Second Chance: Helping Disabled Pets!

Second Chance: Helping Disabled Pets!

Second Chance Humane Society’s Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops have been serving San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties for 27 years. Call 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the Emergency Response, Community Medical, Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, or other services. View shelter pets and services online:

Go here for more options from Second Chance.

In the human world, there are entire fields of research dedicated to making mobility and communication easier for those who have challenges. From titanium prosthetic limbs to technology that helps hearing impaired people, it’s a dynamic and ever-changing world.

People have long been helping disabled pets to live longer, more engaged, and active lives. Many deaf dogs and cats are trained with sign language and visual cues. We’ve all seen heartwarming videos of dogs using wheelchairs. And, what about pet siblings taking on the role of “seeing eye dog” for a visually impaired pet?

Life-enhancing creativity for disabled pets is nothing new, but now there are so many resources and support options for those who are helping.

Mark Robinson has a website called Walkin’ Pets, that offers not only a community, but also a large array of products that help dogs and other animals overcome a number of different types of disabilities. Walkin’ Pets’ mission statement is “We believe that pets are family and that elderly, disabled and handicapped pets deserve to live a happy, healthy life.” (More at

There is a nonprofit foundation that helps those who cannot afford to purchase mobility aids by donating wheelchairs:

Deaf pets used to be labeled as untrainable. Many ended up in shelters with little hope of finding a forever family. Now, deafness is becoming a very manageable disability in the pet world. Petfinder says:

“Deafness in animals can be congenital (inherited from birth) or acquired through trauma, drug reactions, or old age. Deafness is more common in white animals, though any animal can be deaf. They can be taught sign language commands and are fully trainable. The only real caveat in adopting a deaf pet is that they should never be allowed to roam freely outdoors unless they are in a securely fenced enclosure, since they cannot hear cars or other dangers approaching.”

One online community and resource specifically for families with deaf dogs is

Visually impaired cats and dogs are wonderful, loveable companions for many. The considerations and accommodations can range from always keeping the pet inside to fitting them with a halo to prevent collisions with walls and furniture. Some recommendations include: Help a blind pet navigate the environment through other senses by using scent markers – vanilla essential oil by the door or lavender oil by pet beds. Tactile markers (like textured mats beneath food and water bowls and in front of litter boxes) are another type of navigation aid.

Not that long ago, if a pet had a disability, euthanasia was a common outcome, often because of concerns for the animal’s quality of life. It was assumed that a disability would result in insurmountable challenges for the pet and the family. Fortunately, understanding of how to keep pets comfortable and engaged when facing mobility or sensory challenges has evolved and many of these pets are enjoying long and loving lives, as they so deserve.

Sometimes a wonderful pet gets overlooked, even without a disability. My name is Lenny. I am an 8-month-old male tabby cat. I’ve been at Second Chance since May of 2021 and unfortunately, I’ve grown up here at the shelter. I enjoy my cat friends and would probably get along with a dog friend if properly introduced. What I really wish for is a human family.

AND… To continue the new Second Chance Highlights section we wanted to share the following:

Valentine Love Stories

Second Chance posted a request on our social media last week asking: “Did you find LOVE at Second Chance Humane Society? Email us your story and a photo!” The response was a true testament to the work we do and the people we reach.

The submissions were all different, all genuine, all enthusiastic. As we read them and started to organize the stories, we realized we had a serendipitous group of love stories. Incredibly (and luckily), each of them highlighted a different aspect of our work connecting pets and people in a true and heartfelt way.

• Jane and Willa’s story featured the adoption of a reservation dog
• Dwayne, Kim, and Misty met and fell in love at an adoption event at Chow Down
• Brad, Rose, and Huck shared how a pet can bring joy to an entire neighborhood (even the trash truck drivers)
• Adopting a senior pet was highlighted in Linda and Cody’s love story
• Braeden and Kizzy showed how strong a pet/child bond can be
• Laurie shared stories of her two Second Chance dogs. Her fluffy white Pearl is a puppy mill rescue
• Don and Jeannie shared their love story with Zena and Gabi- showing how some of our families are repeat adopters
• Terri and Ranger’s story was a great example of a dog finding the perfect home working on a ranch
• Finally, Matt, Lindsay and Osito’s story started with a foster home and included Osito participating in both their
proposal and wedding

Honestly, we couldn’t have asked for a more complete group of stories. Each one demonstrated a goal for our work here at Second Chance. We are so grateful for our community.

Ivy Holgate Fife, New Marketing Manager


Ivy is excited to join Second Chance in the newly created role of Marketing Manager. Originally from the Roaring Fork Valley, she has always loved animals of all kinds.

Ivy started her career in creative product development for Hallmark Cards in Kansas City. She and her family came back to Colorado in 2004. Her most recent experience was as Marketing Manager with Colorado Yurt Company.

Ivy is an artist and writer, with a passion for telling stories. She lives in Montrose with her husband and has three grown daughters. She enjoys camping, hiking, reading and traveling.

We are excited to have Ivy join our Team and keep us connected with you!

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