Obtaining a pet wheelchair is difficult in the Balkans - an impoverished region with a bad record for caring for the disabled - both humans and pets. There are no local producers of the devices, and getting one from a European producer is practically impossible for most people due to the expense. Worse yet, due to the overwhelming problem of stray dogs in the area, instead of helping disabled pets, authorities normally just put the animals down.
However, Dragan Dimitrijevic didn't want a spinal injury to stop his beloved dog, Mica, even though buying a pet wheelchair wasn't an option in his native Serbia. According to the Milwaulkee Journal Sentinel, he just devised a homemade one for his pet, and Mica is back on her feet again, playing with other dogs in the park.
Dimitrijevic constructed the wheelchair from used parts – small wheels, plastic pipes, and old belts – but it worked, enabling Mica to be mobile again after her injury.
"I have a soft spot for dogs," Dimitrijevic told the Associated Press. "A wheelchair is not a cure, but it enables them to run, sniff, do all the things other dogs normally do."
A pet wheelchair is also beneficial because it allows the animals to get exercise and prevent further injuries, according to veterinarian Dragan Bacic.
Since he began making the homemade wheelchairs over a little over three years ago, Dimitrijevic has provided them for about 80 grateful pet owners in Serbia and other Balkan countries. The wheelchairs have given mobility back to many disabled pets, both dogs and cats.
Dimitrijevic says that the wheelchairs are made with the assistance of veterinarians, and adapted to fit each pet for their specific injury.
Milce Cankovic Kadejevic's dog is one of the pets saved by the homemade wheelchair. After her dachshund, Bak, had a spinal disk injury several years ago, she was told that nothing could be done but to euthanize her pet. She heard about the pet wheelchairs Dimitrijevic was making and chose to try one of those, instead of putting her cherished dog down.
"This wheelchair has allowed Bak to live normally, to run and play," she says. "He doesn't even know he has a problem!"
Dimitrijevic says that making the chairs and seeing the mobility they give back to injured pets is a rewarding experience.
"There is nothing like a dog rushing toward its friends or owner. So happy!"
Dimitrijecvic agrees with pet lovers everywhere that a disabled or injured pet is still worth keeping, as shown in this Inquisitr story about a disabled dog that saved his owner's life.
[Images via Christopher Furlong/Getty Images and Associated Press]