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

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 Derrick Campana, the so-called "Dr. Doolittle" of animal prosthetics, was ready to tackle.

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The 'Dr. Doolittle' of animal prosthetics
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The 'Dr. Doolittle' of animal prosthetics

Derrick Campana kneels beside Angel Marie, a three-legged mini horse who wears a prosthetic leg made by Campana, at Animal Ortho Care in Sterling, Virginia, U.S., March 27, 2017.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Derrick Campana holds the prosthetic paw he made for Kenna, a three-year-old golden retriever born without a front paw, at Animal Ortho Care in Sterling, Virginia, U.S., March 27, 2017.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Angel Marie, a three-legged mini horse who wears a prosthetic leg made by Derrick Campana of Animal Ortho Care, looks up from her feeding bowl during a visit with Campana in Sterling, Virginia, U.S., March 27, 2017.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Various molds for animal prosthetics made by Derrick Campana of Animal Ortho Care sit upon a shelf at their facility in Sterling, Virginia, U.S., March 27, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Derrick Campana holds the mold for a prosthetic leg he made for a Thai elephant who lost a limb to a landmine at Animal Ortho Care in Sterling, Virginia, U.S., March 27, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

The prosthetic leg made by Derrick Campana of Animal Ortho Care for Angel Marie, a three-legged mini horse, sits atop a bale of hay in Sterling, Virginia, U.S., March 27, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Derrick Campana of Animal Ortho Care (L) gets assistance as he works to find a solution for Beauty, a goat who cannot stand on her permanently damaged legs, in Sterling, Virginia, U.S., March 27, 2017.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Hudson, a pitbull mix with an amputated paw, wears a prosthetic paw made by Derrick Campana of Animal Ortho Care in Sterling, Virginia, U.S., March 27, 2017.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Derrick Campana of Animal Ortho Care (L) works to find a solution for Beauty, a goat who cannot stand on her permanently damaged legs, in Sterling, Virginia, U.S., March 27, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Owner Lennie Green of Industry Maine puts a prosthetic leg made by Derrick Campana on Angel Marie, a three-legged mini horse, during a visit to Campana at Animal Ortho Care in Sterling, Virginia, U.S., March 27, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Derrick Campana holds the mold for a prosthetic leg he made for a Thai elephant who lost a limb to a landmine at Animal Ortho Care in Sterling, Virginia, U.S., March 27, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

The prosthetic leg made by Derrick Campana of Animal Ortho Care for Angel Marie, a three-legged mini horse, sits atop a bale of hay in Sterling, Virginia, U.S., March 27, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Derrick Campana kneels beside Angel Marie, a three-legged mini horse who wears a prosthetic leg made by Campana, at Animal Ortho Care in Sterling, Virginia, U.S., March 27, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Hudson, a pitbull mix with an amputated paw, wears a prosthetic paw made by Derrick Campana of Animal Ortho Care in Sterling, Virginia, U.S., March 27, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Kenna, a three-year-old golden retriever born without a front paw, wears a prosthetic paw made by Derrick Campana of Animal Ortho Care in Sterling, Virginia, U.S., March 27, 2017.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

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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."

Owner Lennie Green credits 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."

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 a prosthetic limb for an elephant in Thailand that had it's front foot blown off by a land mine.

While he is not a veterinarian, 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.

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