before he was 2 years old. He was up and running around on his hind legs just three weeks after losing his second leg. His caption says, “Ramen Noodle has a wheelchair to get around outdoors, but he prefers to walk on his own.” I also really liked Davidson’s photo of a Chihuahua named Diego, who lost his eyesight when he was attacked by a coyote at the age of 5. His caption says, “Diego’s owners introduced him to Buddy Nixon, a pug they’d rescued from a shelter, and today Diego uses Buddy as a seeing-eye dog by following the tapping of his nails.” Davidson believes her subjects have a lot to teach people.
Are you an owner of a specially-abled pet or volunteer to help one? LAA Pet Talk is always looking for inspirational stories to share. Yours could be one of them!