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Prosthetics Help Injured Animals Lead Normal Lives

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A Georgia puppy, bred to be a service dog, faced an unexpected challenge after he was born without a foot. The puppies at Alpharetta, Georgia's Canine Assistants are groomed for a life helping the disabled to have independence, confidence and happiness -- yet the pup was himself disabled.

"If we were to say 'no, we reject this puppy based on a physical issue,' we would be horrible hypocrites," said founder Jennifer Arnold. So the puppy, now three-months-old, is getting help of his own: a new foot.

Arnold and the other folks at Canine Assistants have named the puppy Pirelli -- after the tires -- because, "He needs a retread." As for what went wrong in the womb? "What we think happened is the umbilical cord got wrapped around his foot and caused that foot to not have a normal blood supply," explained Canine Assistants veterinarian Dr. Kent Bruner.

Pirelli must wait until he's seven-months-old to get his new foot, and will wear a cushioned boot in the meantime.

"I think the fact that he has a disability of his own is going to be incredible in teaching people that it's irrelevant, that life is not about what your body can do. It's about who you are on the inside not the outside. I want Pirelli to go into schools and say when you judge whether or not you want someone to be your friend, don't look at their bodies. That's not where you need to look," said Arnold.

3 Other Animals With Prosthetics

Pirelli is far from the first animal aided by modern science in this way. Here are three others who've gotten a hand -- or other limb:

Oscar the Cat

Oscar lost his two rear legs in an accident with a combine harvester. The operating vet referred Oscar's owners to a veterinary surgeon who specializes in state-of-the-art animal medicine, Dr. Noel Fitzpatrick, who agreed to take on the new patient. Oscar was surgically fit with implants that can eventually be attached to prosthetic paws. The surgery made Oscar notable as the first cat to ever have prosthetic paws.

Naki'o the Dog

In 2011, Naki’o became the first dog in the world to be fitted with a full set of bionic paws from Orthopets, a leader in the pet prosthetics industry. The paws are so well attached that he can run and swim just as he did before the accident.

Naki’o lost his paws due to severe frostbite after his previous owners abandoned him to fend for himself throughout the freezing winter in Nebraska. Despite the fact that the pup had to crawl on his stomach to move, he found a loving adoptive family who worked tirelessly to raise the money to get Naki’o the prosthetics he desperately needed.

Boonie the Goat

Boonie lost his leg after getting tangled in a rope in 2008. He broke the limb so badly, it had to be amputated. Fortunately, Boonie’s owner cared enough about the little guy to get in touch with Orthopets, the same company that would later help Naki’o.
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