We started a foundation called Gunnar's Wheels. Our goal was to have a fleet of loaner carts for shelter dogs and animals whose owners cannot afford them. As of April 2017, we now have 501c3 non-profit status with the IRS!
The rules of Gunnar's Wheels are as follows:
1) The animal gets to use the cart free of charge until the cart is no longer needed, or the animal passes away.
2) At that time, the cart will be sent back to Gunnar's Wheels for a quick once over and sent out to the next needy animal.
This is Hope, the first recipient of Gunnar's Wheels. She came into BARC in Houston, TX. Social media alerted us to her and we provided a cart for her. After Hope, we were able to increase our fleet to 3 carts, with the goal of hitting 50. We were overwhelmed with requests for carts, and are getting to fulfill our dream of helping these otherwise unadoptable animals see their dream of finding a forever family and enjoying life to the fullest!! Hope has actually made a full recovery and can now run, fetch, and hop. Check it out: https://www.facebook.com/kimberlee.sofka/videos/10154996331205977/
From the summer of 2016 until now, we have sent out 114 carts. We have helped 130 animals, as some carts are on their 2nd animal.
Just to give you an idea of our expenses: The carts cost between $125.00 and upwards of $700.00 for specialty carts. Specialty carts are 4-wheeled carts, front-wheeled carts, and amputee carts. The cost to repair a cart varies. If the cart just needs a harness, it could be $25.00. If the cart needs a side frame, it could be right around $50.00. The wheels vary in cost from $10.00 to $45.00 depending on the size and composition. We also turn over about 20 chairs annually due to recover or death, which does help keep expenses down.
Our goal for this year (2017), and every year afterwards: We want to help every animal that is in need of a cart.
We tend to spend about $10K per year, so raising $50,000 to $60,000 would keep us covered for the next couple of years. We've set the goal at $30,000 for now, but hope to go far beyond that. We'll continue to raise the goal as long as donations are coming in so we can plan for the future.
Thank you in advance for considering your donation to Gunnar's Wheels!! Any contribution helps us work toward our goal of seeing all these animals mobile and happy.
We are also currently nominated for the National Hero Dog Award. Check it out here, and send us a vote any day you can up until May 3, 2017: http://herodogawards.org/dog/gunnar/
Check out the links below for some great news features about our animals:
by Johnette, Journey's owner
Speckles and her littermates stumbled around as puppies, chasing each other and tumbling over one another as their mother watchfully followed them around until they accidentally stumbled into a stranger's yard. The owner of the property didn't know that someone owned these dogs, he only saw pit bulls. So emerging from his house, he pulled out his gun and shot all of the dogs. All of the puppies died immediately, except for one small white puppy with speckled ears.
Speckles was not found for a few days. The bullet had lodged itself in her spine and severed the nerves. Her owners were extremely neglectful and did not take her to be treated for almost 3 weeks after they found her ...by the time she was initially seen by a vet, the damage was done. They finally got her an ill fitting wheelchair that did more harm than good, and they would almost never use it. Speckles was left outside to drag herself across the gravel-filled lot. She was not capable of going potty properly and typically went all over herself.
My friend, Stacey, was notified about her condition by a neighbor who had seen this precious puppy struggling and being neglected. Stacey immediately contacted her owners and they agreed to surrender her. Stacey took her to Texas A&M and her medical treatment began. After her medical care, I went and picked her up from her foster home to give her a forever home. I had no real plan on how to deal with her situation other than to love her and get her a new wheelchair down the road. I had no clue how bad the one she had was until I got there and saw her in it, but the minute I met her, she crawled into my lap and I knew she needed a hero.
Over the last 8 years, I have battled a disease myself and everyone else was my hero. That night when I was on my way home, I had 3 hours to convince myself this was going to be OK with this little (not so little) dog. I kept saying "We can do this ...she needs a hero..."
That night, after reality set in and we cleaned up the accident she had in the car, her make-shift wheelchair with zip ties and bungee cords ripped my arm open to the point where I probably should have gone to the ER. My husband and I looked at each other in silence and were both thinking "What the heck have we gotten into?"
But with us being who we are and with everything we have gone through with me and my health, we couldn't give up on her. We are not quitters, and she is such a happy dog. I wanted to give this dog something she never had before - a new life, a forever home and a new name... she sure as heck was not answering to Speckles!
I reached out to a veterinarian I knew - Jodi, who is actually a childhood friend of Jason's - and asked her what she recommended for a wheelchair after my husband had done some research and we did not know which one was best. She told me she knew someone who might could help us with this and she would have him contact me. The next day, Jason contacted me and explained how Gunnar's Wheels worked. I was in tears, thinking, "This is not real... me and my husband have payed it forward all these years. Is this real... do they really have things like this for DOGS really??? Oh my gosh, all my prayers may be answered, or not!" Then doubt started setting back in when I told my husband that there was no cost.
But Jason was insistent that he would be shipping out the chair for Speckles right away! We were were so thankful because we felt so overwhelmed. By this point it felt as if we had had her years! Jason gave me hope to keep on going after talking to him and hearing his story - he assured me we could do this. I pulled up my big girl britches, wiped my tears, and said to myself, "Let's do this."
I told Speckles, "We are going to call you Journey... 'cause you have put me on one in the last 24 hours." She picked up her head as if she knew that was her name all along.
So after my conversation with Jason that day I had hope again, because Gunnar's Wheels was handling all this for us. He assured me it was going to be OK, and he has been there every step of the way for us. I can't tell you how much it was a relief for us that day just knowing he cared.
I'm looking forward to walking this journey our girl. She now can run and play with our other dogs, and she is learning new things, all because of Gunnar's Wheels.
Journey proves the doctors wrong like she has everyone else. She is bursting with energy and has a personality that's contagious... despite her past, the future glistens with hope. I see it when she cuddles with my special needs niece, I see it when she befriends my friends mother with dementia. I see it when a disable boy sees himself in her. Journey is a dog that has something to give to others, and that is hope. That is something the whole world needs - a little hope. It's something Jason at Gunnar's Wheels gave us when we had none, and for that we are so thankful and we can not thank him enough. From Jodi in Florida to us in Texas and Jason in Wisconsin, we've connected so that we can pay it forward!
Harley came into our lives almost 12 years ago. We had never heard of a Puggle (Pug/Beagle) but that face & those ears of his won us over! He got the name Harley because my boyfriend wanted a motorcycle and instead we got a dog (much safer). He's the best cuddler that likes to spoon under the sheets. He learned how to open the refrigerator one day and has had his share of english muffins, pizza (that he hid all over my couch) and raw eggs!
Unfortunately he was diagnosed with a mild case of hip dysplasia over a year ago and about 6 months ago it got worse, which has also turned into degenerative myelopathy. I have pet insurance for him and thankfully have a great vet where he can got therapy - water treadmill, acupuncture, massages, and chiropractic help. These therapies have helped him. But, when his hip dysplasia got worse we purchased a walking harness to get him out for bathroom walks. I knew I wanted him to play again!
I got a quote on wheels from a company and knew that they were not in our budget. I was doing research on maybe finding him used wheels and came across Gunnar's Wheels, so I started following him on Facebook. One day, Jason posted that a dog had passed and the owner was donating those wheels. I happened to message him and we started talking, then he told me he was sending us brand new wheels. I couldn't believe it. He just asked that when Harley can no longer use them I give them back for another dog in need! Harley has taken to them great. The day I saw him chasing dogs again my heart exploded with joy! This is all I wanted for him to be able to enjoy the rest of his life!!! Thanks to all who have made this possible for Chris, Harley and I.
Thanks so much to all who have donated so that Jason can continue to provide this phenomenal service for those of us with disabled dogs so that they may continue to live as normal a life without the use of a limb(s). Without your graciousness, my Star would never have been able to get her chair. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
What a great thing to do. I would like to donate however believe it or not I currently have a basset hound with a back issue we are trying to fix. It kills me to see her like this (she is unable to use her back legs) we are trying a chiropractor and acupuncture hoping to get her better. If and when she is done and I have extra money I will give something. Keep up the great work, my daughter said we need one of these (she didn't know the cost) but they are definitely not in my budget right now. Good luck with this!!!
I have a new wheel chair that my dog refused to use. Montana was not paralyzed but had neurological issues and would rather walk on his own. I am more than willing to donate this cart. The cart is for a large dog (Montana weighed 130). Please let me know if interested and how to make this happen.
For all friends of GUNNAR and Jason. I have been there from the beginning and watched how this giving back has now come full circle. You will always be special in my life and respect every effort forward you both have made. My 74th Birthday present in your name.
For anyone that has a cart to donate to Gunnar's Wheels, please contact Jason (you can pm him from Gunnar's FB page). As you can imagine, he has a lot happening now, so please give him some time to respond. Shirley Smith, I saw you said you have a mobility cart you'd like to donate. Please contact him via the FB page. And thanks to everyone in advance!
This is so awesome , unfortunately I have to come asking for help instead of giving Our 7 1/2 week puppy Camere (pronounced Come ere) lost control of his hind legs two days ago, we took him to the vet and was told it's a neurologic problem. Due to our current situation of me having a disability myself and raising my soon to be hubby children who are undergoing counsrling for abuse we are unable to afford mri And more costly get care, we live on my ssi, due to having to have a full time caretaker we just can't afford getting the wheelchair for our pup, He dosent understand why his legs don't work and tried so hard to play like he was 3 days ago. It's heartbreaking and I refuse to put him down because I know he can beat this. And my dogs are not dogs there family. Can you please find it in your heart's to help us help him? Thanks so much Laura Lee ,Piedmont Alabama
This is an awesome thing you are doing. We had a dog several years ago that lost the ability to use his back legs and we could have used something like this for him. We miss our Duke so very much. We have a lab/beagle mix that is 16 years old right now and her back legs are becoming very weak, but she is still wanting to be here with us. Keep up the great work you are doing for so many fur children.
God bless you both, Gunnar and Jason.... To me Gunnar is an amazing ambassador to all animals with disabilities and special needs... And Jason you ave made a dream come true for Gunnar and so many others.... This cause has opened and warmed my heart since I first learned about it from Brenda (Misty's Mom).... Keep up you great work Gunnar and Jason... P.S. I VOTE FOR GUNNAR EVERYDAY, on HERO DOGS.... So friends PLEASE go to the site daily and give GUNNAR another vote.... Thank You
Awwww happy tears flowing for sure! You're amazing and what a great way to give back. I have a chocolate lab born with cataracts and now 4 years old. They say he will lose both eyes soon as they're getting worse. It would be devastating for this to happen to him as we live in the mountains with trees, rocks and hills. With all of this being said do you know of anyone that will help him with surgery to correct his eyes? If you have any resources would you please reach out to me. Thank you!
Never ceases to amaze me that animals get way more donations than people in dire need who wouldn't normally ask for help. What a country we live in today.