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Utah dog owner raising awareness about the joy of owning a disabled pet

Posted at 7:34 AM, Sep 25, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — A dog owner is hoping to raise awareness for disabled pets.

Debi Wakins is the proud owner of Luna, a dog with a spine disease that caused her two hind legs to become paralyzed.

Now, Luna gets around courtesy of a wheelchair.

“She is happy and fun and loves everything about life,” Watkins said. “We walk and everybody just smiles at her.”

Debi wouldn’t change anything about Luna.

She rescued her from a shelter in 2021 and their bond has been life-changing.

“She’s the light of everybody's life that meets her,” Watkins said.

Luna’s story isn’t uncommon.

Shelters including Salt Lake County Animal Services often take in animals with broken or amputated limbs or animals who have lost the ability to see, hear, or walk.

Staff at the shelter help those animals work through those challenges.

“They come in scared of the big unknown and helping them adjust to the environment and watching them get adopted is rewarding,” said Cori Hedelius, an animal care specialist at Salt Lake County Animal Services.

Staff at the shelter rehabilitate those animals and find the right families that are willing and able to meet the pet’s needs.

“We don’t give up on them,” Hedelius said.

Debi believes owning a disabled pet is rewarding and her Luna is a perfect example that pets with different abilities deserve a chance.

“On occasion, we get a child that says, ‘poor dog.’ We say, ‘she’s not a poor dog, look at how happy she is,’” she described.

As Luna continues to get attention with her infectious smile and playful personality, Debi hopes she is helping deliver a message that even though everyone has different abilities, everyone has the ability to make a difference.

“I hope that transfers in their life to humans, that a child in a wheelchair or an adult in a wheelchair is not a poor human, they can also live a full life,” Watkins said.

Click here to see a list of adoptable pets at Salt Lake County Animal Services.