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There’s something magical about special needs animals. Despite all the obstacles they face, the pain they might have gone through and the odds that they’ll even make it, they teach us humans a thing or two about making the best of a bad situation through their admirable determination and resilience. While many people would be quick to write off animals who are born with a disability or have suffered a great physical trauma in an accident, we know that these beings are just as worthy of our care and attention as any other.
Not to mention, these animals show us how a little bit of kindness and compassion on the part of humans can lead to an endless series of amazing events that literally change the world for an animal in need. With the help of a little ingenuity and a whole lot of hope, people have been able to do some pretty fantastic things for animals. As Green Monsters, there is nothing that we love more than the story of people going an extra mile (or two or one hundred) to lend a hand to another living being.
Here are some of the most adorable animals, whether wild, farm, or companion, who have pulled through their illnesses and injuries with the help of some awesome people to teach and inspire us to just keep swimming (swimming, swimming … well you get the picture!).
1. Dudley the Disabled Cow
This disabled cow got a new lease on life after being rescued by The Gentle Barn in Santa Clarita, California. Dudley was living on a cattle ranch when he got one of his hooves stuck in a long string of bailing twine, which cut off the circulation to his foot and caused it to fall off. The cattle rancher took pity on Dudley and after caring for him as much as he could, sent him to The Gentle Barn to live out his life in good health under people who would take good care of him. Dudley now has a prosthetic foot, made for him by a fellow (human) amputee who lost his leg in a car accident 40 years ago. The lucky cow lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, close to University of Tennessee’s Large Animal Hospital where he undergoes therapy, including walking on an underwater treadmill and acupuncture (which he reportedly loves!).
2. Lil Bub the Perma-Kitten
Bub is arguably one of the cutest cats on the web. Found with the rest of her litter in an Indiana tool shed, Lil Bub was clearly the runt and required some special care from the humans who found her. She was born with several genetic deformities, including dwarfism, an overbite, and extra toes. She also never grew any teeth, so that cute little pink tongue of hers hangs out all the time. At about one-year-old, Bub was diagnosed with osteoporosis but has undergone Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy, allowing her to have her mobility back.
Shortly after she was found with her litter, she was adopted by a very loving dad and has quite the social media presence. She now can count a talk show, a book and a fundraising campaign for the ASPCA among her many accomplishments.
3. Kenny the White Tiger With Down Syndrome
Kenny, a white tiger who suffered from Down Syndrome, passed away in 2008, but his story has sparked a very important discussion about the ethics of exotic animal breeding industry.
White tigers are extremely rare and almost never exist in the wild because they are the product of a specific genetic defect that can only be replicated by inbreeding. The same gene that causes the tiger’s coat to appear as white also causes the optic nerve to be wired to the wrong side of the brain, leading all white tigers to be cross-eyed and suffer from a number of other deformities.
Kenny was “selectively inbred” by a private breeder in the U.S. His parents were a brother and sister and both carried the recessive gene for whiteness. Unfortunately, this meant that Kenny acquired double recessive genes from them, causing him to have multiple developmental defects, including Down’s Syndrome. He is believed to be the first documented tiger to be born with this disorder, but sadly, as more private breeders continue to “produce” these animals, he is not likely to be the last.
Although Kenny isn’t with us any longer, his adorable face continues to draw attention to the greed of the wildlife breeding industry and hopefully as more learn of his plight, they will be inspired to put an end to this cruelty.
4. Oskar the Blind Cat
Oskar the Blind Cat is one very special dude. While he was born with microphthalmia, which prevented his eyes from growing and developing properly, but he is a very adventurous cat nonetheless.
After his guardians uploaded a video of Oskar playing with a stream of air from their hair dryer, he became internet famous in 2011 and won First Prize at The Friskies Awards the next year! Since then, he has developed quite the social media following and has lots of adorable videos on YouTube.
He lives with his humans and his feline brother Klaus in Seattle, living the life and documenting all his adventures on social media, showing the world that special needs animals can have just as much fun as any other!
5. Oscar the Bionic Cat
Not to be confused with Oskar the Blind Cat, Oscar the Bionic Cat lost both of his hind legs in a combine harvester accident in a field near his home in Channel Island, New Jersey. After being found and rushed to the veterinarian, it was recommended that Oskar should go to the United Kingdom to neuro-orthopedic surgery to fit leg implants into what was left of Oscar’s hind legs. The surgery was the first of its kind, and successfully gave Oscar his mobility back. He now spends his days running, jumping, playing and being the star of news reports all over the world.
6. Sheba the Elbow-Walking Pup
This sweet dog, Sheba, was rescued by a high-kill animal shelter in the South. She was born with a congenital defect that affected her ability to walk on her front paws. Thankfully, Sheba was discovered by Jackie O’Sullivan and Stacey Silverstein, the owners of Rescue Dogs Rock in New York City. These kind women were able to organize to have Sheba rescued from this shelter, where she would have likely been euthanized and transferred up to New York where she would be able to get the extensive help that she needed. Jackie and Stacey are now working to get Sheba splints for her front legs to help her relearn how to walk on her front paws.
Green Monsters, do you have a favorite special needs animal that inspires you? Share their stories in the comments!
Lead image source: Lil Bub/Facebook