Do you know there are special needs dog rescue groups in nearly every U.S. state? I started making a directory a few years ago after pet owners emailed me with questions about them.
People would ask how to adopt a disabled pet or they wanted to know where they could donate a deceased dog’s belongings. The list came in handy to direct them to a group close to where they lived.
My goal now is to share the state-by-state directory so more pets can find a loving home.
Most of the special needs dog rescue groups are small volunteer-based nonprofits. And many focus on one specific type of disability like paralysis, blind or deaf pets and senior dogs. My list contains the names of organizations that rehabilitate and rehome dogs with mobility problems or find new families for sweet senior pups.
These amazing groups give dogs who would otherwise be considered unadoptable at a city shelter, a chance to receive medical care, adapt to life with their disability and be adopted.
According to the ASPCA, an estimated 6.3 million companion animals enter U.S. shelters every year. In a municipal shelter where they are required to take custody of every homeless pet, dogs with disabilities don’t receive much attention.
We rely on the special needs rescue groups to give them a second chance.
Why disabled dogs are surrendered
There are many reasons that land special needs pets in animal shelters, but most of them fall into 3 categories: money, time and confidence. If you’re thinking about adopting a disabled dog, you can use these categories as a checklist to see if you’re prepared for the endeavor.
It’s not just a matter of putting a pup into a dog wheelchair and life returns to normal.
Here are points to consider:
Do you have the financial resources to care for a special needs animal?
Tests like MRIs or spinal surgeries are costly, if your vet prescribes them.
Many dogs require ongoing physical therapy, hydrotherapy and laser therapy that have fees involved.
Dog wheelchairs can cost hundreds of dollars, especially for large dogs.
Do you have the time to physically take care of a disabled dog?
Most paralyzed dogs are also incontinent. That means they need to have their bladder manually expressed 2-4 times a day or they might have to wear a diaper that requires regular changing.
Rehab and vet appointments can eat into your time for other commitments, as well.
Dogs should not stay in a dog wheelchair 24 hours a day. Do you have the time to put them into their cart, supervise their exercise and then help them out of their wheels to rest?
How confident are you about learning to be a caretaker?
The first weeks of taking care of a paralyzed dog are filled with angst and worry. It’s normal to be overwhelmed as you learn the skills to be a caretaker. But the job isn’t for everyone. Pet owners should ask themselves if they have the resilience to move forward.
Your dog will look to you to lead the way. If you are confident, your pet will be too.
About the directory
Below are special needs rescue groups listed by state along. To reach an organization, click on the words highlighted in purple and it will take you to contact page for each group. Because some states do not have a dedicated organization, you’ll also see listings, highlighted with an *. These are municipal or private no-kill shelters that provide medical care for pets in their custody.
I’ve also started to include a list of rescue groups in Canada who focus on dogs with disabilities. You can find the first entry at the end of this post.
If you know of a rescue group not listed, please leave their name and website address in the comments section. They will be added to the directory if they meet the criteria.
The State-By-State Special Needs Dog Rescue Group Directory
Mayday Pit Bull Rescue & Advocacy – This group may love Pitbull’s, but they also rehabilitate dogs with paralysis and other mobility problems.
A Purposeful Life Animal Rescue
*First State Animal Center and SPCA
Journey’s End Animal Sanctuary
Young At Heart Senior Pet Adoptions
S.N.A.R.R. Special Needs Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation
*Capital Area Animal Welfare Society
Senior Dog Retirement Home Rescue
*East Mississippi Animal Rescue
*Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter
*Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter
Scoot to the Stars – Reno
Henry’s House Rescue – via Instagram
*Sunflower Sanctuary Animal Rescue
*Mid-Ohio Animal Welfare League
*Oklahoma Alliance for Animals
*Providence Animal Rescue League
*Little Victories Animal Rescue
One Starfish Rehoming Connections
*Kindness Ranch Animal Sanctuary
Canadian Special Needs Rescue Groups
Special Needs Animal Rescue League (SNARL)
Rescue Friends Animal Foundation
Rescuers Without Borders – Based in Houston, TX, this group rescues disabled dogs in the U.S.A. and in countries overseas.
Looking for more information?
Organizations That Donate Dog Wheelchair To Pet Families
9 Dog Physical Therapy Exercises To Do At Home
The Amazing Normal Life of A Disabled Dog
Diandra E Sanphy
I am looking for help with a sweet young female dog in Mission, Texas. She was found on the side of the road lying in a slight ditch. She is paralyzed in her rear hind legs, but is very spry and injury maybe older. I am in NH, and am the Executive Director for US Animal Alliance, Inc., a subsidiary of North of Boston Animal Rescue and Humane Education Society, Inc. While we are unable to take her here, as we do not know the extent of her injuries, we would like to help secure her rescue. Please contact me either way, if you can help or are unable to. She cannot stay with the woman who took her to get her cleaned up and to a vet tomorrow. Please call at 603 918 7191 my name is Diandra Sanphy we are in EST. Thank you very much and I can send photos and video if you’d like.
Diandra, My website is not a rescue group. Your comment is linked to a post I wrote that lists special needs rescue groups throughout the U.S.
Here’s the link: https://dogwheelchairlife.com/special-needs-dog-rescue-groups/
You can start by calling some of the bigger groups such as SNARR at https://snarrnortheast.org or contact Wild Hearts https://gowildhearts.org
Are you aware of fosters/rescues that will take care of disabled dogs in the SoCal area, or beyond?
I am so glad I found you!
I am a professional dog trainer and sitter. I had a client abandoned his dog with me 2+ years ago.
He is a 10 y/o neutered Korean Jindo dog. In the last year he has become 100% incontinent and unable to use his backlegs at all. He needs more time and care than I can provide. can you take Rocky?
Kyle, I hope you had a chance to look through my article Special Needs Dog Rescue Groups. It lists the groups who rescue and adopt dogs with physical handicaps. That said I recommend that you start with Marley’s Mutts as they are one of the larger rescue groups. Best wishes, Sharon