Prosthetics company creates device for injured dog at the Humane Society of Carroll County

Posted at 1:30 PM, Oct 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-27 23:44:54-04

It's a warm sunny day on the sprawling property of the Humane Society of Carroll County.  In one of the pens, Oprah the dog runs free, taking in the fresh air.

"She's just happy to be out like all the dogs are," said Charlie Twigg, a volunteer at the shelter, as he watches her enjoying her outdoor time.

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Twigg knows Oprah well.  He's been working with her ever since she came to the shelter back in May, underweight, injured and terrified.

"It was clear to me when I started going into the cage with her that she was going to be an affable dog," he said.  "She was just unsure."

Tune in to ABC2 News at 11 Friday to watch Oprah take her first steps and learn about another special surprise the staff at the Humane Society of Carroll County have in store for her.

Michelle Fidler, the director of animal care, remembers vividly how scared Oprah was when she first arrived.

"She was a handful.  She came to us very unsocialized, very untrusting of people.  It's like she wasn't sure what a human being was, she had never been shown love or care."

Fidler says not only was Oprah terrified of people, she was about 20 pounds underweight and had a serious injury to her back right leg.  Fider says it's a suspected case of neglect.

"She had gotten tangled up in some wire fencing and the foot just rotted off and healed over," Fidler said.

An injury like that would normally mean an amputation, but the staff at the shelter had another idea.  What about a prosthetic?  Could it work for a dog?  They did an Internet search and stumbled upon a group called D&J Medical and prosthetist John Beeler.

"Of course we jumped on it.  We do humans all the time so to do a dog, especially helping an abused dog, it was a good thing for us," he said.

Beeler and his team came to the shelter, evaluated Oprah's bad leg, then made a cast.  They took that cast to their workshop, where Beeler and his co-worker Dominic Harris began the meticulous process of constructing the brace.

"We do most everything with our hands because we can see what's going on with the cast, like extra bumps," Beeler said.

The plan is to make a brace that will fit over Oprah's scarred leg and create a "paw" attached to the bottom.  It can take about two weeks to build.  This is the first time in Beeler's long career in prosthetics that he's ever made such a device for a dog.  And that's what he loves most about his job.

"I get to do something different everyday, no two days are the same," he said.

Beeler said the process of making a brace and prosthetic for Oprah is very similar to one for a human.  The only difference is he must come up with a way to make sure his patient doesn't chew on her new leg.  He's done his research on different remedies, but hasn't decided which one will work best.

Back at the shelter, Oprah continues to go about her daily routine on three legs.  Her caretakers are eager to see what Beeler and his team come up with to give her the ability to put weight on all four legs for the first time in a long time.

"I'm excited to see her using it," said Fidler.  "I'm curious to see how it will go as much as I am excited."

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