[SPANGLE, Wash.] A miniature pony wanders around a farm. His legs keeping a slow cadence as he walks through hay. One hind leg is colored white and bright orange. It is a prosthetic – a manufactured limb – keeping the pony mobile. Whereas, losing a leg would typically be a death sentence to a horse, the prosthetic allows him to live a relatively normal life.
The pony’s prosthetic was crafted by Angela Boncz, the founder, CEO and lead fabricator of Specialized Pet Solutions. She offers custom prosthetics and orthotics – a device like a splint or knee brace – for animals. The company ships casting kits to people across the US as well. Boncz also helps guide veterinarians on where to make amputations, so a prosthetic can fit better.
Boncz has fitted supportive devices on a variety of animals, including donkeys, horses, cows, goats, pigs, sheep, a camel and a lemur. Her skills were honed at Spokane Falls Community College where she took classes in orthotics and prosthetics (O&P), graduating in 2002. While the classes educated her in devices for humans, Boncz turned that knowledge to working with animals.
“I always wanted to work in the animal industry, but I didn't want to commit to be a vet because there's so much schooling involved,” she said. “I wanted to get hands-on in there, so Spokane Falls Community College offered that.”
Boncz started building devices for animals when her puppy tore her cranial cruciate ligament (CCL, akin to the ACL in humans). Instead of paying $5,000 for surgery, Boncz built a knee brace for her dog.
“I knew I could make her something since I was in the human O&P field,” she said.
A few years later, an animal rescue asked Boncz to craft a prosthetic for the miniature pony. After that, Specialized Pet Solutions started taking shape.
“I knew that this is what I wanted to do to try to serve our local community,” she said. “Clients can come out to our shop, and we can cast and fit it all right here.”
Boncz benefits from her work just as much as the animals that she helps. She credits SFCC with starting her on that journey.
“It was a good trade school for me to get into, and, luckily, I was able to transition that into working with animals,” she said. “It is kind of a life dream.”
CCS provides education and services in a six-county region of Eastern Washington, operates Spokane Falls Community College and Spokane Community College and is the largest provider of Head Start and Early Childhood Education in the region. Each year, nearly 30,000 people – from infants to senior citizens – are provided educational services by CCS.