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Mini Donkey Adjusting Well To Artificial Leg
Fitting a horse with a prosthetic limb is not new. But a recent case broke new ground – fitting a newborn foal with a prosthetic limb. Emma, a miniature donkey foal, was born with a severe hind limb deformity that required amputation. She was taken to Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in Alabama when she was just two days old in late April, 2012. Five months later she’s doing fine.
  “Emma hasn’t known anything other than a prosthetic limb. That’s worked in our favor in getting her accustomed to it,” says Dr. Fred Caldwell, DVM, lead veterinarian and surgeon at Auburn.
  He and his team are working with Hanger Clinic, which makes and fits prosthetics for humans and occasionally for animals, including a prosthetic tail for a dolphin featured in a recent movie. Staff at the clinic created the limb for Emma, made of carbon fiber, Kevlar and fiberglass so it’s lightweight but strong.
  Emma lives at a farm near the college, so Caldwell or members of his team can check up on her regularly.
  “She’s doing very well,” Caldwell says. “She had pressure sore issues to overcome, but we have managed them by tweaking the fit of the prosthesis.”
  Emma is the vet’s first experience with prosthetics, and he says it’s been a learning experience that is important to his field.
  “The more cases we have available to us, the more we learn, and it hopefully can become an option for larger animals,” he says.
  “Emma’s owner hopes Emma can work as a therapy animal with kids who have disabilities and service men and women dealing with losing a limb,” Caldwell notes.
  The miniature donkey weighed about 50 lbs. this fall, and will only weigh about 350 lbs. full grown. Between now and then she will continue to be outfitted with new prosthetics as she outgrows them.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Fred Caldwell, DVM, J.T. Vaughan Large Animal Teaching Hospital, 1500 Wire Rd., Auburn, Ala. 36849 (ph 334 844-4490; www.vetmed.auburn.edu).

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2012 - Volume #36, Issue #6