Canines missing a leg are affectionately known as tri-pawds. While animal adoption experts say most people would not accept a dog that is “not perfect,” Jeffrey White has three of them.
“Some people stare, some people point,” White says.
The first tri-pawd he got was Spirit, who was brought down from Northern Quebec by Rosie Animal Adoption.
“Spirit had had a hunting trap around his leg, and it was caught for so long that it killed the tissue. He had to have it amputated,” said K.J. Goldenberg, a veterinarian at the Pierrefonds Animal Hospital that cared for the dogs.
“It was like a love at first sight kind of thing,” said White.
During Spirit’s rehab at the Pierrefonds Animal Hospital, White happened to encounter another three-legged dog named Gallagher. Gallagher had been hit by a car up north, and he was also brought in by Rosie’s.
“The two became really good friends and we decided, ‘Well, if I can do one, might as well get a friend for him and get two,'” White told Global News.
And about two weeks ago, he adopted Bella, the third.
“When he adopted the first one, we were very happy,” said Anne Dube, who runs Rosie Animal Adoption. “When he adopted the second, we said, ‘Really? That’s great.’ But when he adopted the third one, we said, ‘Oh my God, these dogs are so lucky.'”
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You might wonder what kind of person would take on three three-legged dogs when most people wouldn’t take one.
“He’s our hero,” Dube says.
But White is uniquely qualified. He’s a McGill-trained physical therapist.
“Even though we’re two-legged and they’re four-legged, there are quite a few similarities,” he said.
“People, dogs, we’re all mammals,” said Goldenberg. “It’s the same bones, the same muscles and he said, ‘I think I can do this!'”
Spirit has been with him the longest, about a year. And although he can be timid, White says Spirit has made huge strides.
“We go for a run almost every night together, and he’s got faster than me at this point,” White said.
The resident of a Montreal suburb said he wouldn’t have any of the dogs if not for Dube and Rosie Animal Adoption. The donation-funded organization paid for all the amputation surgeries.
“You’re usually looking at $1,500 or $2,000 for surgery, hospitalization. For care and a month of rehab, probably another $1,000,” said Goldenberg.
The dogs run and play like any four-legged pup would.
“They’re not handicapped at all,” says White. “They’re more than capable of doing what other dogs do.”
White does not count out the possibility of taking on a fourth tri-pawd.