Monday, June 01, 2009

Handicappedpets.com featured in The Boston Herald's Blog!


Here is a blog written by Melanie Plenda from the Boston Hearold.com:

It seemed like Trigger got old all at once, said Mary Hunnefield of Brockton. One minute her 12-year-old Labrador-shepherd mix was spry as ever, then he just seemed to wind down like an old toy, fold his legs under him and quit.
“He would just kind of lose control of his hind legs,” said Hunnefield. “When he’d get tired, he’d stop and sort of drag his hind legs behind him. I thought we were going to have to put him down.”
A veterinarian told her Trigger wasn’t in pain, Hunnefield said. But he had arthritis in his back legs that made movement difficult and running and playing impossible. Not wanting to lose Trigger, Hunnefield found she had another option: an affordable wheelchair for dogs.
“He plays, he barks, he rolls over in the grass and scratches his back,” she said. “He does everything with it he used to be able to do. We even built a little ramp for him in front of the house, so he can come in and out.”
Wheelchairs for dogs are not new, said Mark C. Robinson, owner of the Web-based Handicappedpets.com out of Amherst, N.H. But early pooch-mobiles were custom-made, cumbersome and costly.
Robinson has patented a pet wheelchair called Walkin’ Wheels that can fold up, costs less than a custom chair ($399 for a medium-sized dog; $500 for a very large dog) and comes in sizes that can be adjusted to fit dogs from 15 to 250 pounds.
Robinson started the site after his dog developed canine epilepsy and had to be euthanized five years ago. He rapidly found many people needed help caring for handicapped pets.
“It used to be if a pet became handicapped, they were looked at as incurable and should be put down,” he said. “The question to ask is, ‘Is this otherwise healthy dog living a happy, full life?’ If the answer is yes, then there are alternatives to euthanasia.”
His site became a popular forum for people looking for support while caring for disabled pets. Robinson noted the hardship to pet owners because wheelchairs cost a few thousand dollars and required the owner to take more than a dozen precise measurements of the dog.
He decided to create his own version of the wheelchair, putting up an initial investment and enlisting a team of engineers. Robinson and his team have since fitted dogs, ferrets, rabbits and even rats into wheels, and they are developing a wheelchair for cats.
Robinson has started a handicapped pets foundation to help needy families buy wheelchairs.
“This is a way of supporting people who really want to take care of their furry family members,” he said. “They are people who want a few more years of life with their animals. I get the satisfaction of knowing that I’m helping to keep a family together.”
The Handicapped Pets Foundation is a nonprofit. Applications for aid can be made online at http://www.hpets.org/
Mark C. Robinson's comment to the above:

This is Mark C. Robinson, owner of HandicappedPets.com. Just wanted to clarify one of the statements made in the article: Custom wheelchairs, although cumbersome and, originally, very expensive, do not cost thousands -- they cost between $300 and $600; about the same as my Walkin' Wheels. Warm Regards to all and thanks to the Herald for they great work on this article.

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