The question pet parents ask me most, is how they can get a donated wheelchair for their paralyzed dog. After all dog wheelchairs are pricey. I usually write about these resources as soon as I hear about them, but today I’m excited to introduce a program that puts a spin on getting donated wheelchairs to dogs in need. The program is called Red Flyer, The Loaner Dog Wheelchair Program.
Red Flyer is the brainchild of Harlan Weikle, a retired newspaper reporter in Tampa Bay, and his wife Nancy. Several years ago Nancy started an organization called For Paws Hospice that offers grants to provide veterinary care to low income pet owners. To get more information for the organization, Harlan attended a pet hospice seminar at U.C. Davis and by the time the class was over the idea for Red Flyer was born.
The idea behind Red Flyer is simple; collect used dog wheelchairs and loan them to disabled animals whose families can’t afford to buy one. When the cart is no longer needed, it is returned to Red Flyer.
A dog named Scout was the first recipient of a loaner wheelchair. The paraplegic dog had been surrendered to the city animal shelter and nobody wanted to adopt him. Eddie’s Wheels for Pets donated the cart and Scout went home with Harlan.
Harlan spread the word about the need for more used wheelchairs and people generously responded. Today there are 140 loaner carts helping disabled pets.
“We have 30 that are now overseas in places like Greece, Pakistan and Uganda,” said Harlan.
Some dogs use the wheelchair for several years while others only need it for a short time while they recuperate from an injury. The one requirement is that each cart be returned to Red Flyer or a donation made to cover costs.
If you know a dog that needs a wheelchair, you can apply for loaner by leaving a message on the Red Flyer Facebook page.
To donate a used dog wheelchair, Harlan asks that people also leave a message on the Red Flyer Facebook Page or write for instructions at: P.O. Box 6685, Ozona, FL. 34660.
Harlan would love to see this program duplicated in other cities and he is happy to share his expertise with interested animal rescue groups.
Photo: Red Flyer