Animals Getting A Second Chance At Life With Prosthetic Limbs - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

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Animals Getting A Second Chance At Life With Prosthetic Limbs

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ORLANDO- A Florida man giving horses a second chance at life with his pioneering prosthetics business, and the journey for him was personal.

"When you can take an animal that theoretically should have been put down and get them running, walking, playing, it's unbelievable the feeling you get from it. I'm the first one we know of in history to make bilateral front braces for a horse," said Ronnie Graves, a man with 35 years experience in the prosthetics and orthotics business.

"About 17 years ago a lady came to my facility with a horse who desperately needed a knee brace and I had never made one before and it has just mushroomed from that point,” Graves explained about his start in animal prosthetics.

For the last 17 years, Ronnie's groundbreaking work has focused on his equine clientele

"It's a team effort. The vet, the owner of the animal and myself all get involved. We figure out a treatment plan for the animal then we cast and make the device," Graves explained.

His work has reached as far as Africa, where he fitted a baby elephant named Moses with two back leg braces.

Closer to home, and closest to his heart is Ronnie's 3-legged donkey named Luigi.

"The magnitude of difference we've made in Luigi's life and mobility, he's about 10 years old now so for 8 1/2 years he's been wearing a prosthesis," said Graves.

It's something Ronnie can relate to. He's been wearing a prosthetic since 1979 when he lost his left leg in a train accident.

It was a day that changed his life, as well as his life's path

"What appeared to be the very very worst darkest days of my life, turned out to be one of the best,” Graves explained.

It's the reason he got into prosthetics and orthotics.

His lab in Bushnell is where he crafts all the prosthetics.

Either by pouring plaster and hand modifying the cast, or by using 3D imaging software to scan, model and carve out a device to one-ten thousandth of an inch of the shape custom made for his four-legged clientele.

“They don't have a voice. They can’t tell you that with a leg i would be able to walk and enjoy life," he explained.

Ronnie claims his success rate is about 80% to 85%.

For Ronnie, his life's journey of 1,000 miles is defined by every single step he takes, and creates.

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