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'They inspire me': Raleigh woman launches rescue for special needs dogs

Posted October 5, 2020 6:00 a.m. EDT
Updated October 5, 2020 6:26 a.m. EDT

— Animal lover and Perfectly Imperfect Pups founder Nicole Kincaid said she didn't set out to start a rescue for disabled and special needs dogs, but she became inspired.

Not counting the foster dogs she lives with at any given time, Kincaid owns six dogs. Half of them have special needs.

"It's just amazing seeing their perseverance," said Kincaid. "If we lost a leg or went blind, we would be crippled for months, but these guys are like, 'Oh, alright, cool, how are we gonna work this?' It's just inspiring."

Perfectly Imperfect Pups

Almost seven years ago, Kincaid took in Keena, a puppy from a backyard breeder who had no use of one of her back legs. Keena's leg was amputated when she was six months old, but that didn't stop her.

"Seeing her still being a normal puppy inspired me," Kincaid said. "I was just in awe to watch her figure out life."

Right after adopting Keena, Kincaid offered to foster a blind puppy, Magoo.

"He turned into my second foster fail," Kincaid laughed. "So right now my house is closed for keeping dogs."

Foster parents usually care for dogs until they can find permanent homes, but sometimes, they become too attached. Kincaid is already falling for the sweet puppy that inspired her to launch Perfectly Imperfect Pups, a Triangle-based special needs-based rescue, earlier than expected.

Perfectly Imperfect Pups has been in the works for months. Kincaid had planned to wait to launch the rescue until she could secure more funding, but then she met Ferris, a snuggly, adorable little guy who doesn't have the use of his back legs.

Perfectly Imperfect Pups

When Kincaid saw on social media that Ferris had 72 hours to find a home, she caved. She's currently helping the puppy build muscle in his back legs so he can eventually use a wheelchair to get around. He'll soon be ready to adopt.

Serving a great need

North Carolina's animal shelters are constantly full of animals, and staff often don't have the resources or time to take care of dogs who need special treatment. Other special needs dogs come from breeders who can't sell them. That's where Perfectly Imperfect Pups comes in.

"When it comes to special needs dogs, their time in shelters is limited," Kincaid said. "If a rescue doesn't come in between 24 and 72 hours, they may be humanely euthanized. That is not me putting down the shelter -- they literally don't have the capacity to be able to care for these dogs."

Learn more about overcrowding and the need for help in county shelters.

With the help of other volunteer foster parents, Kincaid hopes her rescue can save hundreds of lives.

Like most rescues, Perfectly Imperfect Pups is completely reliant on volunteers, donations and people willing to foster animals in their homes.

"The only way we can continue taking in dogs is through donations from the public," Kincaid said. "We don't want to have to say no to any special needs dogs."

In addition to operating Perfectly Imperfect Pups, Kincaid has a full-time job and three human children to take care of.

"I live and breathe rescue, but it doesn't pay the bills," said Kincaid, who has put a lot of her own money into the rescue. "I do what I can with Perfectly Imperfect Pups in between my day job, and thankfully my job supports me in what I do."

Local veterinarians partner with rescues like Perfectly Imperfect Pups to offer steep discounts on medical care and prescriptions. It's still an investment, but Kincaid said watching dogs learn to live full lives with their disabilities is well worth it.

"It's just one of those things that I'm not sure I could be satisfied in life if I didn't do it," Kincaid said. "These dogs inspire me on a daily basis."

Donate, volunteer, foster or adopt

Right now, Perfectly Imperfect Pups is working to grow its network of fosters. People interested in fostering can get the answers to frequently asked questions and fill out an application on the rescue's website.

There are also links for people hoping to make donations or volunteer.

If you're worried about fostering or adopting a special needs dog, don't be. Some foster parents may help teach deaf, blind or disabled dogs special commands, but the most important job is loving them, Kincaid said. It takes a special person, but anyone can do it.

"It doesn't have to be an entire lifestyle change, it's just small modifications," Kincaid said, such as not moving furniture around constantly if your dog is blind.

Some special needs dogs may require more medications or care than others, but Perfectly Imperfect Pups pays for most or all of the care in the dog's first year. The rescue can help adopters find the right special needs for their lifestyle.

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