Meet The Man Who Has Helped Thousands Of Animals To Run Again

Derrick Campana is an animal orthotist who creates braces and artificial limbs to help increase animals’ mobility and improve their lives. Derrick is one out of ten people in the world who make custom animal prosthetics, according to the Washington Business Journal. It’s amazing just how mobile animals with prosthetics can be, these few people are making a profound impact.

Approximately 12 years ago, he was approached by a veterinarian who had seen his prosthetic work. The vet is impressed and asks Derrick if he would be willing to make prosthetic legs for a dog. In an interview with SPE, Derrick recalls how he told the vet quite bluntly, “I can try to help you. But I’ve never worked on a dog before.”

So, he tried and the prosthetic was successful for the dog. Then, Derrick had the brilliant idea to start a business making prosthetics for animals. “I’m sure there’s tons of animals in need out there,” he said. And he was right!  Derrick now runs Animal Ortho Care, and so far he estimated he made more than 25,000 prosthetics for animals all over the world.

“We get emails every day on all types of devices, ranging from turtle to deer to pandas. I did elephants in Thailand, a ram in Spain. Goat, sheep, llama. Name it, we’ve probably done it.”

Derrick travels the world fitting apparatuses for impaired animals. His company, Bionic Pets, manufactures a variety of mobility equipment. The website is bionicpets.org.

“The majority of the cases I treat I never see,” he says. “So we send out these Fiberglas casting kits all over the world, and a lot of times, the animal owner or veterinarian makes a cast of the animal, and it’s the first time they’ve made a cast, and a lot of times we get not the best cast,” he says and smiles.

“And we have to take this mold and turn it into something that’s going to help the animal. … Doing it by mail and helping animals in that way can be really, really difficult — that’s why there are so few of us who do that.”

Prosthetics refers to limb replacements, he explains; orthotics are braces. Derrick often treks cross-country with what he calls his “mobile limb lab.” “I go right to the family, right to the people, I cast it, build the device, and fit the animal right there. That’s the way it should be. It’s a better way to do it.”

Though it has been difficult for Derrick and his company to sᴜʀᴠɪᴠᴇ the COVID ᴏɴsʟᴀᴜɢʜᴛ, he says, “I’m living my dream now. I pinch myself every day doing this job — using my hands helping animals, helping animals and families get whole again. You can’t get much better than that.”

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