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Students creating prosthetic leg for puppy with malformed foot

Arnold Burton Technology Center juniors using 3-D printer for project

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SALEM, Va. – Juniors at Arnold Burton Technology Center in Salem are using a 3-D printer to create a prosthetic leg for a puppy with a malformed foot.

The 8-week-old golden retriever, named Spartacus, was born with the deformity.

Shortly after he was born in February, his owner noticed something was wrong with his foot.

"We first named him Stumpy, but my husband said, ‘No, we’ve got to name him strong man,’" Spartacus' owner Cheryl Campbell said.

To help make him strong, she called a veterinarian.

"We’re going to try to make a prosthesis, so it keeps his leg straight and helps him with his growing in both legs," Dr. Mark Wadstrom, owner of Animal Care Center of Salem, said.

Students are making the prosthesis using a 3-D printer. They're taking measurements and studying X-rays to create prototypes.

"We were able to see how for example the radius and ulna are curved out and how we may need to adjust for that," student Nabeel Raza said.

10 News was there Tuesday as they tried out the second prototype. It was a little shaky, but another step in the right direction.

"I think it's a wonderful learning experience for everybody, me and the kids and the puppy, too," Wadstrom said.

They're working out the kinks to build a better leg for Spartacus.

"To have something final that he can run around on," Raza said.

"The possibility is that the students could devise and design a prosthetic device that he can use as an adult puppy," Dr. Susheela Shanta, the engineering center's director, said.

Campbell has bigger goals. She wants Spartacus to be a therapy dog.

"Because he loves people and he can help them feel good about themselves," Campbell said.