Celebrated on May 3rd, National Specially-Abled Pets Day brings awareness to the amazing, diverse pets that are waiting to be adopted because they have special needs.
Specially-Abled pets possess a disability, meaning that they may need additional comfort and care from their owners. For example, a dog that has heartworm disease needs a low-energy environment, while a cat that is blind needs a stable and unchanging living space.
What to Consider When Adopting a Pet with Disabilities
All pets are special and deserve safe homes. When adopting a pet with a disability, here are a few things to consider:
- Educate Yourself on Their Disability: Be sure to get a full medical history and list of health requirements when you adopt your pet. Consider the adjustments you’ll need to make in your life to properly care for this animal. For example, do you need to install a ramp to help your pet get around the house or be home at specific times to administer medication?
- Be Patient and Ready to Adjust: Just like with any new pet, a transition period is completely normal. You'll need to find a training method that works best for your pet’s specific condition, and take extra safety precautions to ensure their safety (for example, an additional fence to block off unsafe areas for a blind dog). In many cases, pets with disabilities may have stronger skill sets in certain areas than traditional pets. For example, a dog that's blind may have even better hearing or sense of smell, making them great at nose work activities. As with all pets, every pet with disabilities will have their own personalities and strengths. But with patience, consistency, and a little TLC, a pet with a disability can make a great addition to your home.
- Prepare for Potential Costs: Your new pet may require more vet visits or medication than other pets. Enrolling in a pet insurance plan may help assist with these costs. While most pet insurance brands don’t cover pre-existing conditions, at AKC Pet Insurance, we understand that all pets deserve quality care – no matter the circumstances. Our Accident & Illness plan (underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company) is the first to offer coverage for both curable and incurable conditions*, so that you can provide your pet with the care they need when they’re sick, hurt, and healthy.
4 Ways to Support Pets with Special Needs
If you’re not able to adopt right now, here are 4 other ways to provide support for pets with disabilities:
1. Foster an Animal with Special Needs
If adoption is not right for you at the moment, fostering may be another great option. Many specially-abled dedicated rescue organizations rely on foster families to help as many animals as possible.
There are many reasons to foster a pet, but one of the biggest is that animals do better in homes than they do in shelters – and specially-abled pets are no different. Fostering pets helps potential adopters see animals at their most comfortable, when their personalities can truly shine.
Foster homes are also ideal for specially-abled pets who may need a calmer, lower-energy environment, whether that be for behavioral needs or if they need to recover after surgery.
2. Raise Awareness of Specially-Abled Pets in Need
Raising awareness of specially-abled pets that are up for adoption is one of the most important things you can do as a pet lover.
In fact, publicity for specially-abled pets has changed them from being the most challenging animals to get adopted in shelters to being one of the first pets taken home.
Widespread exposure can be the difference between spending months in a shelter and going home to a forever family. You can raise awareness in a variety of ways:
- Share adoption profiles of specially-abled pets on social media
- Like, follow, and share content posted by special needs rescue organizations
- Share your story online, if you have a specially-abled pet of your own
The more attention these animals get, the better, and whatever way you can shine a light on animals in need will make a difference.
3. Volunteer Your Time at Your Local Shelter or Rescue Organization
Sometimes, donating your time can make an even bigger impact than donating your money. Rescue organizations and shelters are often entirely volunteer-run, and the more hands they can have on deck, the more animals they can help.
Specially-abled pets may require a little extra time and attention than other pets, whether that's due to emotional issues or post-surgery rehabilitation. Because of this, more help is often needed in these organizations to make sure every pet gets the care and attention they deserve.
There are lots of volunteer positions available within many of these organizations, including:
- Cleaning cages, filling food and water bowls, and providing general maintenance for pets
- Taking dogs for walks and playing with the pets
- Helping pets get properly socialized
- Working fundraising events
- Creating social media posts, flyers, and other marketing materials to help shelters raise money
- Receptionist duties
- Adoption coordinators
No matter what special skills you have, there's a chance that an animal shelter or rescue organization near you could use your help. So, give them a call and ask how you can get involved.
4. Donate to Rescue Organizations Helping Specially-Abled Pets
Animal rescues are always in need of monetary donations to help care for the animals and provide them with the supplies and medical attention they need. For rescue organizations that work primarily with specially-abled pets, these medical bills and supply costs can be even more expensive.
Many specially-abled pets require surgery, medical attention, and even special diets, whether that's just to recuperate from their lives on the street or for the rest of their lives. All of these supplies can cost the animal organizations quite a bit of money. No matter how much you can donate, the money will be put to good use and the animals will appreciate it.
*Not available in all states. Pre-existing condition coverage requires a 12-month waiting period.