According to this email forward, “Molly”, a pony who had a limb amputated after being attacked by a dog, was fitted with an artificial leg in a groundbreaking veterinary operation.
The message includes photographs of Molly with her new prosthetic leg. The information in the message is true and the photographs are genuine.
An article about Molly published on the Louisiana State University (LSU) website mirrors the information included in the email message. While recuperating at “Pony Paradise” – a small farm that was used by its owner Kaye Harris as a rescue facility for animal victims of Hurricane Katrina, Molly was seriously injured by another refugee, a pit bull.
Over time all of Molly’s extensive injuries healed except for her right front leg. Kaye Harris and Molly’s vet Dr Allison Denny-Barca eventually contacted Dr Rustin Moore, director of the Equine Health Studies Program at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine. After evaluation, it was decided that Molly would be a good candidate for “surgery that LSU veterinarians had never performed on a horse – amputation and the fitting of a prosthetic leg”.
The surgery was a resounding success. The LSU article notes:
Molly walked out of surgery on a temporary cast. By the time she received the first edition of her permanent prosthesis on Valentine’s Day, she was moving about, even jogging occasionally and cantering as if she had no disability at all.
“The prosthetic device is amazing. Even without it, Molly does really well, but the prosthetic has given her a whole new life,” said Barca. “And she asks for it. She’s amazing. She will put her little limb out and come to you and let you know that she wants you to put it on. Sometimes she wants you to take it off, too.”
Currently, Molly spends her days at Pony Paradise and visits Barca’s stable regularly on the Mississippi River levee for a physical check up and minor prosthetic adjustments.
During visits to children’s hospitals, Molly now gives hope and joy to sick and injured children. Those around her see her as a symbol of hope for New Orleans as the city struggles to recover from the devastation caused by Katrina’s fury.
The photographs of Molly used in this email forward were taken by Pam Kaster and are featured in her children’s picture book Molly the Pony, A True Story.
The following video produced by the LSU School of Veterinarian Medicine provides more information about Molly and the dedicated group of people who made the fitting of her unique prosthetic leg possible:
Subject: A Fantastic Pony
Meet Molly. She’s a gray speckled pony who was abandoned by her owners when Katrina hit southern Louisiana, USA . She spent weeks on her own before finally being rescued and taken to a farm where abandoned animals were stockpiled. While there, she was attacked by a pit bull terrier, and almost died. Her gnawed right front leg became infected and her vet went to LSU for help. But LSU was overwhelmed, and this pony was a welfare case. You know how that goes.
But after surgeon Rustin Moore met Molly, he changed his mind. He saw how the pony was careful to lie down on different sides so she didn’t seem to get sores, and how she allowed people to handle her. She protected her injured leg. She constantly shifted her weight, and didn’t overload her good leg. She was a smart pony with a serious survival ethic.
Moore agreed to remove her leg below the knee and a temporary artificial limb was built. Molly walked out of the clinic and her story really begins there.
‘This was the right horse and the right owner,’ Moore insists. Molly happened to be a one-in-a-million patient. She’s tough as nails, but sweet, and she was willing to cope with pain. She made it obvious she understood (that) she was in trouble. The other important factor, according to Moore , is having a truly committed and compliant owner who is dedicated to providing the daily care required over the lifetime of the horse.
Molly’s story turns into a parable for life in post-Katrina Louisiana . The little pony gained weight, her mane felt a comb. A human prosthesis designer built her a leg.
The prosthetic has given Molly a whole new life, Allison Barca DVM, Molly’s regular vet, reports. And she asks for it! She will put her little limb out, and come to you and let you know that she wants you to put it on. Sometimes she wants you to take it off too.’ And sometimes, Molly gets away from Barca. ‘It can be pretty bad when you can’t catch a three-legged horse’, she laughs.
Most important of all, Molly has a job now. Kay, the rescue farm owner, started taking Molly to shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers. Anywhere she thought that people needed hope. Wherever Molly went, she showed people her pluck. She inspired people. And she had a good time doing it.
‘It’s obvious to me that Molly had a bigger role to play in life’, Moore said, ‘She survived the hurricane, she survived a horrible injury, and now she is giving hope to others.’ ‘She’s not back to normal,’ Barca concluded, ‘but she’s going to be better. To me, she could be a symbol for New Orleans itself.’
© Photo 3 above Kaye Harris