A group of future engineers are putting their skills to the test to help a family dog get back to a normal life.
Engineering students at the Lewisville School District’s Career Center East in North Texas are working to create a prosthetic leg for a 5-year-old Labrador named Macey.
Macey, owned by Career Center staff member Linda Schlette, lost a hind leg after coming down with an aggressive form of cancer last summer.
Schlette said Macey had developed a knot on her leg that went from small growth to cancerous in just about a month, and veterinarians said they’d have to amputate the leg to remove all of the cancer before it spread to the rest of the dog’s body.
"It was very tough. I cried at first,” said Schlette.
The surgery seemed to be successful, though, as Macey has been cancer free since, with vets continuing to check her regularly. She’s also learned to run and play again even with only three legs.
Schlette’s high schoolers, though, decided to take a stab at giving the dog back a fourth leg.
Sophomore Mikayla Beardsley began leading a team to engineer a custom prosthetic for Macey.
The students immediately found some options out there for animals missing limbs, but few with as much leg removed as Macey, and most being custom creations.
So they’ve spent the school year working through various different designs created specifically for the Labrador using 3D printing, as well as other materials.
Now they have a design they’ve started piecing together and hope to have ready for Macey to try out by the end of the school year.
"Hopefully, it will work in the best case scenario and it would just be amazing because she'd be able to walk like a normal dog, and run and play,” said Beardsley.
Engineering teacher Stan Feighny said the students came up with the idea while working on a national project called "Enable" which develops prosthetic hands for humans.
"And they recognized, 'well, gee whiz, maybe we can do this for Macey,'” said Feighny.