Ronnie Graves, whose company creates custom prosthetic limbs for animals

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Ronnie Graves—owner of  Veterinary Inclusive Prosthetics And Orthotics, in Bushnell, Florida, which, for more than 20 years, has created custom prosthetic limbs for animals suffering from injuries, illnesses, or birth defects—recounts how he got started in the business of working on those sorts of devices for human clients. An amputee himself, Graves mentions he was hired via a program operated by the State of Florida, initially earning the princely sum of $3.35 per hour. Graves also logotempdescribes a period working in Louisiana, an unhappy professional stint, although—as an inventor and budding entrepreneur–he did spend weekends demonstrating his invention, before returning to Florida, where he and his wife launched their own business. Graves describes how that business first widened out to fashion devices for animals: an area woman had a Morgan mare, Scarlett, who stepped into an armadillo hole and damaged her left front knee. tumblr_o8tk1bkZE71um7prco5_r1_1280Profoundly upset and desperate to avoid euthanizing Scarlett, the woman came to Graves, wondering if he could make a brace for the horse like he was doing for humans. He explained to her that he’d never done that kind of work for an animal, but would try—then threw himself into the task, consulting with a large animal veterinarian he knew at the University of Florida, and educating himself in horse anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, etc. He made the brace, and it worked. Graves recalls other animals he has helped, including Moses, mosesthe baby elephant in South Africa whose mother was poached, and whose tendons were too weak to support his weight. Upon hearing of Moses’ plight, Graves quickly made braces for him, and shipped them to South Africa. Graves explains that he’s provided devices for animals at sanctuaries, including Farm Sanctuary, The Gentle Barn, and Woodstock Farm Sanctuary. He emphasizes the importance of the humans caring for the animals who’ve been fitted for prosthetics, including removing them for a certain number of hours each day. Graves also briefly touches on some of the work undertaken by the Florida Disaster Animal Response And Transport, which he helped launch the better part of two decades ago. (www.my-vip.com, www.facebook.com/VIPVeterinaryProstheticsOrthotics/)

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ALSO: I spoke briefly with Dara Eckart, executive director of Friends of Strays, about the St. Petersburg shelter’s announced goal to adopt out 1000 animals in 2017. She explains that while in the last two or three years, they’ve reached an adoption level of around 500 animals—570 at the highest—Friends of Strays is on track, with about a month left, to reach that 1000 figure. (www.friendsofstrays.com, www.facebook.com/FriendsofStraysAnimalShelter/)

COMEDY CORNER: Max Rosenblum’s “Dog People” (http://maxrosenblum.com)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Jake Shimabukoro’s “Dragon” (A nod to “Uke It Out 3.0 WMNF’s 3rd Annual Ukulele Festival”)

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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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