Pets with Disabilities is an organization that was founded almost 20 years ago. Founders Joyce and Mike Darrell started the .org to, as Joyce says, to give a voice to millions of dogs who are physically disabled in one form or another. But the cause is not just a website. It has an actual physical location where the Darrell’s take in actual dogs and provide them with either a temporary location for adoption into a forever home or to care for them for the remainder of the dog’s lifetime.
In recent news the organization’s website announced it has sold out a fundraiser held on March 9th. A peek at their “How to Help” link shows you how to make money donations and to attend their fundraisers which are intended to offset the minimum costs of caring for an individual dog, which is between $1000 and $1500. Those who want to help are informed that the expenses can actually be considerably higher.
After reading about the organization through their website, as any normal person would be inclined to do, you get the sense that this cause is not any ordinary cause but has an almost spiritual connection to it. The founders speak of their disabled dogs, and every dog, as being intended for a “higher purpose.” As stated in the storyline of the article, disabled dogs need to have their voices heard, but the connection is that the voice is essential for achieving the dog’s purpose.
How does a dog get considered for acceptance into the Pets with Disabilities family. There clearly is a screening process as their website states that, “Once a dog is accepted at PWD, we make a COMMITMENT to that dog – whatever it takes, for however long they need.” It is clear that the organization cannot take in every dog. In fact, from the evidence on the website there appear to be 20 – 30 people with their faithful disabled friends by their sides who either are helping them or are part of the PWD family. It is also clear that the available resources are limited.
Another important part of the organization is that “Every dog at Pets with Disabilities has FOUND US (we do NOT go looking for dogs).” The founders want to make it clear that without the word getting out about their organization they are not able to even begin considering helping other owners of disabled dogs. Their facility is equipped to house dogs that have one of four major disabilities – blind, deaf, three legged, and dogs that require a physical wheelchair to get around. As you view the pictures you discover a facility that has been prepared to house these disabled dogs better than some middle class homes – but in a much smaller space. Dogs tend not to require a lot of physical space to roam around indoors, and the facility is stretched across three and a half acres. This significant space, according to Joyce, gives the dogs the “free range” space they need for exercise and general comfort.
You will find the aforementioned spiritual connection with the dogs and the organization at the end of their “How to Help” web page as they implore visitors that, “any help you can provide will be assisting a living being on their journey to higher purpose.” Though their current focus is on providing meaningful support for disabled dogs, it is also clear that they would like to expand their cause to many other types of living creatures that have a higher purpose. After being in business for almost 20 years it seems the biggest obstacle in extending their reach is financial.
Back to the acceptance or screening process, it is not exactly clear what the criteria are for any dog to be asked to become a member of the Darrell canine family. One picture has the caption “No Pets Left Behind” but at this point the best information available indicate that dogs are the Darrell’s priority. Again, cost seems to be a major issue in the screening process because despite the fundraisers and the ability to stay financially afloat for the past two decades there are limitations on what dogs can be adequately cared for at the Pets with Disabilities facility. Making it clear that they do not go looking for disabled dogs appears to be more of an issue of cold hard cash rather than a cold, hard heart.