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Thursday, June 28, 2012

The only wheels most lambs see is on a shopping trolley! Buster the disabled sheep is saved from the chop and given specially designed wheelchair

•Vets said he should be put down because of his deformed leg but volunteers were determined to find another solution
•The £445 device was paid for by donations from the local community
•Now Buster can whizz around the field at great speed and can even reverse

By Emily Allen

A disabled sheep is enjoying a new lease of life after receiving a specially designed wheelchair to help him get around.

Buster the sheep is unique amongst the animals at Clough Farm Animal Sanctuary, in Stockport, as instead of four legs he uses just three - plus four wheels.

Vets recommended that he be put down as a deformed leg meant he could barely walk but volunteers at the sanctuary were determined to find another solution.

On the move: Buster the sheep is unique amongst the animals at Clough Farm Animal Sanctuary, in Stockport, as instead of four legs he uses just three - plus four wheel. He is pictured with his owner Jayne Murray

Instead they raised enough money to give Buster his own custom made wheelchair.

It means he can now whizz around his field with the other sheep and even reverse.

Jayne Murray, 51, who runs the sanctuary with her partner Ronnie Price, 65, explained how Buster was born with his forelimbs splayed outwards and over time it became apparent he had a problem.

He moved to the sanctuary with another sheep, Poppy, in April 2011 and shortly afterwards Ms Murray sought out a vet who might be able to help him.

She said: 'I called all the local farm vets to get him examined and all but one told us it wasn’t worth their time as he should have been put down at birth. They said he had no hope of living for long.

'We eventually found a vet in Whalley Bridge who agreed to see him so we put him in a pet carrier and took him there. He moaned all the way and it wasn’t until I picked him up and carried him in my arms that he shut up.'

New lease of life: The custom-made wheelchair is specially made and the harness and frame cost £455

Buster spent five days at Leahurst animal hospital where vets carried out full X-rays and scans and also intensive physio.

They discovered that all his muscles and tendons were welded to the bone at a 90 degree angle and, as sheep feed on their elbows, surgery to amputate was not an option - Buster would need to be put down.

Ms Murray said: 'We were devastated. Apart from his leg, Buster was such a happy chap. He would play with Poppy and run around the paddock without a care in the world.

'The physio hadn’t worked and the vet explained that the pressure caused by walking on three legs would eventually damage him internally.

'All we needed was something to support his leg.'

One of us: The device means Buster is back on his feet with the other sheep and can move at great speed

Another volunteer at the sanctuary had heard of a dog that had a wheelchair specially made and suggested Buster get a similar device to help him get around.

However, a specially made harness and frame cost £455 and the sanctuary did not have the funds to pay for it.

But an appeal to the local community to help Buster get his wheels meant he was back on his feet in just a couple of months.

Ms Murray said: 'We noticed that when we were in the enclosure with Buster he would lean on us and hold himself up using us as a crutch.

'We decided that if we could get a contraption to support his deformed leg he could hopefully get around easier.

'One of our volunteers searched the internet and found dog wheelchairs which seemed to do what Buster needed and set about making enquiries to see if we could find one to fit a sheep.

'He looked very confused when we first strapped him in but he took a step forward and as he felt the frame move he soon got the idea.

'He quickly learnt how to move at great speed across the yard and steer using his other leg. Even learning how to reverse when he got stuck was wonderful to watch.

'Now, he loves nothing more than scooting about in his wheelchair. The wheels are too big for his pen so I take him out for four hours a day so he can run around to his heart’s content.

'He is so comfortable in his chair that he stands in it and waits for us to hook him up to the harness so he can go out. It’s so wonderful to watch him clearly enjoying his new mobility.

'There have been a few funny moments though, like the first time he flew down a hill and I thought he would never stop.

'Another time Buster managed to get his frame stuck between two trees. Most importantly, the wheelchair saved his life and our farm would be a lesser place without him.'



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