When Joyce Darrell and husband Michael Dickerson’s puppy, Duke, broke his back while playing, the couple searched high and low for help on how to care for a paraplegic dog. After finding little to no resources on how to look after a disabled dog, the couple decided to start their own organization to fill the void. In 2000, Pets With Disabilities was born.
The nonprofit organization is aimed at educating owners of dogs with disabilities stemming from birth defects, illness or injury. The organization also rescues disabled animals and gives them a new home at the Pets With Disabilities Sanctuary in Prince Frederick, Md.
Through the years, Pets With Disabilities has come across many heartbreaking and poignant stories, and co-founder Darrell has compiled some of the most inspiring in a new book. In “Extraordinary Dogs: Inspirational Stories of Dogs with Disabilities,” (The Lyons Press, 2007), Darrell introduces 50 disabled dogs who came within inches of death, either through neglect or near euthanasia, only to be rescued and given a second chance at life.
Sweet Pea, an American Pit Bull Terrier mix, was found living in horrendous conditions. Her back legs were paralyzed, and it was clear she had been abused. Jinx, a terrier mix with three legs, was found abandoned on the side of a busy road. Aggie, a blind Labrador Retriever, was found in the middle of a street, huddled next to a dog that had been struck and killed by a car. Emmy Lou, a Beagle, was reduced to using her front two legs after being shot.
But that’s not the end of these dogs’ stories. “Extraordinary Dogs” is just as much a tribute to the brave and determined people who take in these disabled dogs as it is to the dogs themselves.
For more information on Pets With Disabilities, visit www.petswithdisabilities.com