A Sanctuary for 200 Special Needs Animals – Safe in Austin, TX

Rescued Animals, Rescuing Children

Paralyzed goat walks for first time in new Walkin' Wheels wheelchair

Imagine this . . . Starting a rescue that cares for over 200 special needs animals. Now picture this – Inviting children and adults who share stories of special needs or trauma and having them heal alongside these “extra needs” animals. This extraordinary place is known as Safe in Austin Rescue, located in Leander, Texas. Its mission is simple, “Rescued Animals, Rescuing Children.”

Safe in Austin (SIA) welcomes dozens of animals who come from backgrounds of abuse, and neglect, suffer from neurological disorders, were born with abnormalities, are paralyzed and need wheelchairs for mobility, are blind, the list goes on. SIA does not discriminate when it comes to those who need a little extra love and attention.  The guests find comfort in SIA because they are in an environment where they can feel completely free to be themselves, surrounded by others (human or animal) who share similar experiences. Jamie says that the goal is for the guests to “soak up all of the love you get here and take it out past our gates and into the world.”

How it All Began

It all started when Jamie Wallace-Griner, the Founder of Safe in Austin’s son, was diagnosed with Autism. When they rescued one of their first dogs, Angel, she quickly realized that Angel changed the trajectory of her son’s life and was “able to connect with parts of her son, that even she was unable to. It very much inspired us, as to what happens when you put animals and children together, especially extra needs animals and children,” which began her mission of animals healing children, and vice versa.

Walkin’ Pets Helps 6 Disabled Animals in Need

Paralyzed dog gets new Walkin' Wheels dog wheelchair

Out of the 200 special needs animals at the rescue, 6 of them needed wheelchairs. Among the animals in need were:

  • A pig named Waddles
  • A goat named Tulip
  • Three special needs dogs named Hashtag, Halo, and Francis
  • A 10-week old puppy named Peaches

Walkin’ Pets has partnered with Safe in Austin for years, and when they said they needed help, Walkin’ Pets jumped into action. Quickly organized a special team to travel to Austin and help fit the animals in person (all six!).

The Walkin’ Pets Team arrived at SIA and were immediately in awe. The experience was incredible, and everyone was so welcoming. “Once you walk through those gates, there is a sense of comfort and belonging that overcomes you and is something that you just can’t put into words,” says the Walkin’ Pets Team.

The Team quickly began setting up the wheelchairs for the animals. Including rear wheelchairs for those who had rear-limb weakness and abnormalities and several full support wheelchairs for those who needed both front and rear limb support.

New Beginnings

Disabled puppy stands for first time in new Walkin' Wheels full support wheelchair

One of the animals, in particular, caught the attention of the Walkin’ Pets team, and that was Peaches. Peaches in a tiny English bulldog puppy diagnosed with two debilitating mobility conditions, Swimmer’s and hip dysplasia. At only ten weeks old, Peaches has never been able to stand on her own. Her only way to get around is to drag her body around. With Peaches new Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair she was able to stand for the first time in her young life. Although her rehab and recovery may take some time, her wheelchair is integral to Peaches’ continued therapy and helps her as she learns how to walk. The Safe in Austin team is hopeful that with regular exercise that Peaches will be able to walk on her own very soon!

Adopters often overlook special needs animals in rescues and shelters, making it extremely difficult for them to find loving homes. With her new Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair to help her Peaches will be more mobile and independent. This should make the adoption process easier and a step closer to her finding her forever family.

Back on Their Feet

Once the animals got in their Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair, there was no stopping them! “It’s such a gift to watch the animals go from being stuck in their space to being put in their wheels and watching that freedom come alive,” says Jamie. The animals can now roam the grounds freely, independently, and happily.

These fantastic animals get the freedom to walk again. Since blue is a very popular color in children’s wheelchairs and walkers, Walkin’ Pets made sure to give each animal a blue wheelchair. This is just one more way these incredible animals can help connect with the kids that visit them every day.

It is such an inspiration to see people come together for a greater cause – especially when benefiting those with extra needs or superpowers.

Safe in Austin relies entirely on donations to thrive. To donate to Safe In Austin, please visit: www.safeinaustin.org/donations

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