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No kidding: Boonie the goat loves his new prosthetic leg

Post by News Tribune Staff on Sep. 24, 2008 at 3:55 pm with No Comments »
September 24, 2008 3:55 pm

Boonie wasn’t quite sure how to react. At first, he just looked at the plastic contraption attached to his leg. And when he wanted to walk away he limped off on three legs.

After all, it takes a while to adjust to a new prosthetic – especially if you’re a goat.

The 3-year-old, white-and-brown animal received a plastic device Wednesday that will substitute as his new hoof almost three months after it was amputated. But Boonie needed a bit of coaxing to use it.

"Come on Boonie," his owner, Marna Peterson of Edgewood, told him. "It’s your new foot, Boonie!"

After a few minutes, he began walking gingerly on the device and resting against it. And that had Peterson, who owns five goats, beaming.

Boonie’s stump – the vets amputated just above his front right hoof – fits into a brace and is secured with Velcro. At the bottom of the device is a plastic semi-circle with rubber, tire-like tread.

His veterinarian, Dr. Krystal Grant of Tahoma Veterinary Hospital outside Spanaway, believes he is the third or fourth goat to receive a prosthetic leg.

A rope and a taste for blackberries led to the loss of Boonie’s leg on July 3.

He was tied to a pole outside Peterson’s Edgewood home while he roamed a bit and nibbled on the berries. He got his foot caught in the rope and wound it tighter as he tried to free himself.

"As strong as he is, he pulled and pulled and broke the bone right above the hoof," Peterson said. "The bone was sticking out the side of his leg about three inches."

Boonie’s owners saw his plight and cut the rope. They rushed him to the veterinary.

"He didn’t bawl, he didn’t make a noise, he didn’t fuss, he didn’t complain," she said. "The only time he complained was when we put him in a big stall in the back. He just didn’t want us to leave him."

Most animals in that situation are euthanized, Grant said. But, she added, most goats Boonie’s size are raised to become someone’s meal. Boonie was Peterson’s pet; she purchased him three years ago at the Puyallup Fair and named him after former Seattle Mariners second baseman Bret Boone.

They scheduled an amputation. Given Boonie’s size – he’s 190 pounds – Grant estimated he would live about two or three years before he would develop arthritis in his left front leg because of the added stress on it.

The next day, Peterson and her family members scoured the Web looking for options. A story about a goat found in New York’s Central Park – it had apparently fallen off a slaughter truck – which received a prosthetic leg eventually led them to OrthoPets, a Denver-based company specializing in animal orthotic and prosthetic devices.

Peterson filled out an online questionnaire and received a follow-up e-mail later in the day.

"It was right away, and on Fourth of July," she said. "I couldn’t believe it."

She sent the information on to Boonie’s veterinarian, who amputated the goat’s foot that Monday. That same day, Peterson ordered the prosthetic.

Boonie received a trial prosthesis with a foam lining that took an impression of where it fit properly. They sent it back to OrthoPets, which adjusted the device and sent Boonie his current prosthetic.

Boonie’s medical bill – including surgery, antibiotics, follow-up appointments and the prosthetic – has run about $2,500. Peterson was prepared to pay much more if necessary.

"I would’ve spent whatever it took," she said. "This little guy brings me so much joy. I can go out there with those goats and work outside. They’re all right there beside you. They’re bugging you. They’re stepping on your feet. They’re pulling on your shirt. They’re just friends. They’re calm and so peaceful after you’re at work all week. They’re like kids to me."

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