This post was updated April 2019.
How to get a donated dog wheelchair for your paraplegic pet is a question many pet owners ask themselves. That’s because they quickly learn a dog wheelchair is the one device that can have the greatest impact on their pet’s quality of life. Wheels give paralyzed dogs the freedom to walk and run like a normal dog. It is the gift every pet parent hopes to give their disabled dog, but for many the price tag of a new cart is out of reach. Wheelchairs can cost $350 for a small rear support cart to more than $600 for a full support quad unit. It is frustrating for owners who desperately want to help their dog, but cannot afford to do so.
The problem led me to do some research and I was surprised to find lots of great resources. This post will direct you to the groups that show owners how to get a donated/ free dog wheelchair.
There are wonderful organizations and individuals that are ready to help you with free carts, donated wheelchairs and loaners. I have written about some of them before on their individual merits, but the time has come to put all of these groups together in one comprehensive list.
Why dog wheelchairs are expensive.
Dog wheelchairs are complicated and a lot of custom work goes into building each new cart. The leading U.S. manufacturers take pride in using durable, but lightweight materials that won’t strain a paralyzed dog’s back. In addition, the majority custom design each cart to meet the physical needs of individual pets. While this attention to detail is admirable, it also drives up the price.
Organizations that donate dog wheelchairs for your paraplegic pet
The groups who offer free donated dog wheelchairs, for the most part, are made up of animal lovers who have or once had a paralyzed dog in their life. They understand the obstacles and took it upon themselves to help others. Each group exists because of the generosity from the public.
Here are the programs you should know:
Red Flyer, The Handicapped Pets Community – This amazing organization is run by one dedicated man named Harlan Weikle. Red Flyer accepts used wheelchair donations, refurbishes them and loans them at no charge to families of handicapped pets in need. Their motto is, “No pet should be alone or without the gift of mobility.” Red Flyer works on the idea that recipients return the cart when their pet no longer needs it. To date they have loaned more than 230 carts. Application instructions can be found in the About tab on the Red Flyer Facebook Page.
Gunnar’s Wheels – Gunnar was a treasured pet who was struck by a truck in 2014. When his owners, Jason and Stephanie Parker, were hit with the cost of Gunnar’s veterinary bills and the price of a dog wheelchair, they started a GoFundMe page to help pay the expenses. The Parker’s were surprised by the generous outpouring of donations they received. When Gunnar was back on his feet, the couple decided to start another GoFundMe page to buy wheelchairs for other handicapped dogs in need. During its first year, Gunnar’s Wheels handed out 40 carts to paraplegic dogs. Every year since, the organization has supplied carts for dogs around the world. Applications can be made on Gunnar’s Wheels GoFundMe Page.
Hailey’s Wheels for Life – This special nonprofit group is based in South Australia, but they grant wheelchairs around the world to individuals and rescue groups. Their vision is, “To encourage an alternative to euthanasia and to prolong the life of an otherwise healthy dog.” Hailey’s Wheels works with Walkin’ Wheels adjustable dog carts. The group is named in honor of a little Westie named Hailey who became paralyzed at the age of 12. Hailey contracted a parasitic disease of the spinal column called Neosporosis. She was a feisty pup who continued to enjoy life with her family until she lost her battle with the disease. Pet parents can apply for a subsidized wheelchair here: Hailey’s Wheels for Life.
Joey’s P.A.W. (Prosthetics and Wheels) – Joey is a dog whose rear legs were intentionally amputated when he was 6 weeks old. His adopted family decided to help other handicapped dogs in need. Joey’s P.A.W. is the only organization that donates funds for custom prosthetics for dogs with amputation and dog wheelchairs for disabled pups. Pet families can apply for assistance by leaving detailed information on Joey’s P.A.W. Contact Us page. Applicants hear back in 24 hours.
Wheeling Superheroes – Inspired by her wheelchair bound dog, Pugly, who was an Instagram star, the founder of this nonprofit decided to give back to other paralyzed dogs. Wheeling Superheroes raises funds to buy brand new dog wheelchairs for pet families who can’t afford one for their canine. Applications need to be completed on the Wheeling Superheroes website. In addition, families are asked to send a letter from their veterinarian about how their dog will benefit from a cart.
Rescued Rollers – The goal of this organization is to supply low-cost pet wheelchairs to individuals who could otherwise not afford them. They donate carts to rescue groups as well. The program works with all of the major manufacturers to get new carts or refurbished wheelchairs to financially stressed families with paralyzed dogs. Many of their carts are donated by private owners who no longer need them. Rescued Rollers gets each gently used wheelchair back into tip-top condition so it can be donated to a pet family in need. Rescued Rollers also educates the public about life with a handicapped pet. Owners can request a cart from this 501c3 charity by completing an online application. Rescued Rollers Application.
Mango on a Mission – Mango is an adorable Cairn terrier who was found on the side of a road with a broken back. The paralyzed pup won the heart of disabled Army veteran Judy Walter when she read how Mango became the first handicapped dog in a program that visited veterans in the hospital. Judy adopted Mango and started a Facebook page to mark her accomplishments. One of Mango’s followers contacted Judy about getting a wheelchair for her own paralyzed dog. Judy asked her followers for help and before she knew it there was enough money for several carts. The informal program has continued to grow. Mango on a Mission purchases new carts from Ruff Rollin Dog Wheelchairs. There is an application available at the bottom of their website: Mango’s Freedom Wheels. Or contact Judy on the Mango on a Mission Facebook page.
CorgiAid Cart Program– This nonprofit organization specializes in helping Corgis and Corgi mixes. They started their cart program because Corgi’s are one of the breeds prone to developing Degenerative Myelopathy. Their supply of dog wheelchairs is loaned to dogs in need. Pet owners must agree to return the cart, at their own expense, when their Corgi no longer needs it. There is also a refundable $50 deposit required and $35 in shipping charges. Applications can be completed at: CorgiAid.
New Wheels to Help Me’ – This dog wheelchair loan program is sponsored by Finding the Cure for DM Foundation. The nonprofit group loans carts in the US and has a separate loaner program for dogs in the UK. The program is designed to get dogs with Degenerative Myelopathy into wheelchairs when their families have a fixed or limited income. They also loan harnesses and boots. Carts are donated by individuals who no longer need them, so availability varies. Recipients pay a flat fee of $75 US for shipping. And once their dog isn’t able to use the wheelchair, pet owners are asked to return it. There’s a two-step application process. First people are directed to measure their dog using the diagram On This Page. And then complete the application form at: Wheels to Help Me’
Dog wheelchair companies that assist families with paralyzed pets
Did you know the majority of dog wheelchair manufacturers have programs for pets in need? Most are unofficial programs where the company hears about a special case and donates a cart to the pet. And other programs exist, but are not advertised unless a pet owner asks. In addition, there are two manufacturers that have rent-to-own programs. K9 Carts and Handicapped Pets each offer this type of plan to make it easier to afford a cart.
Here are more programs pet parents need to know:
Handicapped Pet Foundation – HandicappedPets.com started a nonprofit corporation that donates carts to pets in need. The Foundation is dedicated to extending the life of paralyzed pets and making sure they have the exercise and mobility they need for a happy and long life. Applications can be completed at: Handicapped Pet Foundation.
Eddie’s Wheels Donation Program – This is an unofficial program that Eddie’s Wheels is happy to explain. When people donate a cart back to them, Eddie’s Wheels holds onto the wheelchair for dogs in financial need. If you contact them be prepared to take specific measurements of your dog. Eddie’s Wheels will then do their best to match your pet’s needs to a cart in their inventory. The people at Eddie’s Wheels are perfectionists so they won’t release a cart unless it will work seamlessly for your dog’s height, weight and medical condition. That might mean waiting for the right cart to become available. Eddie’s Wheels will then refurbish the wheelchair for a nominal fee and donate it the family, rescue group and even veterinary practices. Owners are also asked to pay for shipping.
If you have another resource that knows how to get a donated dog wheelchair for your paraplegic pet, please leave it the comment section. I will be happy to add to this list. I would also love to hear if you apply and receive a cart from one of the amazing organizations listed in this story.
Walkin’ Pets has a wide variety of gear for paraplegic pets.