Scoby is an adult black and white male Muscovy duck who was found abandoned along the side of a busy road. When Scoby was first rescued, his rescuer noticed that the duck had difficulty walking with his left leg. They brought Scoby to see their veterinarian, who put him on antibiotics. However, after a month without seeing any improvement in Scoby’s condition, they decided to drop him off at Indraloka Animal Sanctuary (IAS).
Scoby's Trip to the Veterinary Clinic
IAS’s primary Avian Veterinarian is Dr. Ramsibhai Chaudhari of VCA Dunmore Animal Hospital. However, since he was currently out of town at the time, he referred them to Dr. Devinne Bennett of Back Mountain Veterinary Hospital that were located nearby. Upon arrival at the veterinary hospital, Dr. Bennett asked IAS about Scoby’s history and gave him a physical examination. Scoby’s heart rate (182 beats per minute) and respiratory rate (32 breaths per minutes) were within the normal limits for a duck (with normal rates being 175 to 230 for heart rate and 13 to 95 for respiratory rate, respectively). He weighed 11.2 lb, which was normal.
Upon examining Scoby’s leg, Dr. Bennett noticed that his left foot was slightly deformed and that his toes had started to curve. She also noticed that on the bottom of the duck’s foot, there was an old piece of skin that revealed a small open wound tract---which could have served as a possible point of entry for bacteria to enter. Dr. Bennett expressed her concern about the possibility of a bone infection.
To confirm whether Scoby had a bone infection, Dr. Bennett performed some bloodwork, and took radiographs (xrays) of Scoby’s left foot and leg. The radiographs revealed that Scoby had severe osteomyelitis (bone infection) and chronic deep pyoderma (a bacterial skin infection) in his left foot and that extended up the tarsus bone in his left leg. As a result, Scoby’s left limb was amputated.
Scoby's Post-Surgical Rehabilitation
Following the amputation surgery performed by Dr. Bennett at the veterinary hospital, she provided IAS with a post-surgical daily treatment plan for Scoby, which included:
Anti-inflammatory Medication – Scoby was administered Metacam® (meloxicam) 1.5 mg/mL Oral Suspension by mouth, with food once a day. Metacam is a type of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drug that is given to help control pain and inflammation.
Antibiotics – Scoby received daily injections of Ceftiofur under the skin in his leg, once every 24 hours. Ceftiofur (ceftiofur sodium) is a broad-spectrum cephalosporin antibiotic that is known for its effectiveness across a wide range of bacteria.
Physiotherapy – For the first two weeks of healing following the surgery, Scoby was placed in a special sling made for him. This was important for Scoby in order to help prevent his remaining leg from atrophying. After two weeks, IAS started to add in sessions of hydrotherapy and physical therapy.
Support restraint: IAS made a sling with the intention of helping to provide Scoby some support for his body weight, and to allow him to move his remaining leg. IAS alternates between the sling and a ground nest several times daily.
Aquatherapy: Scoby is placed in a small kiddie pool (which also contains fresh, clean water for each session) 5 times a week.
Physical Therapy: While Scoby’s new prosthetic leg was getting designed, he was provided with his very own, 3D-printed therapy skateboard as a mobility aid, to help him with his physical therapy. He does about four sessions each week with his skateboard.
Wound Care – Scoby’s dressing and bandage needed to be changed daily. Upon each bandage change, IAS also made sure to closely inspect the healing wound in order to spot any signs of infection.
Environmental Management – A very important aspect of Scoby’s care was ensuring that he was kept in a very clean, dry environment. This meant that he stayed indoors in a first aid recovery area that was constantly cleaned and soiled bedding replaced. Unfortunately, Scoby could not go outside with the other birds at the sanctuary until his leg completely healed.
Mental Status & Support - When Scoby initially arrived at IAS, it was clear he wasn’t a big fan of humans. Whenever a human would approach the duck, he would hiss at them and assume a defensive position. IAS believe Scoby’s his defensiveness was fear-related and most likely stemmed from previous experiences with humans. However within a couple of months of being cared for kindly by IAS, Scoby seemed to eventually understand that IAS was just trying to help him, and he slowly began to trust humans again, and slowly stopped hissing at them.
3D Print Design of Scoby's New Prosthetic Limb
The use of 3D printing in veterinary medicine for creating prosthetics for animals is becoming increasingly more common. 3D printing is ideal for making one of a kind items at cost-effective prices, which is exactly what is needed for animals with amputated limbs (like Scoby), in order to recreate the body part that they lost.
IAS recognized that the process of first finding, then engaging a 3D printing designer might take some time. Not the mention, the amount of time needed for the designers to design a leg prosthetic for Scoby---for it can take a lot of trial and error fittings in order to fit properly and be comfortable.
ISA’s Operations Manager, Carrie Howerton, started calling several organizations that were known for designing 3D printed prosthetics. One of the first companies she called was New Mind Design. Jocelyn Kolb-DeWitt MFA, the Principle of the Company and Assistant Professor of Art and Design at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, responded immediately and was very enthusiastic about the opportunity.
IAS decided to engage New Mind Design in the developed of Scoby’s new prosthetic limb. They also discussed the design of a temporary mobility device that could help him with his physical therapy in the meantime—which is how they developed Scoby his own customized, 3D-printed skateboard.
Since then, the first prototype for Scoby’s prosthetic limb has been printed and was fitted on his amputated limb for evaluation of fit and material comfort. Scoby’s leg had to be amputated close to his shoulder joint. As a result, there is hardly a “stump” at all. After trying many different prosthetic designs, the team realized that no design would stay securely attached to his body while offering Scoby comfort and ease of movement. Sadly, they moved on to plan B, which is accustom made cart that allows Scoby to use his remaining leg to propel himself over pastures, through the barn, and even in water. He tried the first prototype yesterday with great success. The team is making some final adjustments and, soon, Scoby will have his own set of wheels!
Scoby's New Friendships
During Scoby’s physical therapy sessions, when he used his skateboard to get around, Scoby was given supervised access outside with the other birds at the sanctuary. During this time, Scoby decided to spend more time with different chickens, and some smaller ducks. Scoby developed a strong friendship with a chicken named Hannah Jane. Hannah Jane is a little white bird (IAS’s name for Cornish Crosses) who also has some mobility challenges. Scoby and Hannah Jane spend a lot of time together—sleeping next to one another, basking in the sunshine and fresh air, searching for tidbits of grass and other goodies while they stay at their own comfortable pace. An exciting development is that when the team from New Mind Design met Hannah Jane and witnessed her special bond with Scoby, they decided to make a cart for her, as well! We look forward to watching the two lovebirds zoom around the sanctuary together soon.
About Indraloka Animal Sanctuary
Indraloka Animal Sanctuary (IAS) is a non-profit, charitable (501c3) organization that provides “heaven on earth” for farm animals that have nowhere else to turn. The sanctuary is located in Mehoopany, PA where it is considered paradise to over 200 rescued animal survivors---representative of all species of farm animals. IAS was founded in 2005 by Indra Lahiri, PhD, who has dedicated her life to rescuing animals and helping to inform, inspire, and empower the community, especially children, on ways humans can better care for one another and the environment, while helping animals in need. The sanctuary is not named after Indra, but rather she is named after the Hindu God Indra who created Indraloka (which is the Sanskrit name for the heaven for the Gods).
About New Mind Design
New Mind Design, based out of East Stroudsburg, PA, is a creative design agency that produces visual identities, commercial products, and art direction that promotes businesses throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania. The agency is made up of a talented team of designers from the Art and Design Department of East Stroudsburg University.
Back Mountain Veterinary Hospital was founded by Dr. Brock Philips, who has been practicing small animal veterinary medicine in the community for over 30 years. Besides Dr. Brock, there are four other veterinarians who work at the hospital---Dr. Kelly Brooks, Dr. Devinne Bennett, Dr. Jennifer Bottaro, and Dr. Anjilla Cooley (who is also a veterinary surgeon). The hospital has a full support team of certified veterinary technicians, veterinary assistants, and office staff.
About VCA Dunmore Animal Hospital
VCA Dunmore Animal Hospital is an 8,800 sqft, state-of-the-art veterinary facility that has 5 spacious and modern exam rooms, a consult/comfort room, and 2 extensive surgery suites. VCA Dunmore is equipped with a CO2 laser for surgical procedures; isoflurane and sevoflurane anesthesia; a brand new VetSpec ECG/pulse oximeter/respiratory monitor equipped with a non-invasive blood pressure monitor; an ICU unit with O2 and heated surgical recovery kennels; tonopen; digital dental radiographic unit; dual wet table; K-Laser; and ultrasound unit.