Meet Oprah, Humane Society rescue dog fitted for prosthetic

One lucky rescue dog at the Humane Society of Carroll County will receive the gift of a lifetime later this month: a new paw.

One lucky rescue dog at the Humane Society of Carroll County will receive the gift of a lifetime later this month: a new paw.

Oprah, a dog whom Humane Society staff estimate to be 7 or 8 years old, was brought to the Humane Society in April as a rescue.


The possible victim of neglect, she was emaciated and had an injured paw that appeared to have been caught at some point in metal wire, causing circulation to be cut off and the leg to be permanently injured, said Charles Brown, Humane Society executive director.

"The first thing we had to do was just get weight on her," Brown said.

As she grew healthier, Oprah's leg began to affect her more and more as she grew hesitant to put weight on it, so Humane Society staff decided to reach out to local prosthetic companies.

Thanks to the efforts of the Humane Society and two area companies, D&J Medical and Maryland Orthotics & Prosthetics, Oprah was sized for a prosthetic Wednesday morning. (In July, D&J acquired Maryland Orthotics & Prosthetics.)

Brown said this will be the first time an animal has received a prosthetic at an institution he was working for, and it is believed to be a first at the Humane Society in Carroll.

The prosthetic will be paid for by D&J and Maryland Orthotics & Prosthetics. Employee time is also being donated to build the prosthetic.

"Sometimes in this line of work, there's a lot of arm twisting, there's a lot of begging," Brown said. But that didn't happen in this case, he said.

"They jumped at it," he said. "They couldn't have been here faster."

John Beeler, a prosthetist from D&J, said he was interested in the project as soon as he found out about it from his manager.

"We spend all day doing prosthetics with humans," he said. "Of course, we're going to jump on this."

In fact, Beeler said, he has already spoken to his family about the idea of adopting Oprah when she becomes eligible.

In the meantime, he is working with fellow prosthetists Mark Talley and Jeremy Halteman to craft Oprah a prosthetic that will let her enjoy walking and playing the same as any other dog.

But that's no small task for a group that works almost exclusively with humans.

On Wednesday, veterinarian Alana Velázquez and Humane Society Director of Animal Care Michelle Fidler assisted as the group worked to create a mold of Oprah's rear right leg. With Fidler petting Oprah's head to keep her relaxed, Talley, Halteman and Beeler took measurements and notes for design. The prosthetics team will now build a brace with a custom-fabricated strut designed specifically for Oprah's needs.


For Beeler and Talley, it's the first time in several years either has worked on a prosthetic for an animal. For Halteman, it's the first time.

"[It] presents a little bit of a challenge," Beeler said. "A fun challenge."

But it helps to have a good patient, he added.

"Honestly, we couldn't ask for her to be better," he said.

If everything goes according to plan, Oprah will have her new paw in about two weeks, they said.

"We got into this business to help people or animals or whatever," Talley said. "We're just here to help."