Virginia's 'Dr Doolittle' gives amputated animals new lease on life

From a miniature pony to goats, dogs and other animals, Derrick Campana fashions prosthetics that use non-invasive techniques that can help them walk again.

STERLING, VIRGINIA (REUTERS) - Angel Marie the pony was stepped on by her mother shortly after she was born.

Her front legs were so severely damaged, she was too crippled to walk.

It was a challenge Mr Derrick Campana, the so-called "Dr Doolittle" of Animal prosthetics, was ready to tackle.

The certified orthotist at Animal Ortho Care in Sterling, Virginia fashioned prosthetic front legs using highly durable, medical grade plastics.

He says watching Angel Marie take her first steps was emotional.

"Seeing her walk, and having her here today walking is just a dream come true. A miracle." said Mr Campana.

Owner Lennie Green credits Mr Campana with saving Angel Marie's life.

"The kids just love her to death. And she loves kids. It's really a great thing. The prosthetics, if it wasn't for that she wouldn't have made it." said Mr Green.

Mr Campana started his career in making orthotics for humans, and saw a niche for helping animals.

He's become a go-to in the industry globally -- he's fashioned prosthetic limbs for an elephant in Thailand that had it's legs blown off by land mines.

While he is not a veterinarian, Mr Campana says his practice is a cost-effective alternative to more invasive procedures at the vet.

The future in prosthetics, he says, is likely in 3D printing, which he says is costly now, but may become more affordable in years to come - which will give furry pals near and far a leg up in life.