St Albans man invents harness to help disabled dogs

DOGS are well known for showing dedication when guiding the blind and assisting those with physical disabilities.

But a St Albans man has reversed that role and created a special harness that lets people help their disabled pets walk again.

Vikram Jashapara, of Old Parkbury Lane, St Albans, has invented and recently launched a full body harness, which helps dogs suffering from cruciate ligament injuries, hip and elbow dysplasia, spinal problems and arthritis.

He has a dog rehabilitation centre where he does a lot of free work – dog swims – for the likes of Battersea and the RSPCA.

Vikram, 44, explained: “The reason I do this for free is because simply I love dogs and it’s my way of giving something back.”

His own dog, Quincy, fell ill and ended up having a leg removed after contracting MRSA. Vikram had a special pool installed to help him regain movement but his concern for Quincy and other dogs got him pondering how pets could be helped with their recovery outside the pool.

Vikram said: “No matter how much swimming he did he didn’t improve.”

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After a lot of trial and error he designed a full body harness, which comes in three sizes and goes around a pet’s chest and under its legs. This is then attached to a harness worn by its owner, linked by an adjustable clip-on lead.

Vikram explained: “You are not taking the full weight of the dog off, you are supporting it. You are taking the pressure off so when it is walking, it is using its back legs. Your body takes the weight off the legs.

“An old woman of 80 could walk a great Dane without any problems at all. It is your centre of gravity taking the weight.”

Vikram said that he had met people who had remortgaged properties to be able to afford rehabilitation care for their pets. His �150 harness is covered by some pet insurance policies when recommended by a vet.

It works in conjunction with the likes of hydrotherapy to help dogs build up muscles outside the pool.

Vikram got the idea for the harness after studying dogs’ movements in the pool, as he has been involved in hydrotherapy for nine years.

He admits his invention surprised him as his background is in the finance sector: “I had a mortgage finance company. It was one of the largest in the country. I always felt that because I was successful and I had made it, coming from nothing to that, I wanted to give something back.

“I love animals but I would never have guessed I would do something like this. What happened to my dog gave me something to do. I feel passionate about dogs.”