When an abandoned puppy lost his paws to frostbite, reported USA Today, Martin Kaufmann, founder of Orthopets, decided to lend a paw - or four.
A family fleeing their foreclosed home abandoned young Naki'o, leaving the puppy, along with his brothers and sisters, without a home in the middle of a harsh winter, said Incredible Features. Weak and famished, Naki'o stepped into a puddle in the cold basement, getting all his paws stuck in freezing water. As a result, his paws were lost to frostbite, leaving healed rounded stumps in their wake.
When Naki'o and his fellow pups were five weeks old, they were found and taken to an animal rescue center. It was veterinary technician Christie Tomlinson who discovered Naki'o; she had been looking for a playmate for her own dog, Poki, and spotted Naki'o, who was now forced to crawl along on his belly.
Christie organized a fundraiser to pay for Naki'o to receive two brand new bionic paws on his hind legs. Kaufmann's Orthopets, located in Denver, Colo., provided the new appendages, which Naki'o adapted to so well that the company gave him two prosthetic front paws free of charge.
In other words, Orthopets' slogan ought to have been, "We can rebuild him. We have the technology." And the compassion, as well.
And rebuilt Naki'o was, making history as the first pet to have a complete set of bionic legs. Though walking was initially a grueling process, Naki'o got used to his new paws, the purpose of which were to mimic the muscle and bone of real dog limbs.
Throughout the nation, noted Live Leak, the foreclosure crisis has forced millions of people out of homes - but peoples' pets are also being left behind.
Like Naki'o, Sydney was a two-year-old Golden Retriever who was abandoned when people lost their home in 2008 - this time, in California. She was rescued and began living at the Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a non-profit animal welfare organization working to save animals who are abandoned or victims of cruelty and abuse.
"The reason Sydney is here," said SPCA Director Rick Johnson, "is she was given up by people who are moving. And she's a wonderful dog and we've adopted her."
Though pups like Naki'o and Sydney were fortunate, there are many dogs that are not so lucky, and it seems imperative to understand that, with the current unstable economic landscape in America, both people and animals are suffering.
Sarah Varanini, an SPCA Animal Services Worker, told Live Leak, "We had about 33 dogs come in on Saturday alone, so it's just increasing every day."
Varanini had heard many stories of people who had to leave foreclosed homes - and their animals, too.
"A lot of times," said Varanini, "they file for bankruptcy and they have to move into an apartment complex; a lot of apartment complexes don't take certain dogs, so they end up having to bring their animals here."
Moreover, she said that people couldn't always afford the pet deposits for apartments, which run $300 and up.
Rescue owners want to encourage people who can't afford to keep their pets to take the time to give local shelters a call, rather than simply leaving the animals alone and frightened on the streets.
If more people kept that in mind, perhaps heartbreaking incidents such as Naki'o losing his limbs need not happen.
Nevertheless, after a few days with his bionic paws, Naki'o got the hang of it, and was running and bounding all over the place. Christie was pleasantly surprised by the animal's joy and motivation.
Now, Christie said, "Naki'o can not only chase after a ball with other dogs, but he can beat them to the catch!"
Illustration by Blake Deppe/PW