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Importance of Adopting a Special Needs Dog

Special needs pets are loving, compassionate animals and yet many struggle to find their forever home. Often over looked due to their age or medical needs, these amazing animals can wait for up to four times longer to be adopted than the average pet.

Animal Rescues Making a Difference

Sit with Me is an All-Breed Rescue, helping dogs in local shelter systems facing euthanasia. They never discriminate based on age, breed, appearance or health condition. Since opening their doors in 2012, they have helped over 1000 dogs. Many of these dogs affected by breed specific legislation, senior dogs, dogs with special needs and dogs with significant medical challenges. Going above and beyond, the rescue invests in training for their dogs and have developed a comprehensive training program for dogs who require extra support.

sit with me dog rescue

Special Needs Pets Need Love Too!

A special needs pet is not any different than abled dogs when it comes to being a dog. They love just as much, play just as hard and get into just as much mischief. They are first and foremost dogs. Most special needs dogs do not know they are special needs. The only difference is that special needs dogs have certain additional needs that require a little more attention or dedication. They are well worth the effort though!

Fostering a Special Needs Pet

An animal with special needs requires a very special foster home. Foster parents need to be sensitive and committed to the needs of the dog. These needs can be physical, such as post- operative care, administering medication, help getting around, help going to the bathroom etc. It can also be emotional or training support as well. Many special needs dogs have gone through significant trauma and need emotional support as much as physical. The key is to continue to evaluate the needs of the dog and adapt to those needs whether it be through advanced care such as a wheelchair or prosthetic (for disabled dogs) or additional training or even medication for dogs suffering from emotional trauma. Each dog is an individual and their needs are based on the understanding of who they are.

dog wheelchair for paralyzed dog

What You Need to Know about Adopting a Special Needs Dogs

Families looking to adopt a special needs pet need to know that it takes commitment! Owning a special needs dogs is a huge commitment and it needs to be upheld by all people involved in the dogs care. Special needs dogs have often suffered more trauma than others so a stable, committed forever home is crucial. It’s also hard work – so families should know what the responsibilities will look like before adopting so they are well prepared.

Rescues are looking for homes that are compassionate, dedicated and understanding of the dog’s needs. Adopting a special needs dog is not for everyone or every family but it can be for some! The Sit With Me Rescue recommends asking questions!

“We love when families ask questions and want to know about the dog and what the day to day care looks like before committing. We want these adoptions to be successful, so thoughtful applicants are the best! It’s important for everyone to be happy in the adoption including the dog so while one special needs dog may not be the right match, another may. It’s all about making the best placement for the dog and adoptive family.”

Meet Elloise a Rescue Success from Sit with Me Rescue

disabled wheelchair dog rescueElloise (Lolo) is one of many special needs dogs the Sit with Me Rescue has helped since 2012. Like many special needs pets, Elloise took a long time to find her forever family. But now her family can’t imagine life with out her.

The second they saw her ears they knew Elloise was the dog for them! “She has one ear that sticks up, and the other that falls over, and they bounce when she walks! And it turns out it’s a big part of her personality. For us, Lolo has a contagious cheerfulness that spreads with her big dog-smile.”

When Elloise showed that she wanted to play and enjoy life she became an instant family member. Her disability didn’t hold her back from being a dog. Her new family was amazed, and a little humbled, at how little she let her mostly paralyzed hind legs slow her down and keep her from what she wanted. Elliose gets in her Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair and nothing can hold her back! Lolo doesn’t just have a great attitude and temperament, she reminds them all the time to try to do our best with what we have.

A Message from Elloise’s Family

What I’ve learned is that, like any other unfamiliar situation, special needs dogs are only unfamiliar until you meet them. Once you learn about them and their unique qualities, it’s easy to see the value in these dogs. They are dogs first,and have the same need to be part of a family as any dog does. Dogs with special needs may simply let you know this is true in unique ways. There will always be commercial breeding as an option, however special needs dogs already need a family, and the adoption cost is much lower. Also, it’s a reality that many special needs dogs are euthanized simply because they are not adopted. I would strongly encourage anyone to consider a disabled rescue dog, as the dogs are just as deserving and able to be part of a home as any.

Watch the video below to hear more about Elloise’s journey to her forever home:

sit with me dog rescueThank you to the Sit with Me Rescue and Elloise’s family for your contributions to this article. To learn more about the amazing work being done by the Sit with Me Rescue, please visit their website.


German Shepherd dog wheelchair

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  1. Hi, I am thinking of adopting another dog. I feel a calling to adopt a special needs dog. However, I am allergic to dogs that are not hypoallergenic. I wish I could adopt all dogs but I have asthma so I can’t. Please let me know if you have dogs that are hypoallergenic that need fostering or a home. I have just started thinking about this so I know I need more information. Thank you.

    • Hi Stephanie,

      If you are looking to adopt a handicapped pet I would recommend checking out the available dogs on our Care Squad page. Each featured pet is from different rescues around the country, they will be able to help you find a hypoallergenic dog.

  2. Hi i am thinking about getting me a special needs dog because i am a special needs teen because i was born with autism and sharkomarietoothdisease which its a nerve disease

    • That’s wonderful! We love to hear about people that are looking to adopt special needs pets, please let us know if you have any questions!

  3. […] pugs that end up in rescue centers do so because they have special needs that were too much for their previous owners to manage. Others might have experienced trauma and […]

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