When Bandit the stray dog first arrived at the Gwinnett Jail Dogs Program in metro Atlanta, he had heartworms. Due to a rare side effect of treatment, the pup suffered paralysis of his back legs. But that didn't stop him from being the star dog in the program, which pairs inmates with homeless dogs. Inmates learn patience and compassion by giving the pups foster care and training. In doing so, they're preparing the dogs for their forever homes.

Bandit quickly became a favorite, learning tricks and commands, and now he's the program's unofficial mascot. The pup never let his disability get in the way, easily zooming to high speeds in his specially made cart.

Bandit was soon adopted to a happy home ... but he was returned — a heartbreaking scene that has played out several times.

Now Bandit is back for the fourth time at the jail, waiting again for his perfect home. Representatives for the program point out that it's not Bandit's happy-go-lucky personality that's the problem. Having a partially paralyzed dog requires some special attention. Bandit needs help going to the bathroom and getting in and out of his cart. It's a responsibility not everyone can handle.

But it seems like Bandit is worth it.

"Bandit will bring so much love to your home and make your life a little brighter," says his Facebook profile.

A program favorite

The 8-year-old shepherd mix is certainly a favorite in the program and for people who follow along on social media. Because so many people have asked about Bandit's care, the group put together several videos explaining what it takes to make Bandit a part of the family.

"Bandit is loved by all that meet him," program volunteer Lori Cronin tells MNN. "His handlers have nothing but great things to say about him and want nothing more than to see him find his forever home. Bandit is a very easy-going guy that loves nothing more than to be in the company of others."

Bandit poses with his handlers in the program. Bandit poses with his handlers in the program. (Photo: Gwinnett Jail Dogs Program)

Bandit's ideal home would be with someone who can be with him most of the time and can keep him on a schedule. He needs someone who is able to lift the nearly 40-pound dog in and out of his cart and get him out and about because he is a happy, social dog, Cronin says. He loves tennis balls and will play tug of war with pretty much anything.

"He needs to be an indoor companion where he can continue getting the love and support he needs," she says. "Bandit was recently taking to an off-site event where he was adored by all. He was even voted 'Best in Show' by the public and people participating in the event."

Hopefully the fifth time will be a charm for patient Bandit, but there's always a loving home for him at the jail until then.

"He is a real trooper and will be with us until his forever family find him," according to a Gwinnett Jail Dogs Program Facebook post. "We love Bandit and know there is a special someone(s) out there that will love him as much as we do!"

If you think Bandit might be the perfect dog for you, fill out an application here.

Mary Jo DiLonardo writes about everything from health to parenting — and anything that helps explain why her dog does what he does.

Bandit the wheelchair-bound dog is ready for his next chapter
Bandit has been returned 4 times, and now he's back with his inmate handlers, but he's still looking for his forever home.