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.
S.N.A.R.R. Special Needs Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation