Three-Legged Burro Inspires Loveland Artist to Create Bronzes, Donate Sales to Veterinary Teaching Hospital

Well-known artist Dawn Weimer of Loveland knows injured equines as well as she knows fine art. So, two years ago when the sculptor read the newspaper story of Primrose, the young burro whose hind leg was amputated and successfully replaced with a prosthesis, she was inspired to creativity-and philanthropy.

Weimer, who cast several bronze editions of Primrose, in various sizes, is donating 40 percent of total sales of the bronzes to benefit the Equine Mobile Clinic of Colorado State’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital. She also is donating a life-size edition of the burro, with prosthesis, to the hospital to be installed in spring 2001.

Now, the sculptor will get the chance to meet her real-life model at 11 a.m. on Dec. 13 when Weimer presents the first gift check from the sales of the bronzes to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, as Primrose visits for her regular checkup.

"Tom and I bred and trained registered quarter horses for years here in northern Colorado," Weimer said. "More than once we had to rely on the skills of the veterinarians at the Teaching Hospital."

"When we read the story of Primrose, we were so impressed with the work of Dr. Gayle Trotter and his surgical team and the generosity of the doctors and the hospital by putting so much effort into saving the little donkey, in finding an alternative to euthanasia."

In 1998, the five-month-old Primrose underwent surgery and weeks of medical care at Colorado State’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital for the removal of a badly infected hind leg, the result of an attack by dogs. Under the supervision of Dr. Gayle Trotter, professor of surgery at Colorado State University, who performed the amputation, Primrose was fitted with an artificial leg created by prosthetics technician Theresa Conrath. In cases such as this, euthanasia is usually recommended since, unlike dogs or cats, larger animals find it difficult or impossible to get around on three legs. Artificial limbs for larger animals can be problematic, in part because the animals require frequent care and are prone to chronic compression sores where the prosthesis attaches to the limb, due to the weight put on the limb. After two years, Primrose is living proof that a prosthetic limb can work on smaller equines.

"Without the collaborative efforts of the surgical team and the prosthetist, we would not have Primrose today," said Dr. Anthony Knight, head of the department of Clinical Sciences at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. "Without the vision and generosity of Dawn Weimer, we would not have the level of support for the Equine Mobile Veterinary Unit that has resulted from this sequence of events. The skill and generosity shown by all involved is greatly appreciated."

Colorado State University has the only state-of-the-art, full service, mobile equine veterinary diagnostic and therapeutic clinic in the United States. The size of an 18-wheeler, the clinic travels to regional equine events, stays for the length of the event and is staffed 24 hours a day, allowing sick or injured horses to be diagnosed on-site without the added pain, or possible further injury, of being moved to another location. The clinic is also available to veterinarians who need assistance in providing full diagnostic services on-site at equine events.

Weimer, who turned from raising and training quarter horses to a full-time career in art, said she hoped the experience with Primrose would mean more exploration into methods for saving the limbs of other injured equines.

Weimer’s work can be seen in several locations in northern Colorado. She cast the bronze ram on display across from Moby Arena on the Colorado State campus. She is also at work on a 9-foot. cougar for Loveland-Mountain View High School in Loveland, Colo., and a life-size work titled "Mother of the Plains" for the Fort Morgan Museum in Fort Morgan, Colo.

For more information about the mobile equine veterinary unit, contact Dr. Joe Stricklin at (970) 491-4580. For more information about the bronzes, contact Dawn Weimer at (970) 204-1900 or