Molly, the Horse with an Artificial Leg-Truth!


Summary of eRumor:

Pictures and a story of Molly, a horse that survived hurricane Katrina in Louisiana but lost a leg to infection after a dog attack.  It’s a story of survival and Molly is now being used as a source of inspiration to people in shelters and hospitals.

The Truth:

According to media reports, including an article in the New York times from May 16, 2006, this is true.

Hurricane Katrina in 2005 caused a lot of havoc for animals as well as people.  Nobody knows how many pets died or were displaced as a result of the storm.

Kaye Harris loves animals and lives on a pony ranch in St. Rose, Louisiana.   She willingly participated in adopting some of the homeless pets and, among other animals, took in an appaloosa that had been found wandering in St. Charles Parish.  She named it Molly.

One day Harris arrived at her ranch to the shocking scene of Molly being attacked by another adopted animal, a pit bull.  She said Molly’s lip was torn, she had a gash in her side, and all four legs had been severely injured.  She thought Molly was going to die.

She sought the help of veterinarian Dr. Allison Barca who treated Molly but knew that the horse’s right leg was too far gone and a few weeks after the attack Molly’s hoof fell off.  Both Dr. Barca and Harris made a passionate appeal to experts at Louisiana State University to consider fitting Molly with an artificial leg.   It was an uphill battle but after being with Molly for a couple of days, Dr. Rustin Moore, a veterinary surgeon, was impressed with the horse and began to feel like an artificial leg was worth a try.   After surgery to remove the leg below the knee, Molly was introduced to the folks at the Bayou Orthotic and Prosthetic Center, which had never before made prosthesis for an animal.   They succeeded, however, and Molly uses the artificial limb on a regular basis.  She is able to get around on three legs but has been known to communicate some of the times when she wants to use her new leg.

Molly has now become an inspiration to others facing challenges in their lives and a book has been written about her titled Molly the Pony A True Story by author Pam Kaster.   Kaster told that she also took the photos in the forwarded email.

The pit bull was not destroyed, by the way.  Harris gave the dog some grace because so many animals were traumatized by Hurricane Katrina.  She found a home for him among people who were good at rehabilitating dogs

Updated 5/14/10

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

This is such a nice story:

Meet Molly. She’s a gray speckled pony who was abandoned by her owners when Katrina hit southern Louisiana. She spent weeks on her own before finally being rescued and taken to a farm where abandoned animals were stockpiled. While there, she was attacked by a pit bull terrier, and almost died. Her gnawed right front leg became infected and her vet went to LSU for help. But LSU was overwhelmed, and this pony was a welfare case. You know how that goes.

But after surgeon Rustin Moore met Molly, he changed his mind. He saw how the pony was careful to lie down on different sides so she didn’t seem to get sores, and how she allowed people to handle her. She protected her injured leg. She constantly shifted her weight, and didn’t overload her good leg. She was a smart pony with a serious survival ethic.

Moore agreed to remove her leg below the knee and a temporary artificial limb was built. Molly walked out of the clinic and her story really begins there.

“This was the right horse and the right owner,” Moore insists.  Molly happened to be a one-in-a-million patient. She’s tough as nails, but sweet, and she was willing to cope with pain. She made it obvious she understood (that) she was in trouble. The other important factor, according to Moore is having a truly committed and compliant owner who is dedicated to providing the daily care required over the lifetime of the horse.

Molly’s story turns into a parable for life in post-Katrina Louisiana. The little pony gained weight, her mane felt a comb. A human prosthesis designer built her a leg.

The prosthetic has given Molly a whole new life, Allison Barca DVM, Molly’s regular vet, reports.  And she asks for it! She will put her little limb out, and come to you and let you know that she wants you to put it on. Sometimes she wants you to take it off too.” And sometimes, Molly gets away from Barca. “It can be pretty bad when you can’t catch a three-legged horse”, she laughs.

Most important of all, Molly has a job now. Kay, the rescue farm owner, started taking Molly to shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers. Anywhere she thought that people needed hope. Wherever Molly went, she showed people her pluck. She inspired people. And she had a good time doing it.

“It’s obvious to me that Molly had a bigger role to play in life”, Moore said. “She survived the hurricane, she survived a horrible injury, and now she is giving hope to others.”   “She’s not back to normal,” Barca concluded, “but she’s going to be better. To me, she could be a symbol for New Orleans itself.”

This is Molly’s most recent prosthesis. The bottom photo shows the ground surface that she stands on, which has a smiley face embossed in it. Wherever Molly goes, she leaves a smiley hoof print behind!