Why buy when you can rent?
Barbara Parkes, co-founder of K9 Carts West in Langley, Wash., this year began allowing customers to rent pet wheelchairs instead of buying them. Many dogs need mobility assistance for only two or three weeks after an injury or surgery, she says, so a short-term rental is often the cheaper choice.
K9 Carts West’s standard two-wheel cart for a 50-pound dog runs $185 for three weeks’ use, plus shipping and a $79 deposit. A four-wheel cart for the same canine costs $240, plus shipping and a $99 deposit. Two-wheel carts work for dogs that have good forelimb strength, and the four-wheelers are for animals that need complete body support.
Rentals give owners more options for assisting their paralyzed or ambulatory pets, and the results Parkes sees make her smile. “The joy, the happiness, for the owners is fabulous,” she says.
Parkes suggests that with increasing interest in animal rehab, such centers might follow her move and offer a rental carts. “Five carts will fit probably 90 percent of all breeds,” she says.
Some dogs may not do well in a wheelchair. Parkes has found that the terrier group, particularly the West Highland and the Scottie, along with “fiercely independent” or obese dogs tend to give the carts the paws-down.
“But 99.9 percent of dogs,” she says, “you put them in a cart and they’re off and running.”