Quite a few pet lovers today are choosing to get a wheelchair for their disabled dogs, giving hope to these animals who would hitherto be abandoned because of their disability.
"Some time ago, Tobo, our Labrador, took ill and doctors detected he was suffering from a vertebral injury that would take time to heal. He is one of our three lovely pets and it was a big blow for us," says Yasmeen Praween, a resident of Hiranandani Meadows in Thane.
It was suggested to the family that the chances of recovery were low and so they should abandon the animal. "We were too attached to Tobo and couldn't do that. So we searched for an option and got him a wheelchair. Now he's doing well," says Praween, who is evidently excited about the dog's progress.
The Thanekar points out that there is very little awareness about wheelchairs for animals. "Yes, there is a big online market for wheelchairs for pets, but you will hardly find anyone making affordable ones in Mumbai," she says.
Dr Shashank Kirkate, a veterinarian, agrees that this facility isn't known enough in India. "There is not much awareness about the wheelchairs and those that are available at a few places are costly. But nowadays people are looking for options and they are prepared to pay for this facility for their pets," says Kirkate.
Pets can suffer serious disability due to degenerative mylopathy, hip dysplasia, paralysis, soreness, spinal and neurological problems that particularly affect the hind legs, requiring additional support.
While the specially-designed wheelchair can help your pet, it would help that the animal has strong fore limbs to use the chair to its advantage. Apparently, only a small percentage of animals reject a wheelchair due to age.
Ankit Sidhu, who also resides in Thane, couldn't get one when one of his pets required it. "After much searching I managed to get one that is adjustable. I will use it for the dog as and when the need arises," says Sidhu. "It is sad that very few people know about this and end up abandoning their pets."
Dr Kirkate says that the wheelchair can be designed according to the needs of the animal. "It can help your pet run about and play again," he says.