Image: Sally the saluki
AP
Sally the saluki, a year-old pup rescued from Kuwait, is photographed while veterinarians were making assessments on whether the dog can receive a prosthetic leg using cutting-edge research. Veterinarians say that the saluki might make a good candidate for new research on grafting prosthetics to bone.
updated 6/28/2007 4:13:11 PM ET 2007-06-28T20:13:11

A puppy found hobbling in the Kuwaiti desert has ended up at Colorado State University, where she might be a candidate for an experimental prosthesis that could one day help humans.

Sally, a Saluki, was spotted in the desert several months ago by a volunteer with animal welfare group PAWS and taken to a shelter in Kuwait City. It’s unclear how the dog was injured.

Part of the dog’s left hind leg had been severed and a veterinarian in Kuwait wanted to amputate the remaining leg. PAWS volunteer Steve Holden e-mailed his alma mater, CSU, and its veterinary hospital to ask whether that was sound advice.

CSU animal surgeon Erick Egger responded that it was, but that Sally, who he estimated was about a year old, might make a good candidate for new research on grafting prosthetics to bone, which would prevent her from losing more of her leg.

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PAWS then flew Sally with Holden to Fort Collins, arriving Tuesday.

While humans can be fitted with a prosthetic limb to be strapped on, dogs don’t take to them well. Egger wants to try an “ingrowth” prosthesis.

One concept involves inserting a metallic implant at the bone, attaching an artificial limb to the implant, and then allowing bone to grow around it.

“The real critical part that will make it work or not is whether we can get soft tissues like skin and muscle to grow into the metal that extends into the body,” he said.

Veterinarian Robert Taylor in Denver has been working on the concept, which perhaps one day could be transferred to humans, Egger said.

It could be a month or two before Sally gets her new leg, he said. He is looking at ways to raise funds to pay for materials, which he estimates could cost about $5,000.

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