2018-03-07 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Puppies don’t come any cuter than Pinot, which will help him find a great home even though his front leg is deformed. Sadly, people abandon pets no matter how cute or lame they are.

Two weeks ago people brought this four-month-old long-haired Chihuahua/Cavalier pup to Babylon

Shelter saying they found him in North Amityville. They didn’t speak much English but it’s debatable whether their story is true.

So where did Pinot come from? No one is sure. It’s more likely he came from a backyard breeder than a pet store. He may have been a deformed pup born in a litter a backyard breeder couldn’t sell. Pet stores stock pups with defects often caused by the callousness of this business, such as infant puppies that develop hypoglycemia because they are too young and too small to be shipped cross country from puppy mills, or pups who become crippled from improper nutrition or being confined to a cage too long.


Duke testing his new leg in Wales Duke testing his new leg in Wales The latter is similar to the crated, six-month-old chocolate Lab puppy rescued by Nassau SPCA last week from the basement of a Merrick pet store because he was undernourished and unable to walk.

However, a puppy missing half his leg wouldn’t demand the ridiculous, high price pet stores ask for purebreds, the offspring of imprisoned breeder dogs at mills; or for their “designer” breed pups which are not breeds at all, despite the fake pedigree papers printed in the back room.

No matter what you call it-Maltipoo or Puggle or Chiweenie- “designer” dogs are expensive mixes. Often pet stores charge $1,000 or more for their puppies. Defective dogs are sent back/euthanized as damaged goods or written off as returned inventory like ripped dresses at a department store.

Pinot is only seven pounds and flaps his stump to get up to speed like a swan taking off from a lake. The shorter leg doesn’t seem to touch the ground when he moves. It looks as if he has a partial paw pad at the end of the stump.


Duke’s 3D printer leg. Duke’s 3D printer leg. This was the problem my three-legged cat Veto had as a kitten. He was only missing a hind foot, so he’d use the rest of his leg like a crutch when he walked and ran. Putting weight on that leg irritated the skin. He had no paw pad. Veto was still growing and the bone protruded through the skin, causing an infection which would re-occur despite antibiotics. My vet amputated his leg and padded the stump with muscle like a pillow. For the next 17 years Veto zoomed through the house, climbed stairs and jumped onto window sills.

Prosthesis for Pinot? If Pinot’s stump doesn’t get infected he may be a candidate for prosthesis. There appears to be enough of a stump to attach an artificial leg. Babylon Shelter sent him to be neutered. While he was there, the vet took x-rays of his stump which were inconclusive in determining if he has a congenital defect or healed trauma. Pinot also had an umbilical hernia repaired when he was neutered so there’s a lot going on with this tiny fellow.

Pinot moved to Last Hope on Saturday in hopes of foster care while he recovers from his double surgery, then an ideal, forever home and more time to make a decision about whether it’s best to amputate the stump for balance, fit him for a prosthesis or leave things status quo. It’s probably wiser to wait until he stops growing.

He had two foster homes waiting- one with Marion who fostered Cisco, originally a Babylon Shelter hit-by-car Pit who needed several surgeries and one with Mindy who fostered Clementine the former Babylon Shelter Rottweiler puppy born with twisted front legs due to inbreeding and poor nutrition. Presently he is staying with Marion and playing with her two small dogs. It also looks like he will be adopted by a fabulous family with other Last Hope dogs.

Artificial limbs for people and pets have come a long way since Veto faced this challenge 20 years ago. My friend Tom, engineer for the Stony Brook University marine biology department, wanted to make prosthesis for Veto’s missing paw. He had several ideas but Veto was never a cooperative cat and a baby sock lasted on his leg less than a nanosecond.

Enter the 3D printer which individualizes devices for each patient. Three years ago, Duke, a Retriever in Wales was born with a front leg similar to Pinot. Balance is harder for a big dog with such a disability. He was rescued by Irish Retriever Rescue and placed in a home. He faced amputation of the stump. After a fundraising campaign, Duke was been fitted with a state-of-the-art prosthetic by CBM, a research company established by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

The leg is similar to the blades used by Paralympians.

Now Duke can walk and run slowly with his family’s other dogs. His three-dimensional leg was about a year in a making. After few months, Duke used it so much; he already had to have it refurbished. The leg was entirely printed out of a machine apart from a rubber foot, some Velcro and foam at the top to make it more comfortable for Duke. Duke’s leg design was a combined effort of the printer engineers and a veterinary orthopedic surgeon. Duke’s leg was a real challenge for the team. They considered every detail right down to the thickness of his hairs.

Breaking Pinot News: Experienced foster Mom Mindy spoke to her neighbor who makes prosthetic devices for people. He said if Pinot has a nub for attachment, he can create one for our puppy. Stay tuned.

Two New Babylonian Dogs at Last Hope in Wantagh: Pinot traveled to Last Hope with Wallace the Wonder Dog. Last October Wallace came into Babylon Shelter as a stray with a convoluted trail. He’s a fiveyear old Pit. At some point, an owner put a lot of time into training him. Wallace works for treats. He rolls over (a difficult trick to teach), sits, gives each paw and likes to show off. Wallace loves petting and gets along with other dogs.

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