Derrick Campana, an animal orthotist who is referred to rightly as the “Wizard of Paws,” is on a mission to help as many animals as humanly possible, making their lives fuller and allowing them to romp and play despite the loss of their limbs.
The Virginia-based Campana, who started this quest back in 2004, is an animal orthotist who has saved the lives of more than 20,000 pets — or at least made them worth living –with his custom-made prosthetics.
The prosthetist, who has a degree in Kinesiology/Biomechanics from Penn State University and a masters in Orthotics and Prosthetics from Northwestern University, began his career as a prosthetist for human beings who needed artificial limbs.
And that’s how he intended to continue his career — until two years later, when everything changed.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
“I was doing the whole ‘human thing’… but a vet brought in her dog, who needed a prosthetic, to my human practice,” Campana told interviewers from AOL. “I made a prosthetic that was a success, and I immediately knew that this was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.”
After learning how to fit humans for orthotics and prosthetics, it took a little bit more effort to create the limb for the chocolate lab, who was called Charles. Campana truly found his life’s calling that fateful day.
And his talents are sorely needed, as, according to the Washington Business Journal, he is one of only ten people in the entire world who make prosthetic limbs for animals.
His website, Bionicpets.org, is devoted to the needs of our house pets who need prosthetic limbs or other helpmeets for their mobility. And it doesn’t stop with artificial legs for animals who have lost them through injury or disease. His expertise also includes what he calls “Waggin wagons,” uniquely-designed wagons that carry an animal in comfort and allow it to walk normally despite the loss of its legs.
Dogs, cats, goats, and lucky ducks have been some of the small animals that have been the recipients of his innovation and artistry, allowing them to move about their environments in nearly the same fashion that they had previously.
But Campana doesn’t shy away from trying to help animals as large as elephants, either. Caretakers who were in charge of “Jabu,” an elephant living in Botswana who desperately needed a brace for his leg after falling into a hole, reached out to him several years ago.
Animal orthotist creates giant leg brace for African elephant
After his carers made the necessary forms for the brace, Campana traveled to the African country to help fit Jabu with his new apparatus.
Animal Planet covered the momentous event from the first time Campana came on the scene to after Jabu walked around with ease using his new brace.
Campana even has his own television show devoted to this mission, called “Wizard of Paws,” airing on byutv; the series also has its own Facebook page, with a large following.
The prosthetist sends pre-made kits to veterinarians and pet owners, instructing them how to cast molds of their patients or pets. Once he receives the molds, he crafts unique, personalized braces or prosthetics for each animal out of thermoplastics. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
His new business, called Bionic Pets, an offshoot of his original prosthetics business for pets, focuses on animals that need complete limb prosthetics, while his original business, Animal Ortho Care, caters to those who need minimal help and braces.
Campana has stated that his goals to not only help as many animals as he possibly can during his career but to level the playing field between animals and humans when it comes to the professional treatment that they receive when facing these difficult situations.
By last count, 20,000 animals around the world have Campana to thank for his brilliant creations, after that fateful day less than twenty years ago when the chocolate lab was brought into his prosthetics office.