Joey’s P.A.W. Provides Prosthetics, Wheelchairs to Help Special Needs Dogs
May 31, 2018 08:20PM
By Vanessa Orr
There are many benefits to adopting a rescue dog—unconditional love and companionship, among other things. And while taking in a special needs dog can present more challenges, it can also bring rewards beyond any that you’d expect.
“Little did I know that adopting Joey, a dog with two prosthetic legs, would radically change my life in a big, bold way,” laughed Tanya Diable, who along with husband, Charlie, runs the nonprofit charity Joey’s P.A.W. (Prosthetics and Wheelchairs). “You might be having the worst day possible, and you take a look at this little dog scooting around, doing pretty good, and let me tell you, it puts some perspective in your life.”
Diable’s love for special needs dogs started with Ella Grace, who was paralyzed and in a wheelchair. Though they lost her after only three months to an autoimmune disease, taking care of her piqued the couple’s interest in what they could do for these often hard-to-adopt dogs. To this end, they started Joey’s P.A.W. in order to provide partial or full funds for dogs in need of prosthetics or wheelchairs. They also work to educate people about the horrors of animal abuse, and the joys of owning a special needs pet.
After being severely injured by his owner at the age of six weeks, Joey caught the attention of Merrick Pet Care, who provided funds for his medical care, including providing the three-legged dog with a rear prosthetic leg. The Diables adopted the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever when he was about 1-1/2 years old, and they continue to share his incredible story of recovery today.
“When you see him running, you honestly can’t tell that he’s a tripod with a prosthetic,” said Diable. “Nothing slows him down.” Joey is such a celebrity, in fact, that he has appeared in two stories on The Dodo as well as on Merrick’s online site, and he also has his own Instagram and Facebook pages.
Every morning, Diable scrolls through Facebook looking for dogs in needs of wheelchairs or prosthetics. A lot of individuals and shelters also contact her when they find a dog with special needs. The nonprofit works with Derrick Campana, a veterinarian at Animal Ortho Care in Sterling, VA to provide the care that each animal requires.
“Dr. Campana is an amazing man who has created prosthetics and braces for dogs, cats and birds—he even created a talon for an eagle,” said Diable.
A typical prosthetic can cost between $1,200 and $1,600 and takes about two to three weeks to make. Wheelchairs can cost between $300 and $1,200, and the charity relies completely on donations to make these miracles happen.
“We just started last August, and we’ve already helped provide 30 wheelchairs and one prosthetic,” said Diable, adding that they also work with online companies Handicappedpets.com and BestFriendMobility.com to provide equipment.
Joey’s P.A.W. also partners with local organizations like the Butler County Humane Society to raise money and build awareness, and they most recently teamed up for a May shopping event that featured adoptable dogs from the humane society. Future events include a 5K Run/Walk in September and working with the organization at its Christmas Open House.
The Diables currently have six special needs dogs of their own whose issues include blindness, epilepsy, and a heart condition, as well as the trauma of being mistreated by previous owners.
“In December, we adopted a dog named Boone who was intentionally injured by his owner, and he brought a whole new fire to our bellies to educate people about the horrors of animal abuse,” said Diable. “When we got Joey, he was essentially ‘whole,’—he had healed from his wounds and his mental state was good. Boone was a different story; we saw all of the damage firsthand and it was shocking. People read about abuse in papers and see a little about it on TV, but it’s nothing like being able to actually meet an animal who has been abused and come through it; it is amazing to see their resilience.”
Asked to foster Boone for a short while, the Diables drove to Scranton, PA to pick him up and soon realized that he was never leaving their home. “We are the worst foster failures,” laughed Diable. “We knew we were keeping him within two hours of the drive.”
Boone is in the process of getting a cart and is also being trained as a therapy dog so that he can help spread the Joey’s P.A.W. message. “We’re planning to take him to visit people in the hospital, including kids who may have undergone amputations and paralyzed veterans,” said Diable. “When you see Boone’s face, you can’t help but smile. He brings so much happiness.
“The joy, love and affection that these animals bring to people’s lives is absolutely 100 percent priceless,” she added. “You can’t fake it, you can’t buy it—it’s just pure, absolute joy.”
To learn more about Joey’s P.A.W. as well as adoptable dogs with special needs in search of a forever home, visit www.joeyspaw.org or call 724-591-4728. You can learn more about Joey on Instagram (@joeydiable) and on Facebook, and more about Boone on Instagram at (@a.miracle.named.boone).