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Special Needs Pets Need Special Humans

February 7, 2014

Adopting a healthy pet brings with it new responsibilities and can require a tremendous investment of time and money. This becomes even more true when an animal has special physical or emotional needs. Yet some exceptionally caring humans have opened their hearts and homes to animals whose illnesses or disabilities may have made them seem unadoptable.

Take the case of a San Francisco Bay Area woman who decided to provide a foster home for a shelter dog whose leg had been amputated. The pit bull puppy also had a case of cherry eye, a condition in which a dog’s third eyelid is prolapsed, resulting in dry and inflamed tissue. The family already had two dogs, one of them another shelter rescue who was extremely shy, so adopting a third dog didn’t seem warranted at first. But the woman’s husband soon fell in love with their foster “child,” and after eye surgery, the couple took the dog home permanently. The three dogs came to love and trust one another, with the three-legged pit bull even able to draw her shy adoptive sibling out of her shell.

Advocates of adopting special needs pets point out that an animal with a physical disability is no less capable of love than one without disabilities. And there are no guarantees that a healthy kitten or puppy adopted young won’t develop challenging conditions with age. Still, anyone considering taking on the responsibility of a special needs pet should consider the following:

The medical costs can be significantly more than those for an animal without health issues. In addition to veterinary bills, your pet might need specialized therapy or expensive medications on a regular basis. Will this fit into your budget?

Can your lifestyle and home environment accommodate an animal’s special needs?

And, particularly in the case of animals with emotional problems, is the pet a good fit with the entire range of ages and temperaments in your family?

If you think your home might be a good fit for a pet with special needs, talk to your veterinarian or local animal shelter to learn more.


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