Calvert County Government via Facebook

At its Feb. 5 public meeting, the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners presented a proclamation to Pets with Disabilities, a 15-year-old grassroots organization that provides a safe, comfortable, healing environment for animals.

Pets with Disabilities was founded by Michael Dickerson and Joyce Darrell after their dog Duke was involved in an accident that made him a wheelchair user. Their facility gives animals a place to heal and find their forever families.

Below is from their Facebook Page and you can find out more about “Pets with Disabilities” here.

Mike and I went down to our local rescue to adopt a new member of the family. We saw this vibrant young shepherd mix, and knew he was the one to join us. We brought him home and promptly named him Duke.

Duke was a wonderful, typical puppy who added lots of excitement and joy to our home. We had no idea he was about to change our lives forever. Two months after adopting Duke, he was playing with another puppy and had a tragic accident, severing his spinal cord. At 6 months old our vibrant young rescue dog was in a wheelchair. Well guess what, Duke was still vibrant and young – he just had special needs. When we adopted Duke and took him home it was a commitment, thru sickness and health until death do us part – he was a member of our family. So many people forget that adopting a dog is a commitment, and once their dog gets sick or injured they still need to commit to caring for them.

A few months later we heard about another pup named Misty, living in a NY shelter for over 5 years. Nobody wanted Misty because she had hind leg problems. Hundreds and Hundreds of people passed her cage, not even giving her a chance. We went to NY and adopted her immediately. For years Misty became quite a “spokes-dog” for her cause. People started looking at her, seeing the life in her eyes, and the heart she wanted to share and commented on what a wonderful dog she was, and “How could she had been in a shelter so long?”.

After loving our wheelchair dog Duke, and seeing the impact Misty had on people, and realizing there was no support system or education available for people dealing with disabled pets, Pets with Disabilities was incorporated to be that support system for these animals with no voice.

For 8 years, while Mike and I both had full time jobs…. We traveled to events and expos’ to speak on behalf of these wonderful spirits, we set-up a website to post animals needing help, at one point we had 12 disabled animals living in our home – and due to the constant need and 100’s of requests for help, we decided to expand our efforts and build our rescue barn, in order to help more dogs.

I eventually made a huge decision to close my small business and volunteer FULL time on behalf of the disabled animals.

With the expansion of the rescue, I committed myself totally to the helping these dogs in need. Many people that visit our website, think we are a huge organization, when in fact, I am a one person show. I take no salary for my hours and hours of work, and have no paid help and a small core group of volunteers. This is a labor of love.

Pets with Disabilities is a rescue, not a dumping ground for people’s dogs who have become incontinent. Guardians/ Owners, shame on you for not being there when your dog gets hurt. When you adopt a dog, it is a commitment; changing your life for a dog you love is what being a human is all about.

Rescue groups who have taken in a wheelchair dog. Thank you!! Our rescue can’t take them all, it is physically and financially impossible. We help as many as we can. Please realize it will take time and patience to get these dogs adopted. But they deserve to live and given that second chance at finding a new home. That is what rescue work is all about.

Unfortunately money does not grow on trees. We have created a safe and wonderful environment for these dogs in need. They flourish here, and adoptions and miracles are happening here everyday. I have met the most wonderful folks who have adopted our dogs, amazing and incredible people who just “get it”. They understand these dogs are different but can still be an incredible part of the family and they have. Cheers to you guys and thank you. I only wish there were more people on earth like you.


David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...