Jill Rappaport

A sanctuary for special dogs

Jan. 12, 2010 at 8:32 PM ET

From TODAY correspondent Jill Rappaport

We have all used the phrase "heart of gold," but the couple I met for today's story truly has 24-karat "hearts."

Joyce Darrell and her husband Michael Dickerson have devoted their lives to dogs, but not just any dogs. Tucked away on a farm in Maryland lies a loving sanctuary they created for special-needs animals. When I say "special," I

mean every dog here is either crippled or blind.

Their nonprofit organization is called Pets With Disabilities and since their mission of the heart began 10 years ago, they have saved and assisted in helping hundreds of dogs. Their compassion and devotion have extended all the way to Russia: They once made arrangements to get a crippled dog named Tuzak to their farm so he could have the best quality of life.

Taking care of countless dogs with severe medical problems is very costly and a 24/7 job, but it's made a bit easier with the help of some wonderful volunteers and donations. And even though the dogs are up for adoption, because of their condition many will live out their lives here. But that's just fine with Joyce and Michael, who love watching them run down the hills with wheelchairs attached to their hips, playing, barking and kissing everyone they meet! They are happy indeed, because they know they will be taken care of for life by people with hearts of gold. WATCH THE VIDEO

For more information on Pets with Disabilities, an organization that offers help for disabled animals, click here.

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