This Christmas, Oso is getting a new set of wheels and hopefully a new family.
Estimated to be 3 to 4 years old and a basset hound mix, Oso was paralyzed from the waist down after being hit by a motorcycle. The impact fractured a vertebra between the thoracic and lumbar spine, which healed improperly, said Nicole Putney, veterinarian for the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region. Though it's difficult to tell how long ago the injury happened, Putney said, Oso is lucky to be alive.
"It's definitely an old fracture, and it's a permanent spinal cord injury," she said. "But he doesn't really even realize he has the injury. He's all muscle up front and you can see he just keeps going."
Oso was transferred to HSPPR from the Noah's Ark Animal Welfare Association in Trinidad. Part of a $5,000 grant from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals covered the costs, through the "Share the Love" rescue ride campaign. Sponsored also by Subaru, the program focuses on transferring animals from overcrowded or remote shelters to locations where they might have a better chance of getting adopted through the holidays, said Katie Borremans, spokesperson for HSPPR.
Oso arrived in Colorado Springs on Wednesday afternoon. Following blood tests, X-rays and plenty of loving attention from the staff, he was fitted for a custom dog wheelchair on Thursday.
"His previous owners constructed a makeshift wheelchair out of PVC pipe and stroller wheels," Putney said. "It's great what they did for him, but we want the best wheelchair possible for Oso."
After an extensive measuring process, Putney and Francesca Anderson, surgery center customer service representative for HSPPR, provided the information to Doggon' Wheels, a custom dog wheelchair provider. Oso's new wheelchair will cost about $400 and will be covered by HSPPR, Borremans said. While this is the first wheelchair dog that HSPPR staff could remember at its facility, Putney said wheelchairs for animals are becoming more common.
Now the search begins for a potential owner who has a great relationship with a veterinarian and either experience with disabled pets or a commitment to caring for Oso. Putney said the biggest challenge is keeping Oso clean from urination and defecation as he has no motor function in his hind end.
"He'll have more challenges than other dogs, but he has a chance," Putney said. "I think with his adventurous personality and being still pretty young, he's got a great shot."
Oso's new owner will have a consultation with HSPPR medical staff and receive training on wheelchair maintenance and how to keep Oso clean. His adoption fee is $130, which includes a voucher for a veterinarian exam, vaccinations, 30 days of pet health insurance, a one-year dog license and a microchip. Oso will be neutered before he is available for adoption.
HSPPR does not have a date set for Oso's availability but is hoping to have him ready later this week, said Gretchen Pressley, communications specialist for HSPPR.
For more information on adopting Oso, visit hsppr.org, call 473-1741 or stop by the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, 610 Abbot Lane.
To give this holiday season to help Oso and other disabled animals in Colorado Springs, visit hsppr.org/donate.