Derrick Campana: A Dog’s Best Friend

December 13, 2018 at 1:43 pm 2 comments

Derrick Campana shaping a leg mold at his Sterling, Va., facility.

I spent yesterday in Sterling, Va., not far from Dulles airport, immersed in the world of Derrick Campana, a 2001 Penn State kinesiology grad who has an unusual occupation: He makes braces and prosthetics for animals.

We first heard about Campana when a reader sent us a newspaper clipping about his work some months back. We did a little Googling, wondered, How have we not heard about this guy before?, and knew right away it would be a great story for the Penn Stater. The only question was deciding on a writer to assign it to. Then on Oct. 1 I stepped out of the editor role and Ryan Jones stepped in, and I became “editor-at-large,” with an assortment of responsibilities that includes finding and writing stories for the magazine. So I volunteered myself for the Derrick Campana piece, Ryan agreed, and I emailed Campana to schedule a visit to his company, Animal OrthoCare.

Campana is one of only a handful of people in the world who do what he does—and in fact he does his work all over the world. Animal Planet devoted a one-hour documentary last June to his efforts to fit a leg brace to a six-ton elephant in Botswana named Jabu, and when I visited him yesterday, he was freshly back from England, where he constructed prosthetic front legs for a cow named Nipper Jackson at the Hugletts Wood Farm Animal Sanctuary. He has also developed braces and prosthetics for goats, camels, turtles, and birds.

But the majority of his work is with pets—dogs, mostly—and during yesterday’s visit I had a chance to meet three different people who had brought their dogs to Campana for help with arthritis and other problems. I also was able to watch Campana and his staff in their workshop, a large, warehouse-like space where they work with molds of animals’ legs to create the custom-fitted devices. And I chatted with Campana about his undergraduate experience at Penn State, his unusual career path, and the satisfaction he gets from helping alleviate a pet’s pain, save it from costly surgery, and in some cases save its life.

Below are a few photos from yesterday’s visit. Click on any of them to see a larger version. First, here’s one of the workspace, complete with Campana’s dog, Henry:

Next, Campana and an assistant test the fit of a leg brace on an arthritic 10-year-old boxer named Frank.

Frank may not look too pleased in the photo above, but he was plenty happy to give Campana some kisses afterward:

And here’s one of several walls of the office space at Animal OrthoCare that have photos of the animals Campana has helped:

Look for a story about Derrick Campana in the magazine in an upcoming issue.

Tina Hay, editor-at-large

 

Entry filed under: Alumni, The Penn Stater Magazine. Tags: , , , .

Every Day a Struggle, Every Day A Gift Inside our March/April Issue

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Inside our March/April Issue | The Penn Stater Magazine  |  February 27, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    […] readers of this blog already know about Derrick Campana ’01, so you’ll be pleased to see that he not only made it into […]

  • 2. Louis Colabove  |  December 7, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    I heard about this great Company when I read the article in the Penn Stater. Derrick and his team are absolutely wonderful! We are in the process of fitting our German Shepherd, Nala Grace for a Custom Knee Brace for her left rear leg. Our first attempt at making the cast was a dud, so they sent us more casting material at no extra cost via Priority Mail! What business does that without charging you more money?! We are so glad to have found him and are on our way to giving our girl the best quality of life! Thank you for dedicating your life and work to helping animals! We Are!!!!!!!

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