Meet G.I. Joey2024-06-21T09:53:16-04:00

Meet G.I. Joey! If you want to see the living definition of gumption, take a look at G.I. Joey. With his glistening eyes, his over-the-top ears, and his patent leather nose, G.I. Joey is as cute as puppies come. Full of affection and play, he hasn’t the slightest idea there’s anything “wrong” with him.

But look again, and you’ll see that something is heartbreakingly wrong with this little pup. Born without his front paws, this darling Chihuahua-Dachshund is the victim of incredibly irresponsible breeding and truly callous indifference. In September 2015, county officials in North Carolina removed him and his sweet brother, Bullet, from a harsh and neglectful home. At that point, one of our North Carolina rescue allies, PARTNERS! Canines, took Joey and Bullet, as fosters — and then turned to us for help.

The first picture we saw of Joey closed the deal, and he and Bullet were on their way to Long Island. Our medical professionals immediately recognized Joey’s condition as congenital. The people who bred him were fully aware that this hereditary defect existed in his parents. Dr. Mark Verdino, Vice President and Chief of Veterinary Staff, calls such breeding “cruel and unethical.” We’ve neutered Joey and Bullet, as we do all of our Mutt-i-grees®, but in this case it was doubly important: not only to address the issue of pet overpopulation, but also to prevent this defect from being passed to future generations.

Lucky Bullet is perfectly healthy and ready for a responsible, loving family to take him home. Joey, on the other hand, is now a part of our Sponsor Program. With your monthly support, we’ll provide him with a comfortable mobility cart and all the TLC he needs to adjust to his new way of life. As one of our Sponsor Pets, Joey will have our full support from here on.

Given his positive attitude and wonderful spirit, we’re confident that Joey will make a great adjustment and eventually become a treasured member of a special, caring family. He’s already become a staff favorite. Despite his limitations, Joey manages to scoot around by “army crawling” (hence his name), as his tail and little butt wag like crazy. He’ll also hold himself upright, batting his favorite kennel managers for attention. Because of his birth defect, Joey will require special handling and assistance for the rest of his life. Our veterinarians report that his general health is excellent and that he’s “super sweet.” We can’t wait to see him in his cart so he can go on walks and explore his world.

We hope you’ll decide to be this little dog’s Sponsor Program pet parent. With your help, G.I. Joey will grow into the healthy, active dog he was meant to be — and in the process he’ll make some family very happy — and you, very proud. Thank you.

June 2024

G.I. Joey, the speed demon on wheels, continues to inspire with his zest for life and playful spirit. His daily adventures bring smiles to his family and those they encounter. We are so thankful that G.I. Joey has had the amazing support from his Sponsor and adopted families to ensure he can thrive and spread happiness wherever he goes.

February 2024

G.I. Joey continues to set new speed records with his tricked-out wheels. It makes exploring more fun for him and his family, as Joey can run and be the playful dog he is. Every day Joey inspires his family as well as the people they meet on their daily walks. They are so grateful for his Sponsors, who believe that all animals are deserving of love and care, no matter what their medical condition may be.

November 2023

G.I. Joey has become an unofficial “emotional support dog” for his family, said mom Maddy. “Joey loves us unconditionally and shows it many ways. He is a hugger and every morning when we take him out, first he will wrap his head around our necks and hug us.” Joey is also zooming around with his new set of wheels, thanks to Bionic Pets in Virginia, Animal League America, and his Sponsor Pet family!

May 2023

G.I. Joey was extraordinarily patient while his family went through a recent move. They always make time to give him the affection he needs though. He adapted to his new surroundings well and is just happy to be around his loved ones, wherever they are!

March 2023

G.I. Joey may have a more challenging disability than most, it doesn’t hold him back from enjoying life to the fullest. His cart does attract attention and his spunky spirit inspires all who see him, but he would much rather interact with the people he knows and trusts. No matter because his family loves him just the way he is!

November 2022

G.I. Joey is still more interested in spending time with his favorite humans than in making new friends, but his parents understand, and adore him just the way he is. G.I. Joey continues to manage well despite his significant disability and helps inspire everyone around him with his adorable and spunky spirit.

June 2022

G.I. Joey can be a bit of a handful when his parents want to travel, but they understand his anxiety. Since Joey can’t run from danger due to his extreme disability, he can be aggressive toward strangers as a way of protecting himself. Thankfully they have family members who can pitch in, and as his mom, Maddy, said, “He’s always a dream with us as he loves and trusts us unconditionally. Joey gives us so much more than anything we could ever give him!”

March 2022

G.I. Joey is reaching new speeds thanks to some inspired teamwork, and new and improved wheels! His mom, Maddie, came across the work of Derrick Campana, who creates carts and prosthetics for animals. Working with Animal League America to get a prototype fashioned, Maddie then made a road trip to Virginia with Joey to get an “in-person” fitting. It was a phenomenal success. “Joey is a new dog when we take walks,” reported Maddie. “Seeing him in his new wheels is incredible — it’s as if nothing is holding him back. Thank you to Animal League America, the Sponsors, and Derrick Campana!”

November 2021

G.I. Joey is busy continuing to put smiles on the faces of his appreciative family. His spirited personality is irresistible, and his resilience in the face of physical challenges inspires everyone who meets him. G.I. Joey’s favorite canine companion is his sister Sadie, and they will spend endless time running around and chasing each other. His mom, Maddie, is forever grateful that G.I. Joey is with them to brighten their days.

July 2021

G.I. Joey brings endless joy to his family and in return his mom, Maddy, confesses, “We love him so much, and have spoiled him rotten! He is a delicious, sweet, cuddly, hugger.” G.I. Joey’s best friend is his canine sister, Sadie, who also has special needs. They enjoy running around together, and G.I. Joey loves it when his family pretends to chase him. Says Maddy, “We cannot imagine what our lives would be like without G.I. Joey in it to make us laugh. He reminds us how important it is to make the best of every day.”

March 2021

G.I. Joey remains the same funny and endearing pup who loves his family and bounces around the house with his canine sister, Sadie. Maddy, his mom, gives thanks every day that they had G.I. Joey and Sadie during the coronavirus pandemic. The dogs provided the Zwerling family with hours of love and fun and a reason for taking a break from work and school to go out on walks through the neighborhood. During the winter, if it was too snowy for G.I. Joey’s wheels, Dad would strap on the papoose they purchased and carry him around all snug and warm to see the neighborhood sights. There is no doubt that this dog found the family that he was meant to be with!

November 2020

G.I. Joey is fiercely loyal and protective to the humans and pets that he deems “part of his pack.” His parents are working hard to give him greater confidence around others and have enlisted help from a trainer. It may be that the reason it takes Joey so long to warm up to outsiders has to do with his breed mix — one of which is definitely Chihuahua — and his handicap. Joey’s mom, Maddy, finds it interesting that he never acts out when he visits the veterinarian. With his family, he is the sweetest, warmest, most affectionate companion. He and his sister Sadie (an Animal League America rescue from a puppy mill) look out for each other. For a planned vacation in the mountains, Joey’s parents obtained two “papooses” to strap on and carry the dogs with them on hikes. His family always finds it remarkable how Joey gets around in his wheels given the amount of work and energy it requires of him to move around. They hope that the papoose will give him another means to enjoy his surroundings while feeling secure.

July 2020

G.I. Joey’s mom, Maddy, feels that “Mr. Joey” and his canine sibling, Sadie, are probably a bit confused about the “new normal.” but doesn’t think they mind it too much. “I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like for me, my husband and our daughter, Jenny — who had to come home from college early in the school year — if they weren’t with us. Joey enjoys going from Maddy’s makeshift office in the dining room to my husband’s office in the guest room. At 7:00 pm every evening, they bring him outside on their porch when all the neighbors bang on drums and shake cattle bells in recognition of the healthcare workers on the front lines. Joey adds his two cents by howling as loud as possible. He goes out on walks as much as possible, weather permitting, in his wheels. Some days he’s lazier than others. Maddy feels that he’s a lot like a toddler who, when you agree to hold him, will burrow his head into your shoulder and actually hug you. Joey has his dad wrapped around his back “paw”. One is never too far from the other. His dad often shower him with extra love, kindness, and treats!

March 2020

G.I. Joey, or Mr. Jo Jo, as his family calls him, is doing well. He gets around in the house even without his wheelchair. His mom, Maddy, has many mattresses scattered around the home so he can roam freely. He even has a bean bag set up close to the sofa so he can come down and drink water when he wants to and then get back up and continue to look out the window. With his immediate family, G.I. Joey is a cuddly, mushy, sweet, playful boy who enjoys romping on the beds and playing with his many toys. G.I. Joey loves to sleep on the big bed with Maddy every night. He tucks his head under the covers and falls asleep. Even though he snores, they don’t have the heart to move him. Joey is lucky to have a family who loves him so much and willing to do anything that would make him feel comfortable, safe, and happy. And they are certainly lucky to have Joey!

November 2019

GI Joey’s antics continue to amuse everyone in his household. In true Chihuahua fashion, he is very bonded with the family, and canine sister Sadie, but reserved and wary with people and animals outside of his social circle. G.I. Joey doesn’t mind getting dressed at all, especially in the colder weather, and looks very dapper in his pilot bomber jacket. He enjoys traveling by car and seeing new places. Joey gets along very well in his cart and loves taking long walks through the neighborhood.

July 2019

GI Joey is a loving, mushy, funny Chihuahua mix. He plays, hugs, and kisses all of the members of the family. “We love him so much and there isn’t anything we wouldn’t do for him!” says his mom, Maddy. She tells us that Joey and her husband, Andy, are inseparable and she always finds Joey in his arms when he is at home. Joey loves to jump and run around on their beds. He lets them know when he needs to go outside and rarely has an accident in the house. In good weather, the family takes Joey on long walks. “We are always amazed how Joey’s little body is able to push the cart and get around so well,” mom commented. They are planning on a road trip with Joey and canine sister, Sadie, soon!

March 2019

GI Joey is simply the “love of our lives,” says mom Maddy. She also said that he has a mind of his own and is quite particular about the people and other animals he likes. Luckily, he loves his canine sister, Sadie, another puppy mill rescue from Animal League America. Maddy said they are inseparable, sleeping together, eating together, and playing together. Joey is a good little cuddler who also loves walks in his mobility cart, always following Sadie’s lead. Maddy said that that Joey is “spoiled rotten, and deserves it!” We agree and know his Sponsors do, too.

November 2018

G.I. Joey had a summer for the ages. His family bought him a raft for the pool. “He loved it and he became so relaxed that he would fall asleep while sailing in it. We started referring to him as the captain of his ship,” his mom, Maddy said. “Our other rescue dog Sadie, a puppy mill rescue from Animal League America, would also sail around on it. Don’t worry I was always next to them. Joey also discovered a passion for watermelon this summer too!” Winter now brings Joey the opportunity to embrace his cuddly side with his family in the comfort of their home. He enjoys taking walks in his cart when the weather permits, always following his canine sister’s lead. He tries to do anything that she does. Thanks to his generous Sponsors, this little survivor will always have his family by his side.

March 2018

Does any pet have it better than GI Joey? This little fella was adopted by the Zwerling Family in 2016 and has since become the center of their world. Joey hops around and plays with his siblings, both canine and human alike, only stopping when he feels like curling up on a welcoming lap. His mom, Maddy, says Joey is an energetic pooch who has no idea that he’s disabled. Thanks to the overwhelming support of his Sponsor Parents, this boy is living the life he was always meant to live!

December 2017

Being the canine king of his castle is GI Joey’s favorite pastime since becoming part of his adopted family, but don’t tell that to his doggy siblings Chester and Sadie. This little survivor endured so much before finding a responsible, loving home where he can bask in the spoils of being the center of attention. His mom said Joey is the same rambunctious, fun-loving pooch he’s been since he was adopted into the family. When he’s not hopping around like a little kangaroo and playing with Sadie and Chester, Joey is curled up on his mom’s chest or snuggled under the covers in the beds of his human siblings. Thanks to all of his amazing sponsor parents, Joey seems to be living the type
of life that we wish for all of our rescue pets.

September 2017

G.I. Joey continues to be a dear, funny, rambunctious, mischievous member of his human family! According to his mom, Maddie, Joey is certainly a member of the pack made up of Chester, a 12-year-old Schnauzer/Shi Tzu mix, and Sadie, a 4 year-old Silky Terrier, adopted from Animal League America as a puppy mill rescue two years ago. She says that Joey doesn’t always love his walking cart, but through constant encouragement and treats, he’ll use it willingly. Joey and Sadie are terrific pals, often sharing toys and sleeping side by side. Maddie says that Joey is very spoiled and can often be found in the arms of his human family members. Over the summer Joey enjoyed the warm weather and lounged on a raft in the pool surrounded by the ones he loves. A special life for a very special dog!

June 2017

G.I. Joey is deeply loved by every member of his family. His 25-year-old human sister, who lives in New York City, comes home on weekends just to spend time with Joey. His human brother, Jason, is in his last semester away at college, but whenever he’s home, you can find Joey in his arms. And his 16-year-old sister, Jenny, can often be found playfully debating with mom, Maddy, over who Joey loves more. While the whole family is competing for time to spoil their little pal, dad, Andy, is doing everything and anything to show Joey his love, including providing him with extra treats and belly rubs whenever he gets the chance. Oh, and don’t forget his canine sister, Sadie. She and Joey can be found playing together constantly, which is a welcomed sight to the family. There’s no doubt that Joey has his entire family in love with him.

March 2017

G.I. Joey is funny, sweet and super clever at times (especially when it comes to finding a way to get extra treats). Joey enjoys burying himself under the covers and staying there! He loves to “run” around on the bed and it seems to help him blow off some puppy steam! With the help of large bean bags close by, Joey can easily jump up onto the couch so he can look out the window with his human brother and sister.

December 2016

G.I. Joey has been enjoying the cooler weather and plenty of outside-time with his family. Joe-Joe is also lucky to be sponsored by Congresswoman Rice along with Darby and hopped in excitement to meet her. It wasn’t long before G.I. Joey climbed into Congresswoman Rice’s lap for some cuddle time and stole her heart. His family wasn’t surprised since he’s such a charmer who has that effect on most people he meets. Visit for the full story and more!

September 2016

G.I. Joey (or ′our Joe-Joe′ as his family likes to call him) loves the grass and being outdoors. His family has taken him into their pool (which he seems to enjoy quite a bit) so long as he’s held in a certain way! They take him for walks in his cart where he can be a smart, spoiled devil who knows if he stops walking his family will place a treat in front of him to gobble up and get him going again. And, they wouldn’t have him any other way. He is 100% part of their family and his canine sister, Sadie, and doggy brother, Chester, will only nap with delightful Joe-Joe. Overall G.I. Joey is doing way better than his family ever expected and they can′t imagine life without him!

June 2016

Good news-Joey has been adopted by a devoted volunteer here! His new family, including a human sister and two canine siblings lovingly welcomed him home. He is a loving, sweet, friendly, fearless dog and he does not let his disability slow him down. He loves to hop and jump! Dr. Verdino made some adjustments to his cart and it now fi ts Joey perfectly. Joey is becoming more comfortable in his cart with each and every walk he goes on with his canine siblings. He likes being on the leash when he uses the cart which his mom thinks makes him feel just like his canine siblings. Joey and his family wish to thank all his wonderful sponsors for their support.

March 2016

G.I. Joey’s foster mom, Annie, who works in our Medical Center, was delighted when the Zwerlings welcomed him home to be treasured forever. “Joey is a joy,” says mom Maddy, who is also a volunteer here. “Once I saw and held him, I just fell in love. He sort of melts into you, and he’s so inspirational. He’s really such a happy dog. All he wants is to play and be with you, like any puppy. I’m lucky to have a supportive family. My daughter Jenny loves him, Joey is as sweet as sugar and is already part of our family, snuggling and stealing the heart of everyone he meets.” And thanks to the love of this remarkable family — and your ongoing compassion — Joey will have a chance to be the incredible pup he was meant to be for years to come.