TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Pets typically do not see disabilities — they just feel love, and Paige Graham showers them with it.
The St. Petersburg woman is on a crusade to save perceived "misfit" animals.
“There [are] so many animals being discarded," she told FOX 13. "I can’t save all of them right now, but I wish I could."
Her love for animals started with her first chihuahua, Peter Jennings.
“He was my best friend,” Graham said.
He was a typical pup, until an injury left him with paralysis. But instead of giving him up or putting him down, she researched therapies to help keep him pain-free.
“He was rehabbed back from near total paralysis," Graham explained "I had another seven years with him after that."
Peter set the wheels in motion, and two years later, Graham's home is full of animals who require special care. She calls it “The Island of Misfits."
"I don’t think there’s such a thing as 'unadoptable.' I think all lives have value," she said. "When I see these dogs, I see potential in them that other people don’t."
Graham herself has two cats with disabilities: Walter Cron-cat and Hope.
She saw something special in a dog named Charlie and rescued him after his owners dropped him off at a kill shelter. His hind legs don’t work, but that doesn’t slow him down.
“He does not even realize he's paralyzed," Graham said. "He sees the ball and he runs after it. He sees the other dogs and he just goes."
Charlie runs with a pretty cool pack. There’s Ninja, who Graham calls a "gentle giant." A stroke left him with paralysis.
There’s Jellybean, who Graham wishes she named "Jumping Bean." He was struck by a driver and now has plates and screws in his legs. Despite his injury, he is quite energetic.
Someone found 10-year-old Abraham on the side of a road. He had to have his eye removed.
Then there is Nala the pig. Graham describes her as a "diva."
“Just because they’re old doesn’t mean they need to be put down," she explained. "There’s things we can do to keep them healthy, active and happy."
Though her island is getting full, Graham said watching her “misfits” go from rehab to recovery makes her heart fuller.
“Just to be able to see them living their best life, enjoying themselves and living the life they deserve to have is wonderful,” said Graham.
Graham is working on making the “Isle of Misfits” an official nonprofit. In the meantime, she said she will continue advocating for underdogs, cats and pigs alike.
Anyone interested in adopting an animal with disabilities through the organization can find more information here.