The 'Wizard of Paws' Fits Prosthetics For Any Animal
Reprinted from Good News Network website...
When an animal faces the loss of mobility—especially when there’s an amputation involved—the impact can be devastating. Until not all that long ago, chances for a normal life were slim. If only someone could come up with a solution, imagine the difference it could make to countless lives? Well, someone has. Derrick Campana, star of BYUtv’s Wizard of Paws, a pioneer in the field of prosthetics and orthotics for animals, is kind of like what you’d get if you crossed Dr. Dolittle with the Six Million Dollar Man.
Since 2005, Campana’s “pet fitters” Bionic Pets and Animal Ortho Care have been building custom-made mobility devices for animals of all sizes and descriptions from cats and dogs, to eagles, tortoises, cows, foxes, camels, goats—and even a six-ton African elephant.
In Wizard of Paws, with his wing-dog, Henry riding shotgun, Campana travels the U.S. creating custom-designed devices to help pets with a variety of mobility issues.
“It’s about making families whole again,” Campana told People. “I get to build these prosthetics at their houses. I get to experience the joy on the animals’ faces and [those] families’ faces as they walk again.”
At his home base in Sterling, Virginia, Campana spends much of his time doing fittings and casting molds in order to create the forms he painstakingly hand-sculpts; finishing the devices with vacuum-formed plastic and a variety of other materials.
Animal Ortho Care also currently ships casting kits all over the world. Compana hopes to broaden his outreach with advances in cost-effective 3-D printing technology—and since every animal that comes to him presents its own unique puzzle, expanding horizons and searching for new solutions is what Campana is all about. “It’s always interesting, never boring and I’m constantly learning,” he told VPM-News. “Being able to combine [my] passion for building with helping animals is just an awesome thing. I’ve created my own industry here, so it’s kinda living the dream.”
One of the most important parts of Campana’s mission is educating both pet owners and veterinarians about new and emerging options for care. He admits when he first started out, he got push-back from veterinary doctors trained in more traditional methods who didn’t fully grasp the potential benefits of orthotics and prosthetics for animal applications.
However, since then, he’s been steadily been striving to show how such devices can actually offer better outcomes—including less post-surgical downtime, and in some cases, eliminating the need for surgery altogether. These days, the feedback he’s getting is pretty much resoundingly positive. For Campana, it’s easy to be a cheerleader when you truly love what you’re doing.
“Seeing dogs wag their tails; their eyes kind of sparkle again, that moment when they haven’t walked in the last couple of years or maybe they’ve never walked before in their lives… You see them just run and get up and those are the moments that I kind of live for, and that’s why I do what I do,” he told VPM. “I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d be helping animals all over the world or even helping animals in general. It’s not something you think of as a child because it never existed but if you have that idea, go for it. And if you’re passionate about it, go as hard as you can for as long as you can and you can make a huge difference in your life and in the life of so many [others].”