I’ll admit it, I’m a little (okay, a lot) obsessed with watching animal videos on social media; honestly, it’s one of the reasons I really love sites like Facebook and Instagram. It brings me ridiculous amounts of joy to see stories of cute animals performing human-like tricks (have you seen the cat that high-fives and fist-bumps its owner?!), or cute animals sleeping soundly, or cute animals being cute in all sorts of ways. I also love the stories we have covered of animals that have been helped by 3D printing technology, like Lilly the two-legged goat, the whippet that got a 3D printed leg, and the duck that recently received a 3D printed bill. Back in 2014, we heard about a little dog named Turbo, who received a 3D printed cart to help him get around, and this project was the jumping-off point for the Pawsthetics Animal Prosthetics nonprofit organization.
The 3D Printing Store in Colorado teamed up with TurboRoo in 2015 to help Turbo, and decided to continue working to improve the lives of other animals in need, though The 3D Printing Store is no longer affiliated with TurboRoo. After an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the organization, things really took off, and Pawsthetics has helped multiple tortoises, dogs, and cats. As of this year, Pawsthetics has officially obtained its 501c3 nonprofit status, in order to expand its reach and raise more money for animals that are victims of abuse, neglect, or are disabled. Pawsthetics seeks to support owners, rescues, and animals in need by providing 3D printed prosthetic solutions.
According to the Pawsthetics website, “Our mission is to help animals from all walks of life who are in need of mobility devices. Our processes utilize traditional prosthetics practices along with cutting edge 3D printing and design to create functional solutions for our furry and scaly friends!”
The Pawsthetics team has made good use of 3D CAD, 3D scanning, 3D printing, and even freehand design to develop functional prosthetics for animals; it’s even helped some animals in Venezuela and Zimbabwe. But now the organization is asking for a little help from the community.
“We have been working with dogs all over the world and have recently been inundated with requests that are forcing us to raise funds for the next rounds of projects,” Justin Finesilver, the Director of Operations and Marketing for The 3D Printing Store, told 3DPrint.com. “We have launched the campaign to make sure we have the team, the technology and materials necessary to continue to help animals all over the World.”
The organization is currently taking on a lot of the research cost for prosthetic technologies, as well as helping owners and rescues raise funds for some of its projects. In order to keep developing technologies and solutions to improve animals’ lives around the world, Finesilver and Pawsthetics just launched the Fall Fund Raiser on GoFundMe. The goal of the campaign is to raise general funding in order to take care of the many inquiries it receives for free, by expanding its staff of paid and volunteer advisors.
The Pawsthetics team is also launching a new initiative to work with schools in the US, to teach students how to design and develop their own Pawsthetic devices for disabled animals in their area. Currently, the organization has schools in four states that it will begin working with this fall to pilot the Pawsthetics program as a part of the schools’ STEAM curriculum. However, the organization will “remain need based” and make sure that its top priority is animals in the most need of prosthetic solutions.
According to the campaign page, “We do not currently have all the answers to each problem an animal or an owner might face. We aren’t sure we ever will, but with new techniques, materials, technologies and team members we look to be able to find creative solutions to continue to push the limits of what can be done to make the lives of animals even better. We intend to remain on the cutting edge and hope that you will join us in our quest to help animals in need.”
Pawsthetics already has some great success stories, like Toby the Tortoise, who was attacked by a dog and lost an important part of his shell known as the ‘gular horn.’ This helps protect tortoises from predators, and is also extremely important in helping them find a mate. The organization has been working with Toby and his owner for over a year to build a custom attachment to give Toby his mojo back; the attachment could also “influence research” on other tortoises.
The nonprofit has also assisted with two dogs whose stories have warmed my animal-loving heart: Rebel and Winston.
Rebel, who was one of six puppies in a litter born handicapped, is one of Pawsthetics’ newer projects. The team is working on a prosthetic process to get Rebel, a mixed-breed who’s also known as Rebel Without a Paw, moving again. The process will help the pup build muscle memory, and he’ll hopefully learn to use the prosthetic device quickly; hopefully, Pawsthetics will also be able to help Rebel’s siblings as well!
Winston, who used to live at the nonprofit Twala Trust animal sanctuary in Zimbabwe, is also missing a paw. Pawsthetics is working with Winston and his new owners to figure out a prosthetic solution so that the little pup can keep moving on all four feet.
If you’re interested in donating to Pawsthetics, please check out the GoFundMe campaign page to learn more.
Discuss in the Pawsthetics Campaign forum thread at 3DPB.com.