Taipei, Jan 11: A photo featuring a disabled dog from Taiwan walking with the help of wheels has won an online contest sponsored by a U.S. website dedicated to pet adoption and welfare, a local animal rescue organization said Monday.
The mixed-breed stray dog, nicknamed Popeye, was partially paralyzed after sustaining serious injuries to his spinal chord in a traffic accident in southern Taiwan two years ago, said the Animal Rescue Team Taiwan (ARTT).
"At the time, the attending vet suggested that Popeye be euthanized," recalled Ni Ching-tai, an ARTT volunteer.
But thanks to joint rescue efforts by animal rights protection groups in Taiwan and the United States, Popeye survived, Ni said, and a special contraption with wheels was created for Popeye to replace the dog's two hind legs, which were crippled in the accident.
Popeye was later flown to San Francisco, where he was adopted by an American woman identified only by her first name Judy.
Ni said Judy often walked Popeye with his special wheels in her community, attracting interest from many of her neighbors.
"For Judy, Popeye is not a disabled dog but rather her most intimate family member," Ni said, adding that she has taken pictures of him and launched Twitter and Facebook pages for him.
Last September, Judy sent a photo featuring her and Popeye bathing in sunshine on a lakeside grassland to the U.S. Petfinder website to be entered in an online U.S. nationwide pet photo contest.
"Popeye's story touched the hearts of many Americans and the photo first made the short list of 50 finalists," Ni said.
Last weekend, the final results were unveiled, with Popeye's photo emerging as the winner, Ni said.
"Judy has informed us that she has decided to donate the US$10,000 in prize money to animal rights advocacy groups in Taiwan and the United States," Ni said.
Judy told the ARTT that Popeye's life story has encouraged many disabled American citizens to face up to their challenges and handicaps courageously.
"The images of Popeye walking happily on wheels has become a popular story in Judy's hometown" Ni Said