TOPICS > NewsHour Shares

Helping animals walk again is this man’s passion

May 23, 2017 at 6:10 PM EDT
In our NewsHour Shares moment of the day, we take a look at one Virginia man who has dedicated his life to assisting animals with disabilities by fabricating braces and prosthetics fit for Fido.
LISTENSEE PODCASTS

HARI SREENIVASAN: Now to our NewsHour Shares, something that caught our eye, that may be of interest to you, too.

Disabled animals sometimes need a helping hand in order to walk again. One Virginia man dedicated his life to making sure they get that much-needed leg up.

The NewsHour’s Julia Griffin explains.

JULIA GRIFFIN: That hum of machinery filling this Northern Virginia workshop means Derrick Campana is hard at work.

DERRICK CAMPANA, CEO, Animal Ortho Care: This is one of the more final steps in the fabrication process.

JULIA GRIFFIN: What he and his team are fabricating are artificial limbs, not for humans, like many orthotists, but for equally rewarding patients.

Campana is the one of the world’s go-to experts for animal braces and prosthetics, a passion that started more than 12 years ago.

DERRICK CAMPANA: A veterinarian came to my office, and she brought a dog that needed a prosthesis. And, at the time, it was so strange to me that someone would even do that.

And I gave it a shot, and it was successful. So, a light bulb went off and I said, oh, let’s start a business. I’m sure there’s tons of animals in need out there.

JULIA GRIFFIN: Animals like Angel Marie, a pony whose front legs were crushed at birth.

Owner Lennie Green:

LENNIE GREEN, Angel Marie’s Owner: Kids just love her to death, and she loves kids. So it’s really a great thing. The prosthetics, if it wasn’t for that, she would have never made it.

JULIA GRIFFIN: But there’s also been goats, rams, and even two elephants in Thailand.

DERRICK CAMPANA: So, there’s Mosha and Motala. And they both lost their legs due to land mines. They have had prosthetic devices, but they wanted an updated one because they are using different materials than we would use over here. So we’re able to help create those new prosthetics for them.

JULIA GRIFFIN: Exotic animals aside, Campana estimates 90 percent of the more than 10,000 patients he’s treated are man’s best friend.

DERRICK CAMPANA: We love the stories where, every morning, the dog will bring the device to the owner’s feet and say, hey, it’s time to get up and walk and be a dog again.

JULIA GRIFFIN: Derby is one of his most famous.

DERRICK CAMPANA: Derby is one of those congenital cases, birth defect. We were able to 3-D-scan the legs and design these legs in 3-D upon these positive molds and build these three-dimensional plastic prostheses with a 3-D printer.

JULIA GRIFFIN: He can’t help every patient, Campana is glad prosthetics can be an alternative to costly surgeries or putting an animal down.

DERRICK CAMPANA: Seeing those dogs walk again, and their tails wag, and their eyes glitter again, and it’s just the best feeling in the world. And it’s a job I will do until I die.

JULIA GRIFFIN: Well, there you go, Fido.

Actually, for the record, that dog’s name is Kenna.

For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Julia Griffin in Sterling, Virginia.

SHARE VIA TEXT