This story is the third installment in my mission to find affordable resources for dog wheelchairs (dog carts). I started this project when I realized finding inexpensive carts for paralyzed dogs was the number one question asked on Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog. So far I’ve told readers about the dog wheelchair rental program from K9 Carts and how Roll’n Pups guides pet parents through the process of building their own custom cart.
This time I’m thrilled to share a source that supplies free wheelchairs to disabled dogs in need. It’s a powerful online community you might have heard about because of the outstanding work the founder has done in a very short amount of time. The group is called Mango on a Mission and I was lucky enough to interview Judy Walter who is the driving force behind this successful community of nearly 16,000 animal lovers.
Judy is a retired veteran who served in the Army, but had to leave early due to a disability. In April 2014 she came across Emma’s Rescue group while surfing the Internet and read about their program that was rehabilitating homeless dogs with handicaps so they could visit veterans in hospitals. Mango was the first dog entered into the program.
Mango is a Cairn terrier who was found on the side of the road in a ditch in Fort Worth, TX. She had a broken back and pelvis that left her hind end paralyzed. She was picked up by animal control and taken to the municipal animal shelter where she was scheduled to be euthanized until Emma’s Rescue came to save her.
“I saw Mango’s picture and fell in love with her,” said Judy. “I felt like we had something in common with our disabilities and I liked the idea of her working with injured veterans.”
Judy also joked that she had “time on her hands” so she decided to adopt Mango. She never could have guessed how that decision would change both of their lives and turn Judy’s leisurely retirement into a 24/7 labor of love. Today Judy says she barely has time to open Mango’s mail.
Mango trained to be a therapy dog and was the first dog in a wheelchair to pass the test and get a license to work with veterans. She and Judy went to nursing homes, hospitals and physical therapy clinics. They went wherever a veteran needed their help.
To mark each of Mango’s accomplishments Judy started a small Facebook page called Mango on a Mission. That Facebook page didn’t stay small for long as Mango gained attention for her work. The little dog was even recognized by New Mexico State University for her work with veterans.
In October 2014 one of Mango’s followers contacted Judy about her own paralyzed Chihuahua named Cindy. The family was on a fixed income and wanted to know how Mango got her cart because they couldn’t afford to buy one for their dog.
“I couldn’t get the image of this 5lb. little paralyzed dog out of my mind,” said Judy. “I knew there had to be a way to raise funds for this family.”
The next day Judy contacted Ruff Rollin, the dog wheelchair company that made Mango’s cart and asked if they would take credit card payments over the phone. She thought maybe individuals would be interested in making a partial payment of a cart for Cindy.
“Ruff Rollin agreed, but I had to beg Cindy’s proud family to go along with the plan. They didn’t want a handout,” said Judy.
Judy put together a fun ad on Mango’s Facebook page saying they were collecting for the cart and gave people five days to contact Ruff Rollin with a donation. The campaign started on 9:30am the following morning and by 2:30pm, Ruff Rollin was calling Judy for help because their phone wouldn’t stop ringing. They raised the funds for Cindy’s wheelchair in a matter of hours. People wanted to donate to a dog in need. It made Judy wonder if she was on to something.
Judy created a separate website called Mango’s Freedom Wheels and her goal was to get donations for 12 carts over the course of a year. Mango’s community raised funds for 12 carts in the first month and by their anniversary in October 2015, 100 dog wheelchairs had been donated.
“To date we have never turned down a pet in need. We get donations regularly from supporters and we raise funds by selling merchandise on our site.”
Judy personally reviews each of the 5 to 10 requests that come every day to Mango’s Facebook page or on Mango’s Freedom Wheels website, where there is an application form. She talks to every family about their need for a dog cart, the best type of cart for their pet and answers their questions. She works 8 hours a day screening applications. And once approved Judy oversees the entire process of getting that cart to a dog.
“Pets are like our children. This is very emotional for their families and I don’t want them to worry.”
Judy said it takes 10 to 14 days for dogs to get their carts once they are approved and have given measurements to Ruff Rollin.
You might think Mango has accomplished all she can, but she and Judy have big plans for the future. Mango will be entering the American Hero Dog Contest so more people can learn about her work. Last year she was a finalist. In addition, Mango still works as a certified therapy dog and she loves spending time with her 4 Yorkie sisters and African Grey parrot.
I keep saying this, but I’ve met some incredible people since I started Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog and Judy Walters rates up at the top of the list. Mango’s Freedom Wheels is ingenious and I sincerely hope it continues to grow and be successful.
Here are other organizations that donate dog wheelchairs:
Our next story will share information about:
Photos: Mango on a Mission