Lennie Green wraps his burly arms around 2-month-old Angel, lifts her out of a homemade sling and carefully lowers her into a large tub of cold water.

“Easy, baby,” Lennie, 65, says to Angel. “That’s it, move those legs. Keep those legs going.”

Angel, an 80-pound miniature horse with a coat the color of honey, thrashes around in the metal tub, soaking him. Lennie barely notices. As long as she’s kicking, he’s happy.

“We’re trying to get her to build her strength back up,” he says.

A few minutes later he carries Angel out of her stall and gently lays her down on a blanket in the front yard so that the stump of the leg she lost six weeks ago is comfortably cushioned. It’s nap time.

On June 10, two days after she was born, Angel’s 350-pound mother stepped on the foal’s right front foot.

Lennie Green of Double E Equine Rescue nuzzles 8-week old Angel, a miniature horse whose right front leg was amputated and replaced by a prosthesis.

Lennie Green of Double E Equine Rescue nuzzles 8-week old Angel, a miniature horse whose right front leg was amputated and replaced by a prosthesis. Photo courtesy of Dennis Doyle, WCSH6

Lennie and his wife, Brenda, who own and run Double B Equine Rescue in the western Maine town of Industry, bandaged Angel’s foot and called their vet.

“Doc come down the next day,” Lennie says, “and I took (the bandage) off and you could actually see fluid coming out from between the joints. It had decayed overnight and it started to spread up her leg.”

The Greens had little time to make a tough decision: put Angel down or amputate her leg.

“We were bound and determined to save her,” says Brenda. “But not if she was just going to lay around and not be able to stand or walk. That’s no life for a horse.”

“We did some research on the Internet,” Lennie says, “and found a three-legged moose. We found a three-legged pig and a three-legged mini (horse) in Texas named Molly. I said, ‘By God, we can do it.'”

Brenda and Lennie Green, owners of Double B Equine Rescue in Industry, feed 8-week-old Angel on July 22.

Brenda and Lennie Green, owners of Double B Equine Rescue in Industry, feed 8-week-old Angel on July 22. Photo courtesy of Dennis Doyle, WCSH6

On June 22, Dr. Robert Patterson, a large-animal veterinarian in nearby Farmington, severed Angel’s front leg above the knee. The amputation was a first for Patterson, who’s been a vet for 62 years.

“I’ve done amputations on many, many dogs, but never done it on a horse before,” Patterson says. “It’s been a learning process for all of us.”

The surgery saved Angel’s life – but she still faces some big challenges.

Since she was just a newborn when she lost her leg, the muscles and tendons in her other legs are weak and underdeveloped.

The Greens have been doing all they can to build up her strength, but it quickly became apparent that they needed some help. That’s when a friend decided to make a few phone calls.

“The first call she made was to Maine Orthotic (and Prosthetic Rehab Services),” says Brenda. “They said, ‘We want to see her.'”

The Greens loaded Angel into the back of their van and drove to Portland.

Prosthetist Bob Gallagher remembers the first time he saw the short stub that was all that was left of Angel’s leg.

“When I first looked at it my heart went up into my throat,” says Gallagher. “I thought, ‘Oh, my God, can I do this?’ But I had to try.”

His efforts – and those of orthotist Gail Fitzmaurice – paid off. They designed a brace and temporary prosthesis that will allow Angel to stand and begin to bear weight and build muscle.

Gallagher says when he was making the cast for the prosthesis socket, Angel fell asleep on the examining table, her head draped over his arm.

“She’s the sweetest animal in the world,” he says. “I think she really knows that we’re trying to help her.”

Gallagher and Fitzmaurice are now working on a permanent prosthetic limb that will hopefully enable her to walk.

“We’ll have to see how the progression is with the other three legs,” says Fitzmaurice. “And then we’ll figure out what we’ll have to design next.”

All of this work is being done at no cost to the Greens.

“It’s unbelievable that people are doing this,” says Brenda, close to tears.

Her leg broken by her clumsy mom, 8-week-old Angel is fitted for an artificial limb at Maine Orthotic & Prosthetic Rehab Services.

Her leg broken by her clumsy mom, 8-week-old Angel is fitted for an artificial limb at Maine Orthotic & Prosthetic Rehab Services. Photo courtesy of Maine Orthotics and Prosthetic Rehab

For nine years, the Greens have taken in abused and neglected horses and nursed them back to health. They currently have 30 in their care, including Angel and her parents. Donations keep the barn doors open.

“This summer’s been really tough – no hay donated or anything,” Lennie says. “We both have Social Security and we just take the money from (that) and buy the hay or the grain if we need to.”

Saving Angel means an added expense, both in time and money, and they’ve heard some negative comments from people questioning whether they made the right decision.

But Lennie has a ready response.

“My grandfather was born without an arm and he built houses. They didn’t decide to put him down when he was born,” Lennie says, his eyes squinting in the summer sun.

“Everything deserves a chance in life.”