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New Mexico Chihuahua, born with three paws, to get a bionic one

December 10, 2012|By John M. Glionna
  • A screenshot of Peggy Leg from Enchantment Chihuahua Rescue's website. Peggy's description includes an update on a bionic paw she is expected to receive.
A screenshot of Peggy Leg from Enchantment Chihuahua Rescue's website.… (Mary Jewell / Enchantment…)

Peggy the Chihuahua is a wee pooch with an unusual claim to fame -- the New Mexico pet was born with only three paws.

But not for long. Peggy, whose owners nicknamed her “Peg Leg” because of her missing back foot, will soon receive a bionic paw that animal researchers are calling the smallest canine prosthetic in the country.

The animal group Enchantment Chihuahua Rescue of Albuquerque announced that the minuscule dog has been officially accepted into a prestigious research program at North Carolina State University.

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"Enthusiasm-wise, it's running very high because we like to see Peggy running across the grass with four paws instead of three," Mary Jewell of Enchantment Chihuahua Rescue told an Albuquerque television station.

Researchers at NC State are working to develop a mini-prosthesis that will be similar in size to a human finger. “Into the future this can transfer into human beings getting really sensitive feelings in their fingers, which of course will help our veterans," Jewell said.

The news came so fast that the dog rescue group had to scramble to update its website, which had featured a picture of the small brown and white dog under the headline “News from Peggy Leg.”

“I’m waiting,” the caption read under the dog’s photo. “My bags are packed. I'm ready to go. We just need the call from the University of North Carolina Veterinary College. They say not to worry. They still think I am the perfect candidate for a bionic paw for my back leg. But now I have to wait some more. It looks like I won't get a new paw in my Christmas stocking.”

That call came the other day.

Researchers said Peggy would be the smallest animal in the United States to get a prosthesis. The plan is for the pup ultimately to be fitted with a full bionic paw, which will have electrodes connected to her nerves giving her full motion to run and scratch.

Molds of Peggy's leg have been sent to France and Germany where the bionic paw will be made.

The NC State program will cover the cost of Peggy's surgery.

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