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Buster's Plight Helps Put Spotlight On Special Needs Animals

Humane Society of Cambria County via Facebook
Buster, a 2-year-old pit bull mix, is measured for prothetics.

The staff and volunteers at the Cambria County Humane Society know 2-year-old pit bull mix Buster's story - ears that were cropped incorrectly, heartworm disease and a spine injury that healed improperly, causing his back legs to collapse at times as he plays.

Buster was adopted out of the shelter previously, but became notorious for running loose in his neighborhood. He was eventually hit by a car while running after another dog, but was never taken to a veterinarian for those injuries.

On Nov. 5, he was returned to the humane society as a stray.

Upon recently sharing his story with the local community, donations began to pour in - and still are - to cover the $500 cost for a recent procedure Buster had for his heartworm issues.

Now, a nonprofit organization based in Butler has reached out to give Buster the assistance that could amplify his playful personality.

"He's playful; he just needs some wheels to let him play at his full potential," said Jessica Vamos, executive director of the Cambria County Humane Society.

Since starting in the position earlier this month, Vamos said she was amazed at the response to Buster's story on the shelter's Facebook page.

"We got really great feedback," she said. "We still have people saying, 'I want to donate to Buster.' "

The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown Business Club recently offered to cover Buster's adoption fee whenever he's placed in a home.

Tanya Diable recently established Joey's Prosthetics And Wheels (P.A.W.), a nonprofit organization to provide partial and full funds for dogs in need of prosthetics and wheelchairs.

She also heard about Buster's story through the humane society's social media and immediately reached out.

"It just tugs on my heartstrings," Diable said. "His story can help other dogs get adopted."

Last October, Diable adopted a Novia Scotia duck tolling retriever, who underwent amputation of one of his legs and, upon receiving a prosthetic, thrived.

"He zooms around constantly," Diable said.

"You can see a dog come to life when they receive wheelchairs or a prosthetic. We knew we had to do something somehow to make this wrong right."

Diable said the goal of Joey's P.A.W. is to get dogs moving and help those up for adoption find homes by eliminating the financial burden that comes with prosthetics or wheelchairs that could deter some.

"We want to show people the joy of owning a special needs dog," Diable said.

To date, Diable said Joey's P.A.W. has helped supply eight wheelchairs to dogs, is in the process of building two more and has requests for another three. Two dogs have been assisted with prosthetics.

Businesses and individuals from all over the world have donated to the organization, many of whom can't care for a special needs dog, but want to help others be able to.

In Buster's case, Vamos said the humane society is currently filling out the necessary paperwork with Diable's organization to get him a wheelchair as soon as possible.

"Everyone is really rooting for him," Vamos said. "He's going to be watched by a lot of people."

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