Animals take life as it comes, meeting each challenge with a brave face. To ordinary humans, sometimes those challenges may seem insurmountable. And then you have people like Cheri Wells, an extraordinary human, who takes physically challenged dogs under her wings at LoveyLoaves Rescue & Sanctuary, in Central Florida, and helps them get back on their paws.
When they come to her, these dogs may have been living with debilitating injuries for weeks, months, even years. Even something so simple as going for a walk may have been an overwhelming obstacle for that animal. Sometimes the injury is from a recent accident, a fall off a couch or being hit by a car. Other dogs may have developed spinal column issues. Strokes, paralysis, the list of the conditions they have when arriving at the Rescue is endless.
One of their dogs you may recognize from Facebook posts. Her name is Molly. She’s a two-year-old Cocker Spaniel who was surrendered by her owners to Miami Dade Animal Services. What made this story so tragic, and caught the eye of animal advocates everywhere, was that Molly’s family took her cart away from her when she was surrendered to the shelter!
Molly is one of many dogs Ms. Wells and her husband, Ward, have assisted and taken in over several years. According to their Facebook page,
“Amputees, blind/deaf, medically complex, carted dogs, those suffering from disease, illness, injury, or disorder…all find solace and safety within the rescue.”
When the dogs are rehabilitated, find new homes and exit through the doors of the Rescue, they may be leaving on four paws, three, two or rolling out on a spiffy assistance cart. But their desire to feel safe and loved is equal, no matter how many of their feet are touching the ground.
Ms. Wells, as Founder and Executive Chairman of LoveyLoaves, a 501(c)(3), is devoted to these “specially-abled” dogs, some of whom come to her as strays, some from shelters, others as owner surrenders. The chance that any of them would have had successful outcomes at a shelter is very slim. Shelters simply don’t have the resources to assist in special cases like these, so they will reach out to rescues. Because LoveyLoaves exists, and because there are donors willing to help shoulder some of the rehab expenses, these dogs get their second chance for a second life.
Since their inception in 2011, they have adopted out many ‘wheelie’ dogs into loving homes. Currently there are eight ‘wheelies’ within the rescue; three are available for adoption. Some of the wheelies Cheri simply couldn’t give up, and they have become part of her sanctuary family. All of the dogs pictured in this story are with LoveyLoaves, and are available for adoption. Check them out here! Here’s Sassy’s video to see how the ‘wheelie’ program succeeds!
Ms. Wells tells Shelter Me that there are “no special requirements to adopt except to a have a big heart, the patience to hold them dear until the end of their days and the willingness to learn how to care for them properly. These special homes are out there….it’s just in the timing for the dog and the family!”
Helping special needs dogs who come directly into their rescue is just one of the ways they help pets in their community. In March of 2016, they partnered with Orange County Animal Services, in Orlando, to help increase the adoptability of heartworm positive dogs in that shelter. Many wonderful shelter dogs are overlooked because of the costs involved in treating heartworm; treatment costs can range between $300 and $600, and higher. One in ten dogs who come into OCAS test positive for heartworm. Left untreated, heartworm will kill a dog.
The program they designed, called Healing Hearts, offers adopters and rescues the opportunity to take in a pre-screened dog and have the cost of their heartworm treatment fully covered by LoveyLoaves. The OCAS dogs who have been chosen for the program are designated as such on their OCnetpets web page, which is available here.
There are guidelines for the program, which are available here. You’ll see that Healing Hearts can be implemented by any well-functioning shelter. The program has a 75% success rate with OCAS, proving that, if managed correctly, it can be very successful in saving an animal’s life. However, it does take a commitment on the part of the adopter to follow through on their promise to that animal. The same promise that everyone should make, and keep, when they take an animal into their home. To give that animal the best possible life they can, for its entire lifetime.
If you’d like to learn more about LoveyLoaves, or would like to help them build a permanent 17-acre sanctuary to take in more of these ‘specially-abled’ dogs, which is their dream goal, please click here. To see their adoptables, please click here! Think Pawsitive!