Shaktiman, the Dehradun police horse who had one of its legs amputated, is now walking again. The horse was injured at a March 14 political rally that turned violent. It suffered multiple fractures, and initially did not seem likely to survive.
Since then though, public support and the assistance of a good samaritan from America have led to this heartening video of the horse hobbling forward on its new prosthetic leg. A policeman in charge says after the horse has been bathed, that it looks happy and they are hopeful of his fast recovery. Shaktiman will never be able to resume his official police duties though.
The prosthetic leg was arranged for and fixed by Jamie Vaughan, an American animal lover who lives in Paro, Bhutan and runs an animal shelter there. According to this BBC report, Vaughn who has come to be referred to as “chachi” (aunt) by the Dehradun police officers, “has used her extensive network of contacts to fund most of Shaktiman's post-operative care.”
The report also says, “she has facilitated the construction of a new tin shed for the horse, which has been fitted out with two water-cooled fans, a mosquito net and fluorescent lamp. Shaktiman also gets a massage every day.”
“His bedding is changed every second day and the bandage is changed twice a week.”
On March14, a Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Ganesh Joshi had charged at the horse with a lathi, and though he denies having hit the horse, the horse fell down and broke its left hind leg. Joshi was arrested and spent four days in jail before being released on bail. He vehemently denied having hit the horse, and had made a dramatic statement in March that if found guilty he would chop off his leg.
Fractures in horses are very different from those in humans, according to this report in the Indian Express.
“The biggest problem here is that unlike humans, in majority of the cases, a horse cannot recover from its injuries, forcing vets to opt for euthanasia... A horse’s bones are much lighter. So while they must be strong enough to carry the animal’s weight, they have to be light for them to be able to go fast. When they break, veterinarians say, they can often just shatter.”
The video above is from April 13. It was provided by the officials at Uttarakhand Animal Welfare Board and put up on Youtube by one Alokparna Sengupta.
Update: On Wednesday April 20, despite the prosthetic leg and partial recovery, Shaktiman died.