At McKamey Animal Center in Hixson, Dr. Jessica Claudio tends to Gracie, a dog that was hit by a car recently. The mix breed dog is not quite ready for adoption.

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Thanks to McKamey, paralyzed dog learns to walk again

Gracie was found on the side of the road, alone and paralyzed, after being hit by a car a little more than three months ago.

And when the friendly, long-haired stray was brought to McKamey Animal Shelter by an animal control officer who was called to the scene, she struggled to even crawl, having lost all feeling in her hind legs.

An X-ray revealed a spinal cord injury, leaving little hope for a recovery. So, out of options, the staff at McKamey turned to the Mary Dube's Angel Fund for animals with extreme injuries.

The fund, named for one of McKamey's founding members, who died in 2014, is supported by donations and provides funding that helps McKamey rehab and treat animals in their care that need more than basic services. More than 70 percent of all animals taken to McKamey need medical help that goes beyond vaccines, spaying and neutering, says Jamie McAloon, executive director of McKamey Animal Center.

"We are trying to save any animal that can have a healthy and quality life," says McAloon. "This was a dog that had a lot to give back."

With the money, they were able to purchase a wheelchair for Gracie, unsure how she would respond to the strange new contraption aiding her mobility.

To help

› To give to the Mary Dube’s Angel Fund, go to www.mckameyanimal

› If you are interested in providing a foster home for Gracie, call McKamey Animal Center at 423-305-6500, ext. 100.


Soon the 2-year-old was speeding around in her new wheelchair. Staff members who worked with her said she got so excited about using the wheelchair that she would wiggle and dance as they strapped her in.

"The day that we put Gracie in our wheelchair and she took off, we just could not hold back the tears," says Christie Ha, clinic manager at McKamey. "It was an amazing moment, one of the most rewarding moments I've experienced in all my years working with animals."

Then, something strange began to happen. While in the chair, Gracie began to use her rear right leg to push off. Later, she began to do the same with her rear left leg. And now, with the help of rehabilitation at Animal Hospital of Signal Mountain she can use both legs to hold herself up.

Slowly, as she gains strength in her back legs at weekly therapy sessions, she is learning to walk on her own again. However, she still has to use the wheelchair for longer walks, Ha says.

McAloon says thousands of dollars were spent to help Gracie recover, and this week alone two other animals have received important surgeries with money from the Angel Fund.

"The fund is pretty depleted," she adds.

Right now, she says, only $2,000 is left.

"We are hoping that it will get built back up again," McAloon says. "We rely heavily on it."

Christmas is a very busy time for McKamey, which is expecting to serve a total of 6,300 animals this year and is currently housing 600 animals, half of which are available for adoption.

Many families choose to adopt at Christmas time, but McAloon says many more choose to give their animals away.

"July 4th and Christmas Eve are the biggest intake days of the year," she says.

Soon, McAloon says, Gracie will be ready for adoption. First, she needs to finish treatment for heartworms.

In the meantime, however, McKamey is looking for a foster family with experience caring for special-needs animals that can help care for her until she is ready for permanent placement.

"Gracie has been the most positive, sweet and affectionate dog," says Ha. "She doesn't give us a bit of trouble and has kept an amazing attitude through it all."

Contact Joan Garrett McClane at or 423-757-6601.