Bobby walks again thanks to new treatment

PUBLISHED: 10:31 03 March 2008 | UPDATED: 21:35 15 June 2010

 VIDEO: Thanks to new state-of-the-art treatment Bobby is now able to walk again.

VIDEO: Thanks to new state-of-the-art treatment Bobby is now able to walk again.

A Shetland pony at Ferne Animal Sanctuary near Honiton has been cured of a crippling disease thanks to new state-of-the-art treatment.

A Shetland pony at Ferne Animal Sanctuary near Honiton has been cured of a crippling disease thanks to new state-of-the-art treatment.

The eyes of the veterinary world have turned to the tranquil setting of Ferne in recent weeks as a pioneering new medical procedure has enabled Bobby, a 25 year-old male, to walk again.

Bobby has suffered badly from the painful disease laminitis over the past 20 years and the condition had recently got so severe he was unable to walk or even get up from the floor of his stable.

Staff at the 52-acre sanctuary were facing up to the uncomfortable truth he may have to be put to sleep when a local equine vet read of a revolutionary new treatment that had been carried out in America.

"We were coming to the end of the line in terms of options we had left to help Bobby," said Nikki Haddock, head of horses at Ferne.

"He was in severe discomfort and we would have had to put him to sleep had this last chance not come along."

Laminitis is common in hoofed animals and occurs when the pedal bone in the foot becomes deformed and starts pushing down through the hoof, causing the tendons to contract and the area to become inflamed.

"It's incredibly painful for the animal," said Nikki.

"It would be like having a permanent in growing toenail for us."

The groundbreaking new technique had only been attempted twice before in the UK and involves a type of aluminium orthopaedic shoe being fitted to Bobby's front hooves to stretch the tendons in his feet.

Bobby will have to wear the shoes for up to a year with a farrier readjusting the angle of the wedges every six weeks until his feet have realigned.

Nikki continued: "The change in Bobby after the procedure is incredible.

"He's so much happier and can walk, sleep and eat properly.

"He's able to go out into the yard and it means he can have a much happier retirement."

A registered charity, Ferne was founded in 1939 to provide refuge for the pets of those leaving to fight in the war.

Sadly, but predictably, many owners did not return and staff at Ferne found homes for some of the creatures and vowed to give lifelong care to those that remained.

It is currently home to around 300 unwanted or retired animals from horses to chipmunks.

Entrance to the sanctuary is free of charge and it has its own nature trail, dragon ponds and conservation area and offers a peaceful home for the residents.

Animals living there include horses, ponies, dogs, cats, pigs, goats, ferrets and chinchillas amongst others.

Many animal lovers who are unable to keep animals themselves take advantage of the sponsorship scheme which enables them to receive quarterly newsletters to track the progress of their adopted animal along with photos and relevant updates.

Sponsorship runs from £5 to £25 per year.

Animals are also available for adoption.

There is no charge but staff ask for a donation to help the sanctuary carry out its charitable work, work that incurs a monthly vet bill of £2,800, amongst other costs.

The sanctuary will be holding an Easter Egg Trail and Parade on Saturday, March 22, beginning at 2.30pm.

For more information on how to donate to Ferne or to arrange a visit contact (01460) 65214.

Staff are always happy to show schools, charitable organisations and community groups around the centre and can also arrange to bring animals to locations for visits.

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