The Real Life Doctor Dolittle

Posted by Cori Hoberman
(@Cori Hoberman)

Donkeys, and Puppies, and Sheep, Oh My!

Derrick Campana, the President and CEO of Animal Orthocare, always dreamt of pursuing a career within the human orthotic and prosthetic field, but even he couldn’t predict the type of future he was about to endure. In 2005, a veterinarian walked into his office and asked him if he would consider making a prosthetic device for a dog, who sustained severe injuries before being left for dead on train tracks in upstate New York. Despite how strange it sounded, Campana accepted the challenge and his results were quite favorable. From there, he created Animal Orthocare in Sterling, Virginia.

Photo by: GineersNow

Campana is devoted to helping animals literally get back on their feet. His methods offer an alternative solution to animals who are in need of costly surgeries or face the possibility of having to be put down. So far, Campana has built more than 20,000 artificial limbs for wide variety of animals such as dogs, birds, horses, elephants, donkeys, rams, sheep, goats, deer, and more. His company currently resides in Sterling, Virginia, but he’s been fortunate enough  to travel to places like Thailand, Bhutan and Spain in order to help animals outside of the US. In an interview with SPE, Campana says, “We get emails everyday on all types of devices ranging from turtle to deer to pandas. I did elephants in Thailand, a ram in Spain. Goat, sheep, llama. Name it, we’ve probably done it. If I had to guess at the number of animals we’ve seen in my career over the last 12 years, it would have to be about 25,000.”


Not many people do what Campana does, in fact, he is one of six to ten people in the world who creates artificial limbs for animals. In an interview with Ray Taghipour, Campana says, “There’s only a handful of people do it in the entire world, so I’ve been lucky enough to start from the beginning and get to where we are now in the veterinary orthotic and prosthetic field.”

Photo by: PBS

Campana also found success using a 3-Dimensional printer to design and create prosthetics in 3D. One of his most popular stories involves a dog named Derby who was born with a birth defect that took away his ability to walk on all four paws. Watch the video below for more information.

According to Animal Orthocare’s blog, “Veterinary medicine can be both very challenging and very rewarding. It can also be much like the quote from Forrest Gump, “….is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” Well, this holds true in our practices as well. Each day can bring on something new and exciting. We also meet some amazing people and equally amazing pets or patients”

Campana has dedicated 12 years of his life helping animals “live happier and healthier lives by giving them the gift of mobility.” What more could a puppy ask for?

Learn More About Animal Orthocare.

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