Paralyzed Dog Likely Abandoned By Previous Owners Is Looking for Their Loving Forever Family

Penelope the dog became paralyzed later in life due to intervertebral disc disease, but she hasn't let the diagnosis slow her down.

Dog in wheelchair looking for home
Photo: Nina Aguero Rios 

Penelope is ready to add some sunshine to someone's life.

In May, the little dog ended up at an Animal Care Centers of NYC (NYCACC) shelter after being picked up as a stray. Penelope arrived at the shelter with paralyzed back legs.

To better serve special needs animals like Penelope, the NYCACC has the New Hope Program, a "community initiative aimed at finding homes for New York City's homeless animal population, especially those that require specialized medical care or behavior training," according to NYCACC's website. Through this program, no-kill shelters and rescues take in special needs pets from NYCACC's open-admission shelters and provide them with the long-term, specialized care they need to thrive.

Friends with Four Paws is the lucky rescue that ended pulling Penelope from an NYCACC shelter and placing her in their special needs program, inspired by Diana — the paralyzed pup of Friends with Four Paws' vice president, Nina Aguero Rios.

"We just had to pull her," Rios tells PEOPLE about her rescue's reaction to Penelope's story.

Dog in wheelchair looking for home
Nina Aguero Rios 

Friends with Four Paws moved Penelope from the New York City shelter to a foster home. It only took a few days for her foster parent to discover that Penelope is a "sweet" and "people-oriented" pooch.

Because of this, Rios and Friends with Four Paws believe that Penelope was someone's pet before ending up on the street. According to Rios, the 8-year-old canine was likely abandoned after her paralysis developed.

"Likely it is IVDD, which is intervertebral disc disease," Rios says of how vets have diagnosed Penelope's paralysis. "It's where the back just is not strong enough to support the body and gives out."

"They must have dumped her. In our reality, a paralyzed dog does not get lost easily unless you really want it to. So, she was somebody's family dog," she adds of Penelope's past.

Penelope's friendly personality and eager-to-please attitude helped her quickly adapt to using a wheelchair to get around.

"When we fitted her for the wheelchair. It took her, honestly, half a block, and she just went with it," Rios says of Penelope's first walk in her custom wheels.

Dog in wheelchair looking for home
Nina Aguero Rios 

Now, Penelope and her wheelchair are looking forever home. Rios says the dog's foster parent "has nothing bad to say about her."

"Super relaxed and loves to hang out with you on the couch and just chill," the rescue's vice president adds of the pooch's personality.

Penelope gets along with other dogs and children and is ready to show animal lovers how exceptional special needs pets can be.

Dog in wheelchair looking for home
Nina Aguero Rios 

"You adapt to their needs fairly quickly. First off, as long as the dog is not in pain, paralyzed dogs can lead such a wonderful life," Rios shares of caring for a disabled pet, adding that "It's impressive how resilient they are and how sweet they are."

If you think Penelope is the perfect pet for you, or you want to meet other adoptable animals, visit Friends with Four Paws' website.

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