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Michigan sanctuary seeks wheelchair to change turkey's life – Detroit Free Press

This old bird needs more than a pardon, she needs a wheelchair.
Gracie Lou, a white turkey at the Sanctuary and Safe Haven for Animals, is having trouble walking, and the Washtenaw County farm where she lives wants to provide her with some assistance.
The sanctuary, better known as Sasha Farms in Manchester, posted a plea and video on Monday on its Facebook page asking for donations — “any amount you’re able” — to help the disabled bird and cover the cost of a custom cart to help her get around.
As of Monday afternoon, it had received $600 in donations.
In the video, Gracie’s left shank appears severely strained. She walks with a hobble. The post requesting donations added that a custom wheelchair will “significantly change her life.”
In the past few years, custom wheelchairs to assist pets and even wild animals that have damaged or missing limbs or have other problems, such as arthritis, paralysis and degenerative muscle diseases, have become increasingly common. 
The Internet is full of reports and photos of animals — including dogs, cats, squirrels, goats, bunnies, ferrets, guinea pigs, turtles, rats, deer, alpacas, sheep, pigs and even small horses — that have been outfitted with mobility devices.
Gracie’s wheelchair, the farm’s post said, will be made by K9 Carts, a Freeland, Washington, outfit that, in addition to dogs and cats, makes wheelchairs for chickens and turkeys.
On its website, K9 Carts highlights a device for a bird up to 17 pounds with deformed or missing legs, priced at $375. Gracie Lou weighs almost twice that. The device is made with a lightweight frame and caster wheel and takes up to 21 days to make.
The wheelchair for Gracie Lou, who is about 5 years old, is expected to cost at least $500.
Georgia-based AMS Vans, a wheelchair-accessible vehicle manufacturer and mobility dealer, notes on its website that these devices can enable pets to “run, play, exercise, and lead a healthy life.”  
The animal wheelchairs, the company said, can help both small and large pets, some even weighing more than 250 pounds.
Some wheelchairs have air-filled tires so the animals can move over various terrain, grass, gravel, sand and even rocks. They also may offer sophisticated harnesses that let the device move in sync with the animal.
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Since 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln supposedly spared a turkey to be cooked for Christmas dinner at the request of his young son, the birds have received clemency and later, official pardons, according to the White House Historical Association
This request takes saving a turkey — a bird that doesn’t fly — to a new level.
SASHA, the nonprofit asking for donations for Gracie’s wheelchair, bills itself as the Midwest’s “largest farm animal sanctuary,” offering food, care, and shelter to about 200 animals. Many of them were mistreated and neglected.
The nonprofit farm’s founders, Dorothy Davies and Monte Jackson, started saving animals about 20 years ago.
Among the first animals they took in, the site said, was a 9-year-old pet shop puppy, a border collie-spaniel with a white-tipped tail, that a family bought but ultimately couldn’t care for.
It lived for 17 years, and caretakers named their sanctuary Sasha, after the dog.
The turkey, the sanctuary said, is relatively old for poultry raised to be eaten. She was saved from the chopping block years ago, and now she needs to be rescued from an affliction of old age.
“Your support is very much appreciated!” Sasha’s plea ends. “Gracie Lou thanks you! 🦃”
Contact Frank Witsil: 313-222-5022 or


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