Derrick Campana is a certified orthotist and has practiced in the field of orthotics and prosthetics for several years. Though, he first worked with the human population, over the years he has found his true passion – using his skills to help rehabilitate animals.
It all started 12 years ago, when Derrick was approached by a vet who had seen his prosthetic work. In an interview with PBS, he recalled that, “it was so strange to me that someone would even do that.” However he gave him a straight answer: “I can try to help you. But I’ve never worked on a dog before.”
So, he tried and the prosthetic was successful for the dog. Then, Derrick had the brilliant idea to start a business making prosthetics for animals. “I’m sure there’s tons of animals in need out there,” he said. And he was right! Campana now runs Animal Ortho Care, and so far he estimated he made more than 25,000 prosthetics for animals all over the world.
“We get emails every day on all types of devices, ranging from turtle to deer to pandas. I did elephants in Thailand, a ram in Spain. Goat, sheep, llama. Name it, we’ve probably done it,” he told SPE. Most of Derrick’s animal patients suffered really bad injuries, but his work gave them another chance at live.
Hudson is just one of so many patients, Derrick had. Upon receiving a request from Hudson’s family, Derrick drove straight from Virginia to New York to fit the pup with a piece. And the result? Well, Hudson took off running.
“[Hudson’s owner] was crying, I was tearing up. It’s one of the best moments… When all these things lined up together, and we fit him with new prosthesis… and he just ran away. It all lined up. Perfection,” Derrick said.
According to News 10, he was even named the American Humane Association’s 2015 hero therapy dog. Derrick describes the help Hudson provides, saying:
“WHEN HE WALKS IN AND SEES AMPUTEES AND WAR VETS LIKE I USED TO TREAT, HE’S ABLE TO GIVE THEM A SENSE OF RELIEF AND SHOW THEM THAT, ‘OH IF THIS DOG CAN OVERCOME THIS HANDICAP, THEN I CAN TOO.”
However, despite Animal Ortho Care treat approximately 200 animals every month, Derrick says there to many animal owners who don’t even know about those prosthetics.
“Maybe 20% of the population knows that these options of prosthetics and orthodontic devices exist. If 100% of dog owners knew, then we could treat thousands more dogs and save thousands more dogs’ lives. You don’t have to put them down,” he said.
A true hero