Every year on May 3rd, pet advocates and adoption groups around the US celebrate National Specially Abled Pets Day, promoting the adoption of pets that need a little extra TLC.
Millions of animals every year are put down in shelters across the country simply because they have special needs – usually because they are perceived to be cost prohibitive to a new pet parent, or they’re simply deemed “unadoptable.” This annual day calls attention to these pets – that they need loving forever homes just as much as other homeless cats and dogs. It can be a terrific tripod (a pup with three legs) or a kitty who needs to take a daily pill; all these specially abled pets make fantastic companions, regardless of their situation. National Specially-abled Pets Day celebrates these furry heroes and helps educate the public about caring for them.
Founded in 2006, the day was originally called “Disabled Pets Day” when founder Colleen Paige felt that it simply didn’t fit. “The name held too negative a connotation… because 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!”
A specially abled, or handicapped, pet has a physical or mental condition to varying degrees. They can be overlooked because people aren’t clued into their superpowers just yet:
- 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!
If you are willing to open your home and heart to a specially abled pet, you will have to enforce some rules to the humans of the house – keeping hearing-impaired pups leashed when in public, avoiding a seasonal rearranging of your home’s furniture if you adopt a blind pet, etc. But the good parts outweigh any special rules – you’re giving love to a pet who needs it, and if you have children, adopting a specially-abled animal can be a great lesson for them in developing empathy, and most importantly – gaining a wonderful friend.
Your local animal shelter is sure to have a some specially-abled pets available for adoption. If they don’t currently have one and you’re still really interested in providing a home, there might be specialized animal sanctuaries in your area. If you want to help out but don’t have room in your pack right now, consider donating to a charity for specially abled animals in your area!
Do you have a dog with special needs? Rover.com pet walking and sitting is a great resource that could help you with your pet when you’re not home.