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3D printer helps get injured puppy back on four paws

Posted at 4:44 PM, Oct 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-10 18:13:56-04

An unlikely hero, as a local university comes to the aid of a canine in need.

Technology at Case Western Reserve University helped get Bento the puppy back to full strength.

Bento's story begins at a Pennsylvania pet store. The energetic pup was believed to have been dropped, severely fracturing his forearm.

Despite receiving immediate care, including surgery, this little guy developed complications, making it difficult to get around.

"I came into work one day, and there was this tiny, adorable little puppy staring out of a kennel." Emily Conway, Bento's owner.

An anonymous good Samaritan paid for Bento to have surgery at VCA Great Lakes Veterinary Specialists in Warrensville Heights.

"Even though his break was healing, he was healing with his leg sort of crooked," said Conway.

With a deformity setting in, Bento suffered another setback — a fracture.

"He missed out on some of his puppyhood. He had been through so much already, he was so young," said Conway.

Just a few months into his life, another surgery was on the horizon.

However, this one would be different.

"Normally I work with orthopedic surgeons and dental surgeons," said Malcolm Cooke, Executive Director, CWRU Think Box.

After hearing about Bento's struggles, Cooke took the dog's cat scan information and turned it into something his surgeon could hold.

"3D printing is used a lot for surgical planning," said Cooke.

A valuable, tangible tool, typically used to plan surgeries and help patients understand what will take place.

"In this case, I don't think Bento would have understood what was going to go on, but in humans, it is very important," said Cooke.

It's technology we're now seeing used more on animals.

"There's probably a sheep that might go through a similar process -- a sheep with a broken leg," said Cooke.

The 3D model gave Bento's surgeon a chance to map out cuts and pin placement ahead of time.

"Hopefully get all the deformities corrected maybe in one bone cut instead of having to do multiple trigonometry type cuts," said Andy Law, Bento's surgeon.

Law said that is something that can't usually be done until surgery.

"It would have been impossible to have got to this level of detail in terms of planning. The planning would have gone on in the OR," said Cooke.

This was Cooke's first time working with an animal.

"It was a wonderful experience. I've not met Bento yet, but I've seen lots of video of him running around, so that's very rewarding," said Cooke.

Conway said her little guy is making up for lost time, "chewing on the stairs, running around being naughty."

This 1-year old is now living his best life.

"He runs around, jumps on the chair, off the chair on the couch, zooms around the side then he reverses and it's just really fun to watch," said Conway.