In the 1950’s and 60’s, dogs with spinal issues that left them unable to walk were tragically put down. It was common practice at the time, but still heartbreaking to veterinarians who wanted nothing more than to save animals’ lives.
Dr. Lincoln Parkes was going through vet school, with a specialization in orthopedics and neurosurgery, during this time and decided something needed to be done. So, he got creative with his hands and built the world’s first dog wheelchair.
The now 91-year-old had just finished serving in World War II when he started veterinary school. During this time, he would see around 96,000 animals annually at the University of Pennsylvania.
It devastated him to see so many animals put to sleep because they couldn’t walk. He told a local news station, “Animals, because they can’t walk, should not be put to sleep. I felt there must be a way. And it became obvious – make something for them and try it!”.
Dr. Parkes built the world’s first dog wheelchair in 1961 using random parts he found off the street. He said that the first time he actually put a dog in it, it got all excited and ran out the door. Dr. Parkes’ response? “Uh oh, I’m in trouble.” Then, he started the K-9 Cart Company.
Even though he’s retired from vet medicine, Dr. Parkes continues to build the carts. Today, there are multiple companies who make similar products, which have become pretty common in the vet world, but he still loves to work with his hands and help animals out. To him, building these carts is not work because, “saving lives is a good feeling.”
Dr. Parkes has grown a significant client base over the years and has branched out to build custom carts for more than just pups including cats and even snakes! He enjoys giving these animals their freedom back and can actually see a big difference in their demeanor when they get up and running after years (or lifetimes) of having to lay on the floor.
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