Custom prosthetic helps Augusta dog keep up



Watch out for a friendly black dog some say has a cuteness and style that could walk all over you. And with her new boots, the pitbull named Wooh Dau – Chinese for black bean – has a fresh bounce in her step.

The team at Augusta Orthotics and Prosthetics built custom-made boots for the dog that had been abused and found nearly dead at a construction site. Using techniques and materials similar to that of a human orthotic brace, prosthetic resident Adam Trefethren made a comfortable shoe for Wooh Dau’s paw, which was missing its front portion and toes.

Renee Thai adopted her pet from animal rescue mission All God’s Creatures in Edgefield, S.C. The pitbull had been nursed to health but with her missing paw couldn’t keep up with Thai, an avid runner.

“I wanted this dog to be able to exercise and to run and to do things, too,” Thai said.

Thai researched animal prostheses online, but couldn’t find a veterinarian or animal prosthetic office in Augusta. Her last effort was calling Augusta Orthotics and Prosthetics, which specializes in devices for human amputees and wounds.

Similar to working with a human patient, Trefethren took measurements of the limb and made a plaster cast. From that he built a foam-lined plastic boot with a leather insert and hard sole, all cost-free for the owner.

Trefethren had concerns Wooh Dau might chew on the boot, but she quickly acclimated to it after a test run around the office. Prostheses aren’t extremely common for animals, Trefethren said, because most adapt to amputations.

“Three-legged dogs can actually get along pretty well, whereas a human can’t really hop around on one leg,” he said.

Helping animals at Augusta Orthotics and Prosthetics is unusual, but the differences compared to working with animals are minimal, said manager Cat Haymore. The office created a special brace for a blond lab with an injured front leg and paw more than 10 years ago.

“You’re used to someone that can talk and tell you ‘Hey, that hurts,’” Haymore said.

Thai laces up the boot for Wooh Dau when they run or hike on rocky terrain and asphalt. The dog walks comfortably on grass lawns and carpet.

“She knows whenever she has those shoes on it’s time for her to go out to play,” Thai said.