Adopt -A-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week was introduced by PetFinder in 2009 to bring awareness to all of the wonderful, adoptable pets that are unfortunately overlooked due to age, color of fur, medical/physical conditions, or other factors that categorize the pet as “less” adoptable. To raise awareness and promote the adoption of special needs animals, we wanted to share the story and goals of local organization Bialy’s Wellness Foundation.
“ENSURING ALL PETS ENJOY LONG, ACTIVE AND HAPPY LIVES.”
Bialy’s Wellness Foundation, or BWF, financially assists and provides resources to families, rescues, and caretakers of pets with mobility impairments and neurologic congenital abnormalities. Our friend, partner, and founder, Erin, started BWF after caring for her first pet needing specialized care: Bialy. “Bialy was urinary and fecal incontinent and paralyzed in her back legs,” Erin explained, “I found there were not a lot of resources out there to help with her case, so when she passed I found it imperative to start a non profit to help others care for their pets.”
Caring for a mobility impaired pet
We asked Erin to give us the inside scoop on the reality of caring for a mobility impaired pet. She expressed, “Overall, the reward is receiving an unconditional love from the pet you care for and developing a very special bond. The most important thing is to find a routine that works for you and once you get into a routine, it becomes second nature and does get easier. Then, it is so important to find a support system (like your veterinarian, friends, family and organizations like BWF) to help guide you, answer questions you may have, and ask for help because at times it can become demanding, physically and emotionally. I learned that not taking time away from caring for Bialy, and now Josh (@gimmesomejosh), was taking a toll on other areas in my life. Like many caregivers, you get worn out and need to recharge and incorporate healthy self care.”
Erin went on to explain, “Another one of our organizational goals is to help change the perception of pets with mobility impairments. “
So often when we are walking Josh(pictured above) we have people flock to us due to their lack of experience of cart using pets. Most of the time we get comments like,
“Oh, poor guy”
“That’s so sad!!”
“What happened to him?”
“Why is he like that? or
"You're a saint"
The immediate response and connotation is negative, sad and burdensome. We want to change the conversation and perception of pets like Josh. He is an extremely happy dog with an amazing quality of life. There is always another way to look at things and we hope to open everyone's mind and shift attitudes to highlight how extraordinary these pets can be.”
How many pets with special needs/mobility impairments end up in shelters and do they usually get adopted?
“Unfortunately we don't have data on this but we have put together surveys to help us better quantify the need to assist theses families since so many are brought into the shelter system due to financial or physical demands that cannot be met. We have worked locally with the CRISP program to ensure if a pet is being relinquished to Chicago Animal Care and Control that our contact information is passed along to see if our assistance will help keep the pet together with their family. “
“We have started a Forever Friday campaign as well. Special needs animals are often overlooked in the shelter and rescue community due to the added expense and involved care they require. It is important to give every animal a chance at living the best life possible. So our goal with this campaign is to raise awareness and promote the adoption of special needs animals by sharing photos, stories and experiences of other animals who need help finding their forever homes.”
Other than BWF, are there other resources that could help me take care of a special needs pet?
“Absolutely! There are online forums and groups where people can share their experiences with others going through similar situations. Your veterinarian, veterinary specialists, and support staff can be invaluable with sharing their expertise. Many of the businesses that provide supplies and equipment for mobility impaired pets also can be great resources. And of course organizations that focus on helping this population of pets like Bialy's Wellness Foundation can also provide great resources such as:
Wheeling Superheros https://www.wheelingsuperheroes.org/ - wheelchairs
Joey’s Paws https://www.joeyspaw.org/ - wheelchairs & prosthetics
These Dog Days http://www.thesedogdays.com/ - community/share life
Buddy Foundation https://thebuddyfoundation.org/ - surgery for dogs in Maryland
Tripawds Foundation https://tripawds.org/ - specific to amputees
Gunnars Wheels https://www.facebook.com/Gunnars-wheels-1155089164561706/ - wheelchairs
Handicapped Pets Foundation http://hpets.org/ - wheelchairs
Mango on a Mission https://www.mangosfreedomwheels.com/ - wheelchairs
Heaths Haven (ID) http://www.heathshavenrescue.com/ - special needs rescue
Panda Paws (WA) https://www.pandapawsrescue.org/ - special needs rescue
Lovey Loaves (FL) - http://www.loveyloaves.org/ - special needs rescue
Pets with Disabilities (MD) http://www.petswithdisabilities.org/ - special needs rescue
Rolling Dog Farm (NH) https://www.rollingdogfarm.org/ - special needs rescue
SNARR (LA) https://snarranimalrescue.org/home.html - special needs rescue
Lessons from a Paralyzed dog (blog) https://lessonsfromaparalyzeddog.com/ - resources
Wondering how you can get involved?
“Foster, volunteer, donate to an organization that assists pets with mobility impairments. Support the caretakers by offering your time or lending an ear. And never make judgements! We are doing what we can to change the perception and conversation.”
We want to truly thank Erin, Bialy’s Wellness Foundation, and all of those who advocate and promote the adoption of special needs animals. Together, we can make a difference in this population of pets.