Striking Portraits of Disabled Pets

PetMD Editorial
Updated: January 22, 2014
Published: September 30, 2011
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With advances in veterinary medicine and a little special care, disabled pets are now capable of leading long, happy, "handi-capable" lives. Even when tasked with extra care, owners of these pets are discovering special places in their hearts for them.

"Often it’s much harder for us as people to get over our prejudices about special needs pets than it is for the animals to get over their disabilities," said AAHA veterinarian, Dr. Robin Downing. "Animals are amazing in their ability to recover and adapt to life with a disability."

Longtime animal photographer, Carli Davidson, has recognized the beauty in these disabled pets and is capturing their images for a book project she hopes to publish soon. Rose Riorden, the owner of a French Bulldog Davidson photographed, said having her dog become paralyzed after a T9 vertebrae injury has not been a hindrance in her life.

"Nowadays pets can lead full, happy lives, with many disabilities that would have prompted people to have them put down in the past," wrote Davidson on her blog.

Photographer and writer Melisa McDaniel also knows how rewarding it is to work with the handi-capable. McDaniel created Deaf Dogs, a photo book featuring 78 deaf pooches from throughout the United States and Canada. Deaf Dogs recently won a bronze medal from the Independent Publisher’s 2011 IPPY book awards, in the "Pets and Animals" category. McDaniel’s ultimate goal is to reach $300,000 through book sales so that she can donate it to animal shelters and rescues.

"I adopted my dog Sadie, who was born deaf, from my local shelter," said McDaniel. "After learning that each year thousands of deaf dogs are put down [just because they are deaf], I knew I had to do something to raise awareness about this so that in the future all dogs like Sadie are given a chance at life."

Through the portraits and biographies of the pups in her book, she hopes to help dispel the myths about deafness in dogs.

No matter the handicap, all pets deserve a loving home. Photo book projects, like the ones by Davidson and McDaniel’s, which bring awareness and funds to the cause of these deserving animals, are a step in the right direction.

Image: Egil Nilsson / via