“For instance, in a cowshed full of productive cattle, if one cow fractures its limb, we have to amputate it immediately. Four years ago, there was nothing more to be done beyond that. The cow, in most cases, would be neglected by the owner or caregiver thereafter,” narrates Dr Tapesh Mathur, a veteran veterinarian surgeon from Jaipur.
He is perhaps better recognised as the creator of ‘Krishna Limb’ – India’s first prosthetic limb for animals. The Krishna Limb is a brainchild of Dr Mathur himself who manufactures these in his personal workshop and provides to amputee animals, completely free of cost. Though he is based in Jaipur as a surgeon at the government animal hospital, Dr Mathur has managed to help over 90 animals from all over India, including Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Telangana, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
A prosthetic limb for Krishna the calf
The designs of the prosthetic limbs are customised according to the animals – be it a cow, horse, dog, cat or others. Nearly four years ago, the basic framework was originally invented for a calf named Krishna.
“People would bring accidentally wounded cattle and other animals to me. In most cases, an amputation is necessary in case of a major fracture or infected limb. But I used to wonder what happens to the amputated animals. Once, during my visit to a nearby Goshala, I spotted these helpless animals lying uncared in a corner. Owners start overlooking them since they no more remain productive,” Dr Mathur reveals.
Around this time, a calf named Krishna was brought to Dr Mathur, who had to be amputated.
Determined to help the timid animal stand on his feet again, he came up with the very first prototype of a prosthetic limb and fitted it to Krishna. It took the little calf a few weeks to get adjusted to the device, but once he did, he was bouncing around in happiness.
Little Krishna’s delight touched Dr Mathur deeply and prompted him to start making prosthetic limbs for animals, investing his personal savings. He coined the term ‘Krishna Limb’ for these prosthetic limbs, after his first successful effort with Krishna the calf.
Dr Mathur provides the limbs free of cost
Dr Tapesh Mathur and his wife Shipra Mathur started the charitable trust – Pen Media Foundation, with their own savings, which welcomes financial contribution from beneficiaries and well-wishers, and the collected funds are invested in the limbs. “But we never demand a penny from the owners whose cattle and pets we help out,” Dr Mathur clarifies.
The limbs cost around Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 depending on the animal, but all the money comes from the Pen Media funds.
From cows, horses, dogs to parrots
The present design of the Krishna Limb is a result of a series of upgrades from the very first one. Now the team is adept in customising prosthetic limbs for different animals upon request. “We generally work with cows, horses and dogs but have started receiving applications for other animals as well. Recently, we got a request for a limb for a pet parrot. We are still working on the design,” he shares.
Their working procedure is quite straining since it is impossible to transport an amputee animal to Jaipur from some remote part of the country. So, Dr Mathur personally visits the amputee animal with his team, records all necessary details of measurements and mould the Krishna Limb accordingly. Later, during a second visit, the limb is attached to the animal.
Checking the progress of the animals
Fitting the animals with a prosthetic limb is no cakewalk, as the animals fail to understand its use and feel uneasy with an external attachment. That is why a 15-day physiotherapy training is mandated for the animals to get accustomed to the polypropylene limb and start walking again.
“Earlier, we found some cases of carelessness where owners did not practise the physiotherapy as per our advice, and the prosthetic limb became only an impediment to the animal. So, now we compulsorily make the owners sign an affidavit where they pledge to look after the animal after the limb attachment. We also ensure to take feedback from them after a month or two,” shares Dr Mathur.
Want to see your dearest pet jump and leap around happily again? You can contact Krishna Limb and place a request at 09928015504.