Shannon Ryan was scrolling on Facebook when she saw a request within a private group for volunteers and fosters of the rescue Pitties Love Peace. The rescue group was searching for someone to foster a 6-week-old pup named Jimmy. Shannon instantly said yes.
It didn’t matter that he couldn’t move his back legs and that nobody knew why. She didn’t care that he had to wear diapers. One look at his tiny, adorable face, and she was sold.
Jimmy first came to Pitties Love Peace when he was only six weeks old and he was surrendered by his breeder. Pitties Love Peace is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of Pit Bulls.
Originally, they were unsure why his back legs wouldn’t work, but after multiple orthopedic and neurology consults and several MRI’s, experts concluded that Jimmy will remain permanently paralyzed. His birth defects, which leave him with little feeling in his legs and toes, make it impossible for him to walk on his hind legs. His spine has a severe curvature and is twisted like a corkscrew.
There’s no spinal surgery that can help Jimmy, so he will likely always remain a special needs dog who wears diapers and uses a wheelchair. So everyone began brainstorming what they could do to help his mobility. It was then that a volunteer came across a call for proposals for Elizabethtown College’s Community Based Projects’ engineering course. The project pairs students with non-profit organizations.
“I think the students found it really fun and were motivated in a way by this project that wouldn’t normally be with their coursework. I think it was very rewarding for them to be able to use their skill sets and then see it make a difference,” says Brenda Daily, an associate professor of engineering at Elizabethtown College.
When the college students saw Jimmy’s sweet face, they too fell instantly in love and immediately accepted his proposal for a wheelchair. So a group of five Elizabethtown College engineering students set out to design a custom cart for Jimmy so he could finally feel the freedom of more mobility. It took many months and multiple meetings, but they were finally able to figure it out.
To accommodate him as he grows, the team used telescoping pipes that are adjustable to a wide range of sizes. They also made sure that his back legs wouldn’t be dragging on the ground by fitting a fabric loop to the right side of the cart that allows them to rest comfortably and easily slide in and out.
“This was the most exciting project I’ve ever done and the most fulfilling by far. I remember watching Jimmy try to walk when we first met him and it was just heartbreaking, because you can tell that he wants to run and play like a regular puppy, but he can’t. That just motivated all of us even more to do the best job possible so Jimmy could be able to do that,” shared one of the students.
Jimmy may be permanently paralyzed, but now he has a new set of wheels that will help him live his best life. While Jimmy may one day be available for adoption, for now, he will be staying with his foster family as he learns how to better use his new set of wheels.
Check out the video below to see Jimmy learning how to use his custom cart.
Featured Images: Facebook