Three-legged dog gets prosthetic limb

When “Little” Debbie, a now-65-pound grey-and-white American Pit Bull Terrier named for the popular snack cakes, was first found, she lay starving and abused in a Miami-area neighborhood. Even worse, some cruel person had done the unthinkable — they’d cut her front paw off.

Dogs put approximately 60 percent of their body weight on their front legs. (Photo credit: Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel)

Three kids were playing in that same neighborhood stumbled upon Debbie, whose brutally injured leg was swollen from infection, and knew they needed to help. Together, they carried Debbie home to their mother, who bandaged the dog’s leg and contacted animal control. From there, Debbie was transported 1 Lucky Dog Rescue, an animal rescue group based in nearby Hialeah, Fla., where she remained while she recovered.

Usually, when an animal loses one of their hind legs, they are able to adapt with relative ease. But that is not always the case with dogs like Debbie who are missing one of their front legs.

“Because dogs and cats bear about 60 percent of their weight on the front legs, they adapt pretty well to missing a back leg,” explains veterinarian Dr. Rick Marrinson. “But if it’s a front leg, the problem you have is that eventually the other front leg is going to break down. The joint will likely become arthritic and degenerate from the extra pressure and compensation.”

Without help from a prosthetic leg, Debbie would not be able to live a pain-free life. But after hearing Debbie’s story, Orlando company ABC Prosthetics and Orthotics is giving Debbie a “leg up” on a good life. They’ve graciously donated a custom prosthetic leg to Debbie so she will be able to get around town with ease.

Laurie Saunders, office manager at ABC Prosthetics and Orthotics and owner of her own three-legged dog, says the whole office looks forward to visits from Debbie, who, despite all she’s been through, is a loving and happy dog.

“When Debbie comes in, everybody here gathers around her and makes a big fuss,” Saunders explains. “She’s the sweetest girl. All she wants to do is give you kisses.”

“She’s lucky,” Chaya Springer, 24-year-old engineering student from Oviedo, Florida and Debbie’s new owner tells the Orlando Sentinel. “In fact, we’re all just lucky that everything worked out. She’s going to be a track star now.”

Springer and her boyfriend Michael first heard about Debbie when she appeared on “Good Morning America.” Seeing her adorable face, Springer knew she wanted to adopt Debbie right away. After all, she and Michael were looking for a new friend for their other 85-pound adopted Pit Bull, Chopper.

“After I saw this story, I just knew she was perfect,” Springer says. “I instantly knew that she was meant to be ours.”

Springer wasn’t initially the leader of the pack of a dozen potential adopters, she explains. During their first meet-and-greet, Debbie bonded instantly with Springer and Springer’s boyfriend, but Chopper seemed aloof, uninterested. But Springer wasn’t content to throw in the towel so easily. She made sure to reiterate her interest in Debbie. And when ABC Prosthetics and Orthotics, located near Springer’s home, agreed to fit Debbie with her new leg, the rescue decided it might be fate.

On Debbie’s first night in her new home, Chopper forged a deep bond with Debbie, snuggling and even sharing his favorite toy with her.

Today, Debbie has adjusted to life on a new limb. She is wearing the latest model — made of molded plastic, a cushioned liner, and fitted with a hinged foot made of carbon fiber. Because Debbie is pretty much full-grown, she may never need a replacement prosthetic.

“We just have to watch her when she has it on,” says Springer. “We have to make sure she doesn’t eat it.”

Source: Orlando Sentinel