Russia: a veterinarian puts four artificial legs on a martyred dog

Sylvie Claire / November 21, 2021

Discovered dying in a forest in Russia, a dog was saved by a group of volunteers and a veterinarian, who transplanted four artificial legs, a particularly rare operation.
 
This is the story of a miracle: Monika, a Russian dog, has regained the use of her four legs thanks to the complex installation of titanium prostheses, a rare, expensive operation, and financed entirely online. Operated two weeks ago, the little beige-coated creature is still visibly tired and fearful. But she walks.
 
Luck and experience played a big role, says with modesty Sergueï Gorchkov, the 33 years old veterinarian at the origin of this feat in the Best clinic of Novosibirsk, in Siberia. 
 
This is the first time he has performed a quadruple transplant on a dog, an operation he previously performed on a cat in 2019. About 30 other of his patients have had artificial limbs placed.
 
Monika has come a long way. In December 2020, she was discovered dying in a forest in Krasnodar, southwestern Russia. Her four legs are only gaping and bloody wounds. No one knows what happened to her, some volunteers think someone cut off her paws out of cruelty, Gorchkov says.
 
Poor Monika, estimated to be between 2 and 4 years old, could have suffered the fate of thousands of stray dogs found injured: euthanasia or, worse, a slow and painful death. But this was without counting the mobilization of a group of volunteers from Krasnodar. One of them, Alla Leonkina, says she took care of the dog with a friend for almost a year after she was found. She was in an abominable state.
 
While caring for the animal, Mrs. Leonkina thinks about the clinic of Dr. Gorchkov. Then, last spring, an online kitty was launched to offer a new life to Monika. Within a month, the group collected more than 400,000 rubles, a large sum in Russia. There is still one problem: transporting Monika to Novosibirsk, 4,000 kilometers away. She took the plane with me, sitting on a passenger seat, says Alla Leonkina.
 
Monika's guardian angels also funded the making of the prostheses, which were made using a 3D printer. One of the animal's legs broke during the first fitting, forcing the veterinarian to try again two months later.
 
Now, he explains, everything is fine. Monika's bones will be able to grow and adapt naturally to the prostheses, which he says will become like the antlers on the head of a deer.
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