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Doomed Dog Gets New Leash on Life with Prosthetic Paw

Hanger, Inc.(FRESNO, Calif.) -- A playful dog that lost a paw was set to be euthanized in California when a veterinary technician stepped in to save him and helped him get a prosthetic paw.

Skip the pit bull was two months old when his owners discovered he had a bone deformity. They could not afford treatment and his paw eventually fell off.

“There was some bone exposed and that’s when we said, you need to make a decision: either amputation or go ahead with euthanasia,” veterinarian Dr. Betty Lawson told ABC News’ Fresno affiliate, KFSN.

The owners, unable to care for him, gave the pup to the Merced Veterinary Clinic, where Skip was scheduled to be euthanized.

But then, veterinary technician Xenia Onofre intervened and took Skip in.

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“He was young and he was a puppy. I felt like he deserved a chance to be a dog and be a puppy,” Onofre told KFSN.

Two surgeries and months of treatment were unsuccessful. Doctors tried to graft skin from the bottom of Skip’s limb, but he was not tolerating it, rubbing and scratching despite the cone around his neck.

That’s when Lawson contacted Spencer Greene at Merced’s Hanger Clinic, the same clinic that made the first-ever prosthetic dolphin tail for Winter, a bottlenose dolphin who lost her tail after it got tangled in a crab trap in 2005. The story inspired the 2011 movie Dolphin Tale.

Greene took on the challenge.

“Without that paw, it puts stress on the other joints of his body, wearing him out prematurely,” Greene told ABC News. “We needed to do something so he could walk on that leg.”

Greene made a mold of Skip’s limb so that he could build a prosthetic that fit just right. Greene describes the device as “almost like a little cup that comes up the back of his leg” with two straps on the front to secure it and padding on the inside for comfort.

“He just literally took off running when he had it on,” Greene said.

Now, Skip is “able to run longer and play like other dogs,” according to the Hanger Clinic.

“It’s a great little project. We did it free of charge as a way to give back. It’s just been very gratifying,” Greene said. “Things have really changed for him.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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