Just last week, pet adoption groups around the country celebrated National Specially-abled Pets Day, promoting the adoption of pets that just need a little extra TLC.
As a pet parent, you probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the millions of handicapped animals up for adoption. However, about a quarter of the nearly four million animals per year put down in shelters are disabled. These pets are often passed up for currently healthy dogs and cats. It’s important to consider choosing a disabled pet though because they often need very little extra attention (maybe it’s a cat that just needs to take a daily pill or a dog missing a leg who can still train for a 5k with you).
A disabled, or handicapped pet, is one that has a physical or mental disability to varying degrees. Three-legged dogs and one-eyed cats are still animals that need a safe home and an adoring owner. Unfortunately, they are often overlooked because people don’t recognize their special abilities.
- Vision–impaired pets have extremely developed senses of smell, hearing, and touch that help guide them around their environment.
- Dogs that are hearing-impaired can still respond to sign language commands. As an added benefit, they bark less, too!
- Animals missing legs are just as playful and energetic as those with all four paws, if not more so.
Pets that are specially-abled are often abandoned or released to adoption groups for many reasons. Sometimes their parents just couldn’t afford another vet visit or some prescription pills. (Make sure this never happens to you and your current pet, by enrolling with Healthy Paws Pet Insurance.)
If you are willing to open your home and heart to a disabled pet, just keep in mind the ways that you’ll be able to work with their special abilities. Hearing-impaired animals should be kept on a leash at all times outside your home (this applies to Beagles too – specially-abled or not!). In homes with a blind cat or dog, pet parents should avoid moving furniture too often too. And if you have children, adopting a specially-abled animal can be a great lesson for them in interacting with a special pet.
Your local animal shelter is sure to have some specially-abled pets available for adoption. If they don’t right now, and you’re really interested in providing a great home for one, a specialized animal sanctuary in your area is a good option. If you want to help out but don’t have room in your pack right now, consider donating to a charity for handicapped animals in your area!