Disabled Chihuahuas get help

Three Chihuahua puppies, born without front legs due to a genetic defect, now have what the North Shore Animal League calls "front-wheel drive."

The trio, Venus, Carmen and Pablo, rescued by the League from a Virginia shelter, were equipped with two-wheeled carts that give them mobility, the shelter said.

"The three have been practicing getting about and eating using their new, custom-built, aluminum carts," the shelter said. The carts are fastened to the dogs with "Velcro-held polar fleece padding for comfortable body support and lightweight foam wheels."

The carts were made by a company in the Berkshire Mountains village of Shelburne Falls, in western Massachusetts. The company, Eddie's Wheels, designed the carts to be used for 10 minutes at a stretch. They eliminate some of the stress on their lower spines from walking on their hind legs and from the lack of proper posture, the animal welfare agency said.

The Chihuahuas are each missing their front legs because of a birth defect believed to be the result of irresponsible overbreeding, also known as backyard breeding, the shelter said.

Normal in every other way, the pups seem unaware of their disability and have accepted the challenge of their new carts much as they did the challenge to learn to balance themselves on their back legs, the League said.

The three now have a permanent home, the shelter said. They were adopted together by a North Shore Animal League veterinary technician.

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