Dr. Tapesh Mathur’s ‘Krishna Limb’ is helping disabled animals walk and run. He is a pioneer in India in making prosthetics for animals.
Dr. Tapesh Mathur, a veterinarian who serves at the Rural Veterinary Polyclinic in Jaipur, used to see numerous cases of amputation in animals. Most of these animals, especially cows, would lose their limbs in vehicle accidents. Dr. Tapesh performed surgeries and allowed the animals to be taken back by their owners. But he was always wary about the future of these animals. “They could not walk or lead normal lives. Their owners wouldn’t have the means to take care of invalid animals. This thought disturbed me for many years and I wished to do something for the animals. That is how I started researching the subject of prosthetics for animals,” says Dr. Tapesh.
A small room in Dr. Tapesh’s home became his workshop. He researched how prosthetics are made for humans and how they can be made for animals.
He started making lightweight moulds that could fit heavy animals like cows, something that had never been attempted before. He experimented with the moulds on a couple of amputee cows, only to see them fail. But Dr. Tapesh knew he shouldn’t give up.
Two-and-half years ago, a calf named Krishna, who had met with an accident, was brought to the polyclinic. The little animal’s leg had to be amputated to save its life. Dr. Tapesh, anxious and eager to help the poor creature walk again, decided to attempt fixing the prosthetic limb on Krishna. “It’s not an easy process, like it is for humans. We humans know that artificial limbs will help make our lives better. But the animals do not know that. They instinctively reject the limbs and fiddle to get rid of them,” says Dr. Tapesh. Krishna did the same initially. After 15 days of physiotherapy, Krishna slowly got accustomed to the limb.
“After that, Krishna did not just walk; he ran. I cannot explain the joy of that sight,” says Dr. Tapesh.
After this first successful attempt, Dr. Tapesh and his wife Dr. Shipra, a journalist, decided to pursue fitting animals with prosthetics as their life’s mission. They named their initiative after the little calf – Krishna Limb. In just two years since then, Krishna Limb has given a new lease of life to 35 cows and two dogs.
Each prosthetic limb costs between Rs. 3,000 and Rs. 4,000. But Krishna Limb is offering the devices completely free of cost! Dr. Tapesh and Dr. Shipra set aside a portion of their monthly earnings to fund Krishna Limb. Many animal lovers have come forward to make donations as well.
Dr. Tapesh says, “We do not feel like taking money for what we do. What we do is like a moral responsibility. We humans have inflicted this plight on the animals. It is our duty to make sure they lead dignified lives.”
Dr. Tapesh is a pioneer in India in making prosthetics for animals. Practically no research and work has been done in our country for this cause. Outside the country, apart from dogs, nothing has ever been done for heavy animals like cows (there was one remarkable story of an elephant getting an artificial limb in Thailand though).
Until now, Dr. Tapesh was making prosthetic limbs for below-knee amputee animals. With his continued research efforts, he is all set to launch prosthetics for above-knee amputations too. This is path-breaking because it will help animals with the bending action of their leg joints and increase their grip.
Dr. Tapesh’s innovation has brought him many laurels, including the Best Field Veterinarian Award conferred by the Indian Society for Veterinary Surgery (ISVS).
This November, a horse in Hyderabad will receive an artificial limb and, in Morena district in Madhya Pradesh, all disabled orphan animals will be fitted with prosthetics. Dr. Tapesh and Dr. Shipra are travelling to villages, towns and cities across the country to help amputated animals lead normal lives and to support people who genuinely care for their animals.
You can write to Dr. Tapesh Mathur at firstname.lastname@example.org