Metro Detroit Paralympian says her rescue dog adoption application was turned down because of her wheelchair

Woman says her wheelchair has never impacted prior dog adoptions

Metro Detroit paralympian says her rescue dog adoption application was turned down because of her wheelchair
Metro Detroit paralympian says her rescue dog adoption application was turned down because of her wheelchair

CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Cheryl Angelelli has used a wheelchair since the 1980′s after an accident left her with a spinal cord injury but she’s never let it stop her from living her life.

She’s a Paralympian, she skydives, ballroom dances and has rescued four shih-tzu mixes over the last 16 years. Her wheelchair has never come up in the dog adoption process until last week.

Related: Heart of Detroit: Cheryl Angelelli, an inspiration for many

Angelelli and her husband lost one of their dogs to old age earlier this year. Now it’s just them and dog Charlie. She knows Charlie is lonely without his pal, so they decided to look for another dog. They got on Petfinder.com and saw a local rescue -- Bark Bark Wag -- with a pair of adult mixed breed small dogs that had to be adopted together.

Angelelli filled out all 81 questions, passed the vet check, references and sent pictures of every room of her home. Only when the meet up with the dogs was scheduled, and she asked if it was wheelchair accessible did everything change. Angelelli spoke with Sherri Skinner from Bark Bark Wag.

“She says to me that the dog Hank, which is the male dog, would be totally freaked out by my wheelchair, those were her exact words,”Angelelli said. “I asked her has Hank ever been around somebody in a wheelchair and she said she would have no way of knowing that.”

Angelelli suggested they go through with the meet up, Skinner said no. Angelelli said Skinner implied she lied on her application when asked if anybody in the home had allergies or a medical condition because she answered no.

“I explained to her I don’t consider what I have a medical condition and she says ‘We have to put something down’ and wanted to know what caused my injury,” she said.

Skinner did not respond to Local 4′s request for an interview but told said in an earlier phone conversation she considers the dogs skittish, although that’s not disclosed on their biographical information.

Angelelli said she wasn’t trying to hide her wheelchair from the rescue and that in the pictures of her home she was required to send in, it’s clearly visible. Skinner said she’s not discriminating against Angelelli, that they will consider her for future adoptions.

Angelelli said she was told she would be considered if she disclosed the circumstances of her accident and wants nothing to do with them at this point.

Detroit Dog Rescue’s Kristina Millman Rinaldi heard about the case and has volunteered her help to help find a new small breed mix for Angelelli.

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