During the fall 2016 semester, three College of Engineering students working as on-campus co-ops at New Mexico State University (NMSU) designed and built a wheelchair device to assist a dog who had his right hind leg amputated due to cancer the prior spring. Through the Aggie Innovation Space, Aggie Innovators Natalia Perez, Abdiel Jimenez, and Arturo Dominguez created the customized device for the almost 17-year-old Kita and his owner Michelle Lebsock.
“Even in his old age, Kita is the type of dog who absolutely loves walks, and although he healed well and adjusted to getting around on three legs, he would get tired very quickly and I could tell he really missed his long walks,” Lebsock said.
After realizing regular pet wheelchairs wouldn’t work for Kita, Lebsock contacted the Aggie Innovation Space for advice on do-it-yourself dog wheelchair instructions she had found online.
“I first spoke to Natalia, and instead of just offering advice she took on the project as her own,” Lebsock said. “The students worked tirelessly to make sure each piece was exactly right. Their work has made one little three-legged dog and his owner very happy.”
Perez said the hours spent working on this project were worth it when she and her fellow Aggie Innovators saw Kita run freely in the device and saw the happiness expressed in Lebsock’s reaction.
“This project reminded us how engineers can enhance quality of life, and made us realize that our duty as engineers is not just for people and the environment but for our furry friends that make our lives happier,” she said.
This article was adapted from information provided by NMSU.