Disabled dogs in Taiwan have a chance at walking and even running again since a pet enthusiast has designed wheelchairs for the canines in the southern city of Tainan.
A 40-year-old machine operator, Pan Chieh, decided to make dog wheelchairs himself after a friend who rescued an injured stray dog was charged by the animal hospital for the expensive wheelchair.
"The first dog recovered completely after using the wheelchair, which gave me a lot of confidence," Pan said.
The material cost for one wheelchair is about 1,000 TWD ($30), less than one-third the price of commercially available models, according to Pan.
Pan said he has been making wheelchairs for dogs and cats ever since, starting with heavy wooden models and finally arriving at the current cost-effective water pipe design.
The current model uses readily available plastic water pipes that are cut to size and connected by joints. This enables him to customise wheelchairs to the specific needs of each animal, and keeps them light.
Pan and his girlfriend visit shelters and homes of pet owners throughout Taiwan on weekends to build wheelchairs for animals in need.
The couple charges a minimum of 5,000 TWD (USD 150) to cover travel and material costs.
But they often offer to work for free in cases where animal patients have no one to sponsor them.
In the island’s remote mountain areas, where farmers put up traps to prevent animals from devouring their crops, Taiwan’s many stray dogs and cats face the danger of being hit by cars or walking into paw traps.