by Taetske | 6:46 pm
(Last Updated On: August 8, 2018)

The paws doctor

 

The magic of the “Paws Doctor”, Derrick Campana

Normally, when you open the newspaper or look at the news on the TV, more often than not what you see is sad, upsetting, disgusting… you name it. Humans being mean to other humans, humans destroying the planet and humans being cruel to animals.  It is seldom you are confronted with something positive and that is why I would like to tell you this story.

 

cat with rabbit

Cat with Rabbit

How it all began

Derrick Campana, a 39-year-old North American, studied sports medicine and kinesiology, specializing in prostheses and human orthopedic.  Then it happened.  One day, Charles entered his lab. Now, Charles was a black Labrador retriever who had a real problem. He was suffering from a very unusual genetic malformation, because of which, his paws resembled the claws of a lobster. The owner of Charles, who happened to be a veterinarian, was at wit’s end for treating Charles.  Because his boss was out of the office, Derrick studied the problem and came up with a solution that functioned.  This is 13 years ago and Derrick has helped 20,000 animals since then. Animals who were limping from birth or because of an illness, accident or amputation. The variety of animals helped by Derrick is amazing, going from elephants to cranes and all species in between, dogs, cats, llamas, horses, deer, rabbits, owls, eagles as well as a ram from Tarragona, Spain.

 

The company of Derrick which is in Sterling, Virginia receives daily tens of petitions from all over the world.  These people hope to find help from Derrick as a last resort.  Often, he has tried out contraptions of his own design to see if they are feasible.  Animals do not have the problem humans have regarding how they look. Animals just recover their confidence, wag their tail and start running.  Derrick is a pioneer in a specialty where only 10 other individuals are practicing in the world.

 

ram

Ram

 

The story of Felix the Ram

The story of Felix is really amazing. He was attacked by a group of dogs and badly wounded. He arrived at the Santuario El Hogar in Tarragona, where it was identified that because of a fall while being attacked, his front legs were completely shattered and pointing backward.  Last summer, Derrick was in Spain and he designed a prosthesis for Felix.  Derrick said this was his most unusual case because he had to reestablish equilibrium, so Felix could move about.

 

street dog

Street Dog

 

The emotional story of ChiChi, the Chinese dog

Perhaps, you know that in China, people eat dog meat.  It is a dreadful sight to see so many dogs, all shapes and sizes pressed into boxes awaiting their fate. ChiChi was found hanging upside-down, tied by the legs with metal wire in one of those Chinese meat markets.  To save her life, her four feet had to be amputated.  Normally, in a meat market, cuts are performed with a meat cleaver and this crushes the bones and leaves very sharp points.  Luckily, the amputations were done by a qualified vet, performed in his operating room and with clean cuts.  Even if this was a very delicate case, Derick was able to provide ChiChi with four prostheses and ChiChi is able to play and run and is very happy.  Derrick says of all the animals he has treated, ChiChi is one of his favorite cases.

 

elephant in India

Elephant in India

Jabu, the African elephant weighing 6 metric tons

Jabu could not walk because he had a bad wound along with serious arthritis. For Derrick, this posed a problem because he had nothing of this size in his lab.  Therefore, he had to special order a large number of components for this huge prosthesis. But in the end, it was a complete success. Derrick treated more elephants like Mosha and Motala, two Asian elephants.  These poor animals lost their feet, stepping on a landmine.  But because of his experience with Jabu, he had practical experience, and the elephant is an ideal patient.  They follow orders, put out their foot when asked and let you try out components without complaining. Not to be compared to dogs, which often are too nervous to be handled or worse, cats as they are capable of doing anything to get rid of this strange attachment to their body.

 

The combination of Technology and handcrafted prosthesis

Derrick makes these prostheses from plastics that are malleable at high temperatures. This enables the owner of the animal to adjust the prosthesis by heating it with a hairdryer. He also uses other materials like carbon fiber, titanium, stainless steel, and foams.  The material of construction depends on whether the animal lives in the home or outside. He has even, on some occasions, used prototypes made with 3-D technology.   But many times, it is pure handwork where you have to sculpt the prosthesis to fit exactly to the receiving body part. Sometimes the difficulty comes from the type of wound and it may take many nights to find the solution. Such was the case of Ebony, a street dog who had an amputation very high on the shoulder. In total, 10 different models were made before Derrick found the ideal solution.

 

In 80% of the cases, Derrick cannot visit the patient personally.  If that is the case, he will send a kit to the caretaker/owner so they are able to take a mold of the stump, then send this back to Derrick’s lab.  It may be that this mold has to be refitted and travels back and forth many times before it is completed and the animal is comfortable. Derrick often uses Skype so he can see how the prosthesis has adapted.

Over the years, many people remain in contact and Derrick receives loads of Christmas and Thanksgiving cards.

 

Discovery launches DoDo Heroes

Discovery Channel has associated its self with The Dodo, which is the major platform in the world of digital content (2,000,000,000 video hits a month.)  A lot of these stories are moving, funny or spectacular, where the protagonist often is an individual with four feet.

On Sunday the 10th of June, Dodo Heroes was launched worldwide. The story of Derrick Campana is the third chapter of the weekly series.

 

Conclusion

This is one of the stories that give hope to humankind when there are people who dedicate their lives to helping animals.  As Derrick says “A wounded animal is sad. When you make them a prosthesis, they regain their confidence and are happy again.”

 


Source: The SUR newspaper of 2 June 2018, story by Ines Gallastegui

Photo Source: Pixabay

 

There are more exceptional people in this world, perhaps you like to read about Felix, a 9-year-old German boy who started a movement.

Reforestation, Amazing Vision of a Young Boy.

 

 

Comments

Mike Viray

This is great. this is exactly one of those positive advancement where technology can be put to great use. I am an animal lover and news like this warms me up inside. Kudos to the men and women dedicating their time and careers to help animals through prosthesis equipment.

Hopefully the general public can be more aware of this. Articles like this are great.

Aug 08.2018 | 11:17 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Mike,

    Thank you for leaving a comment on my post about Dr. Campana. I also find it very up lifting to read these positive stories. There are many good people in this world who do anything to help animals in need. I am happy you liked my article and I hope you will visit again.

    Regards, Taetske

    Aug 09.2018 | 06:33 am

Kenny

Hi and what a really easy to read and inspiring site. Your visuals truly jump to life and highlight what your conveying to your site visitors. I am touched by the moving stories of all the animals on here. I am glad you are bringing attention to this and I hope you will post more about this topic in the future. Thanks Kenny 

Oct 11.2018 | 10:25 am

    Taetske

    Good Morning Kenny,

    I am happy to hear you like my site and enjoyed reading the story about Dr. Campana. He is an amazing man doing fascinating work. He gives animals a second chance in life. I think this is a beautiful story and I hope that many people will read it. Animals are our friends and we should take good care of them.

    Thank you for your comment and I hope to see you again.

    Regards, Taetske

    Oct 11.2018 | 11:03 am

Anita

Wow the stories are so moving, considering my love for animals Derrick Campana is my icon. I follow The Dodo online and can’t help shed a tear every time a go through a story of a transformed animal. The world needs more people like him to embrace all creatures. Continue sharing stories like this to motivate more people to come out and help make this world a better place.

Oct 11.2018 | 10:30 am

    Taetske

    Good Morning Anita,

    Thank you for your comment. I fully agree with you. These stories also move me so I have to write about it. I wish we would understand that animals and nature, in general, all form part of creation and that we should take good care of it all. We should learn to enjoy instead of destroying.

    Regards, Taetske

    Oct 11.2018 | 10:56 am

Albert

Hello Taetske,

I am an animal lover and usually the news is not good. Usually, we are hearing stories of how humans are destroying nature for their pleasures.

I really enjoyed reading theses stories of Derrick because it made me feel that there is a light in the darkness and there are people who actually care about nature and animals.

The pictures of the calm ChiChi and giant Jabu made my day.

Do you know of other institutions where they get help from normal people as well? I want to see if I can be part of if.

Thank you for sharing these great stories.

Best,

Albert

Oct 11.2018 | 10:35 am

    Taetske

    Good Morning Albert,

    Thank you for commenting on my website. Good to hear you are also an animal lover just like me. It is very uplifting to find such a positive story to write about. The world needs more people like Dr. Campana.

    As to your question I do not know of any place where ” normal ” people can go and offer their help. You could try in your local animal shelter. Normally these places can always use an extra hand. To keep the abandoned dogs and cats company and also take them out for a walk.

    Another idea might be to contact Dr. Campana home office, the link is in my article. They might be able to help you. Good luck.

    Regards, Taetske

    Oct 11.2018 | 11:09 am

Kent

I’ve always loved animals and I admire people who go the extra steps to show kindness to them. Reading about stories like this restores my faith that there are still good people in the world, because like you said the news don’t paint a good picture at all.

I’m glad there are people who help the animals which are usually considered not as important, but in my opinion they deserve a good life just as much as humans do. I’m glad this paws doctor exist and wish there are more people like him.

Oct 11.2018 | 10:50 am

    Taetske

    Good Morning Kent,

    Thank you for leaving a comment on my post on Dr. Campana. He is an admirable man dedicating his life to helping animals. At the moment there are only a few people worldwide with this type of skill but I hope more young people will come with the wish to learn.

    I was also happy to read this positive story so I had to write about it.

    Regards, Taetske

    Oct 12.2018 | 06:43 am

Kisumu

I haven’t heard any of these stories, it is so amazing! I really hope that once – hopefully sooner than later – this technique will spread around the world.You really have collected very interesting stories to share.I hope that many more people will join them and learn from them. Do you know if they provide education for vets as well? It would be so beneficial if vet trainees could go to them and bring back to their homes and spread their knowledge.

Oct 11.2018 | 11:33 am

    Taetske

    Good Morning Kisumu,

    At this moment there are still only a few specialists who dedicate their lives to helping animals this way. If you are interested to know more you can contact Dr. Campana at his home office, I have the link in my post.

    Thank you for visiting my website, I hope to see you again.

    Regards, Taetske

    Oct 12.2018 | 06:39 am

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