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Survivor Dogs with Disabilities Find New Purpose: Inspiring Others!



Quick Smiles:

  • Debbie Pearl rescues disabled dogs and gives them a loving home.
  • Her pack of “Unstoppable Dogs” work as therapy dogs, visiting hospitals and schools.
  • Their inspiring story has gained over 137,000 Instagram followers.

If you ever find yourself in Huntington Beach, California, you might come across Debbie Pearl, a woman who walks her seven dogs using wheelchairs or prosthetic limbs.

Debbie is a dog lover who trains dogs for movies and has always had many dogs at home. In 2005, she founded a nonprofit called Dream Fetchers to rescue dogs from the streets and euthanasia. Members of her personal pack serve as therapy dogs for the organization.

Debbie adopted her first disabled dog, Fast Eddie, about nine years ago. “Eddie was definitely my inspiration for adopting other disabled dogs,” Pearl told CBS News. “He was so full of life. He never let anything slow him down.”

After rescuing Eddie, Debbie began adopting more disabled dogs, and people started reaching out to her to help these special animals.

Debbie is selective when adopting dogs because they all become her therapy dogs, a group she calls “The Unstoppable Dogs.” The pack, consisting of Zeek, Pop, Speedy, Eddie, Stevie, Elliot, and Sydney, are all survivors of abuse. Most of the dogs use special wheelchairs, while Elliot and Sydney use prosthetics. Debbie pulls them in a wagon while walking the other dogs.

About once a week, Debbie takes her crew to hospitals, schools, or the Easter Seals, a nonprofit that helps adults with disabilities.

“I look for dogs that have been through traumatic events, but that have this amazing gift of forgiveness,” Pearl said. “And that’s a powerful thing for a lot of people because they can see the courage, the resilience that these dogs have.”


Debbie and her “Unstoppable Dogs” are known not only in Huntington Beach but around the world. Their Instagram page has 137,000 followers. Many of their social media followers and the people they visit for therapy have disabilities themselves and can relate to the dogs and their joy.

One dog, in particular, stands out to Debbie: Elliot, a victim of extreme abuse who lost all four of his legs. Now equipped with four prosthetic legs, Elliot is re-learning to walk again. “To me, Elliot exemplifies courage and resilience,” Pearl said.

CBS News joined Debbie on a walk with her dogs, and they were all excited to get outside and run around. Debbie believes that her dogs are here because they’ve been given a second chance at life.

“Even though they may be in a wheelchair, even though they may be missing a limb, they’re making the best of their life,” she said. “And I think that says a lot that hopefully others can take from that because it doesn’t matter maybe what has happened to you in the past or what you’re dealing with at this moment. Live. Because you can live a great life and be happy.”