It’s been more than a month since my story on animal prostheses ran in Wired, and I continue to get mail about it. Many of the messages contain heartwarming stories that testify to the strength of the human-animal bond, but an e-mail I got last week, in particular, stood out. (And so, with the author’s permission, I am reprinting part of his e-mail here.)
The e-mail was from Billy Rountree, an orthotic and prosthetic practioner assistant in Texas and a former employee of a company called ProsthetiCare. In his e-mail, Rountree recounted how he came into contact with a miniature horse named Midnite, who was missing part of his back leg. The staff of Rand Hand Rescue, the animal sanctuary where Midnite lived, hoped that outfitting the equine with a prosthetic would keep him from having to be euthanized.
Rountree was part of the team that helped make this dream a reality. As he recounted to me:
It was a cold day in December when I first began casting Midnite for his prosthesis. The weather made casting very difficult. It took multiple times to successfully get a casting that I was confident would be a superb fit. With the help of Patrick, a ranch hand of the rescue organization, I was able to get a mold that was worthy of fabrication. It took weeks to get the prosthesis made because I fabricated the work on this project in my free time.
Around the 8th of February, the first prosthesis was ready for fitting. This was the first time that Midnite was ever able to stand on all four legs in his life. What happened next amazed us all. Midnite was not only able to stand on all four legs. He was able to run! For the first time, the little horse took off running. It was an emotional time for everyone who witnessed this amazing sight. Before it was over, we all cried.
See Midnite run for yourself:
Rountree, who has left ProsthetiCare and is now employed by Alltech Orthotics & Prosthetic Services, also adds:
This experience has made a deep impact on my outlook on life. I am looking forward to continuing my desire to help more animals live a happy, comfortable, and fulfilling life.
Photos: Courtesy of Billy Rountree.