Not only humans get prosthetics — animals do too.
Skip, an 18-month-old pit bull in Merced is one of them.
He was born with a bone deformity and lost the paw on his front left leg because his original owners weren't able to afford treatment.
Skip was taken to Merced Veterinary Clinic, where the options for treating him were amputation or euthanasia, said Dr. Betty Lawson, a veterinarian at the clinic.
While Skip was there, clinic employee Xenia Onofre became close to him and helped save his life. "I ended up having his previous owners sign him over to me," the 23-year-old said. "I just didn't want him to be put down at such a young age."
At that point, Skip was just about two or three months old, and Onofre's affection for him grew as she saw him suffer. "It was just the way he was looking at me," she said. "You can tell he was in pain."
Onofre's co-workers pitched in to help her get treatment for Skip. Lawson also contributed, she said.
Lawson was able to save the rest of Skip's leg, but he wasn't able to do things a normal dog does. He walked with a limp, he couldn't run and wasn't able to maintain his balance.
That's when Lawson reached out to Spencer Greene, a clinician at Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics in Merced. Greene made Skip's first prosthetic about eight months ago. The dog is now using his second one. The prosthetic is a custom-molded device that fits around Skip's leg. It allows him to act like a normal dog because he's able to put weight on both legs so that his body is balanced. "It's very effective," Greene said. "He goes to the park and uses it as a tool to play with other dogs."
Devices such as Skip's, which in this case was free, can cost between $500 and $1,500, Greene said. "I thought it was an opportunity to help the dog," he said.
As Skip grows, another prosthetic will be needed, Greene said.
Onofre said that without the support from others, she probably would have already spent up to $6,000 on Skip. The prosthetic has helped him a lot -- he's able to do all sorts of things. "He can pretty much take me on a walk," she said. Skip wears the device about 90 percent of the time.
She said it's been worth taking care of Skip, and the prosthetic has even helped fix problems with his back knees. "He's definitely fun to have around," she said. "He's lovable."
This was the second time Greene got to make a prosthetic device for a dog. The first one he made was for a Chihuahua in Modesto, he said. The same company made a prosthetic tail for a dolphin, which inspired the film, "Dolphin Tale."
Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or firstname.lastname@example.org.