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Russian rescue dog Monika has a new leash on life after prosthetics operation

By Olga Pavlova and Jeevan Ravindran, CNN

Russian rescue dog Monika has a new spring in her step after being fitted with titanium prosthetic legs — just months after doctors suggested she should be put down because of severe injuries.

The operation was conducted by vet Sergei Gorshkov, who is based in the city of Novosibirsk and has fitted 37 animals with prosthetic limbs since 2015 — although Monika is the first dog to benefit from his work.

Two weeks after her operation, the pooch is adjusting well to her new mobility — and Gorshkov says she will soon be leading a normal life, although he was “surprised” by the speed of her recovery.

“I don’t think we were optimistic about that,” he told CNN. “But on the third day she started standing up and walking around the clinic, going from room to room.”

However, it wasn’t easy getting Monika into the operation room — she was initially found without her paws in December 2020 by workers in the village of Plastunovskaya, and the volunteers who rescued her suspect she had been abused.

Monika was brought into the care of animal rescue volunteers Marina Gapich and Alla Leonkina, based in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar, where she had her damaged limbs amputated and received a blood transfusion.

Gapich told CNN she and Leonkina had “sleepless nights” over Monika, and disagreed with veterinary advice to have her euthanized. The two women got in touch with Gorshkov and raised 400,000 Russian rubles (over $5,400) for the operation.

Monika’s prosthetics then had to be printed by a 3D printer in the town of Troitstk, not far from Moscow and then biocoated at Tomsk Polytechnic University before Gorshkov carried out the procedure.

For the vet, much of his work has taken on a new significance during the last 18 months, with the “pandemic pet” being especially important to some.

“I’m happy to give a new life to the animals since especially now during Covid,” Gorshkov said. “People find some consolation in animals and so by treating animals, I treat people.”

And Monika has already found her way into the hearts of the volunteers who rescued her. Asked whether the pooch would be staying in Novosibirsk, the answer from Gapich was a definite no.

“We are her carers, we are responsible for her!” she told CNN, adding that she and Leonkina were in touch with a London-based animal behaviorist who might now be consulted on Monika’s case.

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