- BC Games
Getting Dudley back on two feet
It’s safe to say Dudley is one lucky duck.
Thanks to some talented people who have volunteered their time to help, the one-footed fowl may soon find out what it’s like to be bipedal.
Dudley, a call duck, belongs to K9-1-1 Animal Rescue and Services owner Debbie Fortin. She says the duckling lost his foot in an attack by some “vicious chickens.” But he survived and has adapted to life at the shelter.
“It doesn’t have the same quality of life but it doesn’t know any better – he’s very mobile, he just gets around differently,” said Fortin. “He hasn’t got the activity level of a normal duckling, but he swims amazingly well. He’s figured out his own little rudder system.”
Fortin says she was comfortable in letting Dudley follow his own path. But her son, Brandon Schweitzer, thought of a way to help the duckling get back on both feet. He contacted friend Terence Loring, a mechanical engineer who recently started his own company in Kamloops, 3 Pillar Designs. Loring specializes in 3D architecture and design, but Schweitzer’s story about Dudley convinced Loring to visit Sicamous and pay Dudley a visit. Loring said he could see that it was causing the duckling pain to walk around on the injured stump, and decided to take on the challenge of creating a prosthetic leg/foot using 3D printing technology.
“It’s a little out of my usual experience, but I’m very excited to see the final product and see if we can help this little animal out,” said Loring. “There might be that chance where there’s other animals in similar situations, and if this could inspire people to kind of think outside of the box this could be a great thing.”
Loring is working on the design. To do the printing, he managed to partner with Canadian company Proto3000. Both are volunteering their time on this project.
“Proto3000 is a 3D engineering and printing company,” said Loring. “They were wanting to know about the background as well so I made a video to explain this little duckling’s story. I’ve got the preliminary design of the leg done and we’re just looking at different materials and different designs.”
Loring notes the work he’s doing is not precedent setting, that there was a case in the U.S. where another company was able to create a prosthetic leg for an older duck with a 3D printer. So he knows it’s possible. And, he adds, once he has a working 3D model, he’ll be able to easily resize it to create larger legs for Dudley as he gets older.
All this effort for Dudley has come as a bit of a shock for Fortin, who is delighted all the same.
“He was managing to get around so we wouldn’t kill him – he survived and that’s the way it is.”
Fortin expects Dudley’s new leg/foot will be ready in the coming weeks. And, even if it isn’t a success, she expects he’ll get by just fine.