A veterinarian in Puebla discovered his mission in life after persuading the owners of a three-month-old labrador puppy not to put it down after it injured its hip.
Instead of putting the pup to sleep, as was his “professional obligation,” Pablo Candias Salamanca proposed to keep the young dog for a few weeks to try to rehabilitate it.
“They accepted after I said the magic words: ‘free of charge,’” remembers Candias.
Those weeks turned into years, and now the Labrador dog, named Rueditas, or Little Wheels, rolls around on the veterinary clinic’s floors like it owns the place. The experience made Candias one of the pioneers in the fabrication and commercialization of prosthetics for injured, sick or amputated animals in Mexico.
The first wheelchair of sorts that Candias built was made of stainless steel, with repurposed wheels, and weighed nearly five kilograms, he remembered in an interview with El Universal, calling it “a mess, a piece of rubbish.” His most recent projects are lighter builds, using materials such as fiberglass and acrylics.
In the past 12 years has helped at least 300 animals — dogs, cats, hamsters, Guinea pigs, rabbits and even a turtle.
“I’ve had injured animals, animals with birth defects, herniated discs, or missing a limb. Most of them were victims of accidents: some had been run over, others had fallen or were bitten by larger animals.”
The veterinarian has helped all of them, giving them a second chance at life by building wheelchairs, carts and special, custom-made aids.
One patient, a turtle, had its hind legs bitten off by a dog. With the help of dental resins applied to its shell, Candias helped it walk again.
For Candias, animals take suffering very differently from humans.
When a dog loses a limb, for example, “it doesn’t feel self pity, it only wants to live,” said Candias, who imagines that when a canine patient receives one of his prosthetics, it thinks “wow, I can walk, go out, have fun.”
But people feel sorry for themselves and, with “a knot in the soul,” see a bleak future.
“I wish I could see life like my dogs do.”
Candias’ successful veterinary clinic, called Rueditas Racing Team, also allows him to take care of other animals in “disadvantageous situations,” caring for street dogs and other animals with orthopedic surgery and rehabilitation apparatus.
“I identify with the dogs. I see them and tell myself: if it wants to go on, why can’t I?”
Source: El Universal (sp)