Derrick Campana is an animal orthotist who has saved more than 20,000 pets with his custom-made prosthetics. Campana, who’s from Sterling, Virginia, creates braces and artificial limbs to increase animals' mobility and improve their lives.
According to the Washington Business Journal, Campana is one of just 10 people in the world who make prosthetics for animals.
He sends kits to veterinarians and pet owners so they can cast molds of their patients or pets, then based on the mold he crafts a personalized brace or prosthetic out of thermoplastic material.
He went to school to learn how to fit humans for orthotics and prosthetics, but after a request to create a limb for a chocolate lab, he ventured into pet orthotics and never looked back.
"I was doing the whole 'human thing,' … but a vet brought in her dog, who needed a prosthetic, to my human practice,” Campana told AOL. “I made a prosthetic that was a success, and I immediately knew that this was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.”
He’s built prosthetics for birds, horses, sheep, camels, gazelles, and even elephants.
While they normally have to be paid for out-of-pocket, they’re far less expensive than surgery. They cost about $500 to $1,000 a piece, whereas, for example, surgery to fix a dog's torn ACL can cost up to $3,300, according to Consumer Reports.
Campana says you can add at least two years to a dog’s life by adding a prosthetic.
"If you bring a dog in with a fractured toe, a traditional vet might amputate the entire limb," Campana told AOL. "But even though people say 'my dog does pretty well on three legs,' when you hop on one leg, the rest of your body can break down so quickly.”
The prosthetics make these animals’ lives better, and in turn animal owners can enjoy their pet’s companionship longer.