Paraplegic Pit Bull Mix Inspires Kids with Disabilities

Piggy, a paralyzed pit bull mix from Salt Lake City, Utah, provides comfort to hospitalized children with similar disabilities.

Several years ago, Salt Lake City attorney April Hollingsworth went to a local animal shelter, looking for her missing cat. She’d had no intention of coming home with a canine companion, but when she caught sight of Piggy, a pit-bull/boxer mix, the dog grinned at her.

“I’d never seen a dog smile before, so I had to have her,” she told KLS News.

Piggy loved to run and play, but the dog’s life changed dramatically three-and-a-half years ago, when she was struck by a car outside of Hollingsworth’s house. Hollingsworth came out to find her dog covered with blood, unable to move.

When she took Piggy to the vet, the news wasn’t good. “It wasn’t until I picked her up that I really understood that she was paralyzed,” Hollingsworth said. “No one came out and said, ‘You should put her down,’ but that was the implied recommendation.”

But Hollingsworth decided that she would give her dog as much care and help as she needed to stay alive. She bought the dog a cart that attaches to her torso, letting her walk without use of her hind legs. Now, Piggy is pretty good at getting around on her own—and her favorite place to go is the children’s wing of Shriners Hospital, where she is a registered therapy dog.

Piggy visits children who are also coping with paralysis and mobility problems. As soon as the children see her, “they instantly attach to the dog and can empathize with her situation,” said Andrea Mathers, a Shriners employee. “I think that is what makes her unique coming here to the hospital, so it is really something that these kids look forward to.”

“I think if we’re lucky we have something to give the world to make people happy,” said April. “I have this great dog who spread happiness wherever she goes, so I feel it’s as much my obligation as it is something that makes me really happy.”

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