Jaipur, India – There is so much worry about the Amazon forest fires as we know countless animals have lost their habitats and lives there. But, in usual circumstances also we are losing animals at a faster rate and leaving countless of them crippled because of human faults and insensitivity. Road accidents are the most common cause of amputation in animals; but never been attended to through clinical management or preventive approaches.
Dr Tapesh Mathur, a veterinarian based in India found a solution for amputee animals in prosthesis (artificial support) that he developed to offer back the dignity of life and minimize their misery. He would see accidental animals struggle each day during his posting at one of the government animal centers inhabiting more than 10 thousand stray animals and most of them would be brought after being hit by a rash vehicle. His work is now popular as ‘Krishna Limb’ after a success in 2014 following several attempts of field trials on large animals.
Hopes through Free Service
India has been facing big issues with stray and abandoned animals. Religious and cultural practices in India disallow butchering of cows, and these stray cows move freely on roads risking both human and animal lives. It was a young calf named ‘Krishna’ who had his front right limb amputated after a road accident. The calf, when fitted with the limb, jumped with joy with this new found freedom. This success inspired Dr Tapesh to undertake this work as a mission and since then there is no looking back. Though animal prosthesis is not a new practice in the world, but low cost and free service of ‘Krishna Limb’ in India has made it possible for average income people to start looking at it with hope and seek help to minimize suffering of the animal.
Initially, it was tried on calves, cows and bulls only; later dogs, buffalo and horse also enjoyed it equally and now he receives variety of queries for birds, wild animals in sanctuaries and more. Not all can be done though. The cost of making and undertaking this whole effort was huge, but Dr. Tapesh never wanted it to be a deterrent, hence provides it for free and his passion made him cover 11 Indian states with more than 95 animals being helped through his mission and innovation.
Making a Difference
This work on animal disability has drawn attention toward the plight of amputee animals, their care and clinical management. The work of ‘Krishna Limb’ has also been published in veterinary science journals, animal story books, awarded by scientific fraternity and recently acknowledged among ‘Antyodaya’ (reaching to last one on the ladder) best practices by Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Government of India, collection of which was done through Indian Social Responsibility Network.
Dr Tapesh, who has also served as a member of the central committee which looks at cruelty aspects in experimental animals under ministry of environment, forest and climate change, shares that he is approached by animal owners and animal centers from all parts of India. He measures the impact of his work not on quantity but on sheer fact that people are aware and seek guidance for newly injured or for already amputated animals stray, pet or domesticated, all.
When Kalam had a Word
It’s not easy to have favorable response from all owners or all animals. Many of them take it for granted also. But those who attend to their animals under clinical guidance after fitting the limb have found worth in this effort. Mohan C Joshi, owner of an animal centre in Dehradun, Uttarakhand shares that “I came to know about this work during a personal discussion with former President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and then got in touch with Dr Tapesh to visit us as we had four cases of amputated cows. He came and fitted our animals with ‘Krishna Limb’ and it’s a delight to see them living a comfortable life after.”
Manan Vyas from Rajasthan also expresses similar sentiments saying “after using the ‘Krishna Limb’, my animals became comfortable with their mobility and feeding both. It’s a big relief to care takers also who find it difficult to handle such cases, especially the owners of the shelter homes.”
Sustaining Good Work
Talking to India America Today, Dr Tapesh shares that so far people and well-wishers have helped him sustain this work. He has created his own small lab. People reach out, refer cases, take care of travel too and many offer to volunteer for the work, but for further improvement in the design and functionality of the prosthesis and to keep it low cost, he hopes to have big support one day to do more research and more innovation.
The most challenging part in this work remains that animals can’t express their helplessness and this artificial support needs to be available at their doorstep. To meet this challenge the doctor has to travel as ‘Krishna Limb’ is not one size fit for all, it is customized as per size, weight and other parameters of the animal in need of it. And after fitting this support, there is long patience for animal to adapt and be in regular practice of it. His passion, persistence and encouraging response from some owners and caretakers of the amputee animals has kept him going without large scale support so far. (IAT)