El Paso

EPISD students help paralyzed dog with rehab, customized wheelchair

CCTE helps paralyzed dog

Students at EPISD's Center for Career, Technology and Education are helping a paralyzed dog with rehab and a customized wheelchair. 

MuttLove Dog Rescue, a non-profit organization which rescues abused and neglected dogs, rescued Camila, a paralyzed eight-year old Golden Retriever. Officials say Camila was taken to a vet clinic in Juarez to be euthanized but the vet couldn't and instead contacted MuttLove Dog Rescue. 

"MuttLove took Camila to a veterinarian here in El Paso, they did a physical exam and diagnosed her with a disease called IVDD, which is inervertebral disc disease, so with that the disc ruptures through and puts pressure on the spinal cord so that's why she's paralyzed," Dominique Nehring, CCTE's certified veterinary assistant instructor said. 

Nehring says the vet then suggested physical therapy. That's when EPISD's Center for Career, Technology and Education stepped in to help.

"I said bring her here, it'll be a good experience for the kids, we have the facilities to do that and so we're going to attempt to rehabilitate her," Nehring said.

The students have already seen some positive results. Camila can now stand for a couple of minutes and has shown movement and feeling in her left hind leg. 

"We're trying to get Camila back up and moving, we're trying to help her walk again, but if she can't walk again we're just wanting to restore that life to her, and have her moving around, restore mobility for her," Matthew Hernandez, junior at Chapin High School said. 

Camila will undergo physical therapy at least three times a week, which will include underwater tramular work, pool work, laser therapy, along with strength training and passive range of motion.

"The students will take her legs and move them will have her stand, do different maneuvers just to kind of get if we can't get the muscle memory back and get the nervous system kind of back on track to see if we can get her to walk," Nehring said. 

The students, who are all juniors and seniors, are training to be certified vet assistants. vet techs and veterinarians. 

"It's really amazing, it's like all the work that we've been doing is actually paying off. At first when she came here, whenever she wanted to do something she would use her front two paws and drag herself and that would be heartbreaking to see, but now that she has the wheelchair, it's like she can get back to normal again," Jessica Rivera, a senior at Silva Health Magnet said.

It's unclear if she'll be able to walk again, but she will undergo rehab at CCTE for 6-8 weeks. Meanwhile, engineering students are designing and building the dog a customized wheelchair which will serve as her main mode of transportation.

"We used PVC pipe and connectors and put everything together we got some lawn and garden wheels, of course we have some bolts and then we used a window screen a pet-proof window screen to use as a hammock so that she can sit in it and then we have some dog collars on top that are adjustable," Lisa Alvarado, engineering teacher at CCTE said. 

The wheelchair, which is a prototype, will need slight adjustments before she can use it permanently. The students plan to build another one and adjust the wheels to suit her height.  

"Very simple materials but very sturdy. The design, well we did a lot of research. At first we didn't know what to do, and then we all sat down and said, okay, let's think about this. Went to the dog and got her measurements, her belly. It's still a work in progress, it's a prototype," Mario Machado, senior at Burgess High School, said. 

Camila arrived on Monday and Alvarado says students started to build on Wednesday. By Friday, Camila was able to test it out. 

"I feel honored, I feel happy that I get to help a dog in need. I feel like Superman," Mario Machado, senior at Burgess High School, said. 

Camila will undergo rehab for 6-8 weeks. In the meantime she is staying with a foster family. She'll be available for adoption in May. For information, you can call volunteers at (915) 236-7900.


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