Wizard of Paws' Derrick Campana “is proving a healthy and happy life is possible through creatively engineered orthotics and custom prosthetics.” And, beyond bionics, here are three ways we can support injured and suffering animals.
Bionic Pets owner Derrick Campana has an impressive life purpose: “help as many animals as he can in his lifetime and even the playing field between animals and humans as far as treatment options available.”
Pet Therapies Replacing Euthanasia and Pain
He’s off to a stellar start, having restored mobility to over 25,000 animals who were facing euthanasia or a life of pain. And although he’s fast becoming a public personality, Campana is quick to focus attention back on his goal.
Per an article in the Washington Business Journal,“It’s all about awareness,” explains Campana, “and people just aren’t aware that these types of therapies exist, and if they did and they knew they were cost-effective and could really extend the life of their pet, that’s just my goal, is to help all of these animals.”
The first season of Campana’s show, Wizard of Paws (recently launched on byutv.org), provides an inspiring look into what happens when an animal regains its mobility and zest for life―not only pets like dogs and cats, but also an adorable dwarf pony named Lighting born with congenital limb deformities; and a rambunctious pot-belly pig named Bert, who suffers from a connective tissue disorder causing him to painfully walk on his four ankles. Each episode is chock-full of interspecies love and genuine hope.
Indeed, I wish I had known of cutting-edge technologies like Campana’s when our little ginger kitten suffered a mysterious injury. My husband found Max behind our house, panting heavily and unable to use his back legs. Lighting fast, we transported him to our local vet, who administered an IV in hopes of prompting circulation as we were sent home for the night. In the morning, our vet proclaimed there was nothing he could do. Sobbing, we said our goodbyes; I read a blessing; and we held Max’s furry body as he was euthanized. My husband and I have questioned this choice ever since.
Pet Prosthetics and Orthocare
Whether due to accidents―or other issues like birth abnormalities or tumors―mobility-challenged animals have their lives cut short as humans make difficult decisions on their behalf. Yet Campana, and a handful of other pioneers, is proving a healthy and happy life is possible through creatively engineered orthotics and custom prosthetics.
And companies such as K9 Carts and Eddie’s Wheels provide rugged wheelchairs for pets. Yet many of us are unaware of these life-giving options, which are often safer and less expensive than surgeries.
Although helping an animal get used to their new life can be time-consuming, and not every injured animal is a candidate for these new methods, their increasing popularity shows a shift in how humans recognize the value of animal lives and the lengths we are willing to go to help them. While I have yet to find an action that would have helped our dear Max, I am much better educated on how to advocate for and care for injured pets.
Pets aren’t the only animals benefiting from new technologies. Campana has also assisted an elephant, birds, and other wild animals. Midwestern University provided a tailless alligator named Mr. Stubbs―who was liberated from exotic animal traffickers―a 3D-printed tail, returning his ability to swim. Brazilian-based Animal Avengers, a group of volunteer veterinarians and 3D computer modeling experts led by a local dentist, have given wounded birds new beaks and bills.
Why Saving Animal Lives Matters
Theologian and humanitarian Albert Schweitzer observed, “Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace.” Our relationships with other species not only help them, but affect us too.
Recent studies show that treating animals well can lead to us behaving better toward other humans. One study using rescue dogs in elementary education showed “the program significantly alters students’ normative beliefs about aggression, levels of empathy, and displays of violent and aggressive behavior.” (Sprinkle, 2008, “Animals, Empathy, and Violence: Can Animals Be Used to Convey Principles of Prosocial Behavior to Children?”) Promoting the inherent worth of specific animal lives can help us increase our reverence for all lives.
How to Support Injured Animals
Undoubtedly, most of us do not have the technical skills or equipment to help animals go bionic.
But here are three ways we can support injured and suffering animals.
- Get educated. If you know an animal who has been injured or is in pain, or if you just want to spread the word about these lifesaving options, head to Bionic Pets or Animal Ortho Care to find partner vets in your area or learn about home-casting options. And for support with end-of-life care for your companion animal, explore the International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care or Pet Hospice Finder.
- Be a sacred activist. Start a daily practice of protecting animals. Head to the In Defense of Animals website for easy actions you can take from home to help animals avoid injury worldwide.
- Practice Powerful Prayer. Begin your mornings with this prayer from Judy Carman’s book Peace to All Beings: “I join my energy with all the compassion generated by the animal advocates around the world. I know that together we are creating a world where animals will be treated with respect and no longer harmed by humans. The more we do, the more the Universe rushes to aid us and the animals.”
Facing life-determining decisions on behalf of our furry companions as well as other animalkind can be confusing, stressful, and heartbreaking. Another wizard―that famous one hailing from Oz―reminds us, “There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid, and that kind of courage you have in plenty.”
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