A ‘wonky’ disabled donkey struggling with a deformed leg that left it struggling to work “loves” his new Christmas gift – a prosthetic leg!
Tommy the donkey was gifted the leg for free in an effort to improve the animal’s quality of life.
Matt Hughes, normally an expert at making prosthetics for humans rather than donkeys, said he just felt ‘incredibly sorry’ for Tommy.
He added: “Tommy had a congenital deformity through his right front leg, so over the years he kind of fumbled about and got by.
“He eventually got to the point where the nature of the deformity and the impact of it on his mobility meant they had to ask if they could do anything for him – restabilising him or having to let him go.
“After his owner Gary called me It sparked my interest as an animal lover.
“I wondered whether we could create using the equipment we have for humans some kind of prosthetic limb for this donkey.
“I have been involved with helping a horse before some 15 years or so ago, so I thought given how much smaller a donkey is than a horse it must be a lot easier.
“What we’ve done is create a device that spreads his weight onto the leg that is there, but realigning where his bodyweight leans.
“We made a cast, which Tommy was very cooperative with, and then made a device and did a fitting.
“After we’d finished off the design we’ve left it on him for a while and he seems to wear it most of the day now.”
Tommy’s owner, Gary, from Worcestershire, said he had reached out to Dorset Orthopaedic more as a curiosity than anything else.
He said: “We adopted Tommy so we are not sure if he was born with the condition. It wasn’t so bad at an earlier age, the experts reckon he may have been born with it though and it just deteriorated over time.
“We’ve got two donkeys and a few mules and shetland ponies that live on the land. Tommy is now nine like our other Donkey, we’ve had him about six or seven years.
“We basically just look after the animals and let them live happy lives. We never work them or make them do anything.”
Tommy had originally been taken to New Market Veterinary Hospital to see if they could operate on Tommy, but they were unable to do anything for him.
Gary added: “I watched a program on Billy Monger, the racing driver who lost his legs. I looked on his Twitter the next day and saw he was going to a fitting at Matt Hughes’ offices in London and thought I’d give them a call.
“In the end, Matt came up, took a look, and came up with a design that now means Tommy is walking on four legs every day.
“He stays on the leg all day until he comes back in from the field when it gets dark. He doesn’t want it taken off, but we have to remove it.
“He likes it so much that on his new leg he can spin around quite well. He spins around his backside so we can’t get to his new leg to take it off.
“He’s happy on four legs again, so he’s building muscle again now – just got to go through more physio to get stronger.
“It’s brilliant what Matt has done. I keep asking him for an invoice but he refuses to send it over.”