Jason Parker and his Black Lab, Gunnar are best friends and hunting buddies. But that bond faced a crucial test when Gunnar was hit by a truck in 2014 and became dependent on a wheelchair.
The generosity Parker experienced during the ordeal inspired him to develop a non-profit organization that provides mobility equipment to other pets in need.
To date, the Gunnar’s Wheels Foundation has helped more than 100 dogs (plus cats, goats, pigs, rabbits, and a pet possum!) get back on their paws – and hooves!
Gunnar’s accident left him with two broken vertebrae and a 50/50 chance of recovering mobility in his hind legs. After $7,000 worth of surgeries, medications and therapies, he was still not walking. Parker told TODAY.com that he and his wife, Stephanie were “tapped out” and unable to spend another $600 to fit Gunnar with a custom wheelchair.
That’s when friends and family stepped up, helping the family raise the money for Gunnar’s new wheels. Parker was so touched by the gesture, he vowed to pay it forward by helping other dogs with injuries like Gunnar’s.
His first chance came last summer when he heard about a paralyzed shelter dog named Hope. She was found injured and terrified beneath a Houston home, unable to use her rear legs. Parker found a used wheelchair on Craigslist and sent it to the shelter caring for Hope.
After 6 months of physical therapy, she no longer needed her chair, and it was sent on to yet another pup in need. The Gunnar’s Wheels Foundation was born!
Check out this video of Hope in action shot just last week by her adoptive mom!
Parker has now shipped nearly 130 wheelchairs across the country to families in need and to shelter pets that may otherwise face euthanasia due to their handicap. The animals use the equipment until they no longer need it, then it is sent back to Gunnar’s Wheels to be redistributed to others.
Parker and Gunnar’s Wheels have raised nearly $70,000 in donations via their GoFundMe page and are now able to purchase brand new chairs for the animals they assist.
Gunnar has unfortunately not regained the use of his hind legs, but that hasn’t stopped him from doing the things he loves! He can even go hunting with his dad again thanks to his wheelchair.
“You just can’t give up on them,” Parker told TODAY. “The animal isn’t going to give up on you. I think it’s up to us to not give up on the animals.”
H/T to TODAY.com
Featured Image via Facebook/Gunnar’s Wheels