Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Animal in Trouble

Last night was my night to drive for WRR – Wildlife Rescue and Rehab. One evening a week I go to the Humane Society, which has set aside a room for volunteers to help save wild animals brought in by citizens. Sometimes they need to go to a rehabber who lives a long way out of town. Last night there were seven baby mallard ducklings waiting for me to take them on a short, easy trip to the rehabber who will raise them to be released. But when I got there, someone had just brought in a baby bunny, about a third grown, that had spent the night before and all day stuck to one of those sticky strips meant to catch mice and rats. He had struggled mightily, he was goo from one end to the other. But he was breathing, and his black eyes were bright. So I stayed to help. We used Goo Gone, then mineral oil, then a mild detergent used for washing animals, and then fresh water, rubbing and wiping between dunking him in each. He was exhausted to begin with and by the end of all this barely breathing – and still sticky in places. The big problem was he couldn’t stand. One of his front legs seemed entirely useless and the other only sometimes worked. His hind legs were pushing hard, but he couldn’t even sit up on them. This is generally a sign of some serious problem. So what to do? He's only a bunny, there are thousands of them around. But Laura, the volunteer who works Tuesdays, adores bunnies, and she was reluctant to put him to sleep. Maybe it was just exhaustion and muscle strain. But that one front leg barely moved – though nothing seemed broken or dislocated. Bunnies die easily, it was remarkable that after all he’d been through left him not just alive, but struggling as best he could. But if he was seriously injured, if his scapula was broken, he was going to have to be euthanized. Was it kind to let him spend the night in a strange place, in pain, only to be killed the next morning? She asked me what I thought. That was a scary question, literally a life or death question. I’d rubbed him with a tiny towel, held him while she injected him with warm water – he was very dehydrated – and had felt his tiny heart beating, watched his rapid breathing. He’d pushed his head into my palm and closed his eyes. What did that mean? Was he just trying to get away? Or was the warmth of my hand a comfort? I said, “If you had ten bunnies like this, how many would survive?” She said that wasn’t a fair question, she had rarely seen a bunny like this still alive; they usually die of shock during treatment. (That’s why you must not pick up a baby bunny from its shallow nest; it’s not that the mother will abandon it, it’s that the shock of being handled may kill it. Put a twig across the nest and check back in a few hours. If the twig is moved or gone, you know the mother is around.)

In the end we put Braveheart in a nest of towels in a very small cage with a few fresh green leaves of spinach. The cage will rest overnight on a heating pad set on low. I’ll call later today to see if he made it.

The fox I’m stitching is even closer to being finished, I just need to work in more shading down his back and highlight his limbs.

The office is coming along, I can see big swatches of carpet! My pendulum wall clock is ticking and marking the hours! I still have some art to hang on the walls, and I wish I had a mind for organization so I could get more things put in their place – and I wish I had more places. I need another bookcase.

Thai Die has slowed dramatically, but that was to be expected. I’m disappointed, but now that we’re finally truly moved in, I can concentrate on pushing forward.

By the way, please don't use those sticky strips, it's a miserable death even for the nastiest rat.


Joanna Campbell Slan said...


Please keep us informed about the bunny. I once saw a mouse die of shock when the woman I was visiting caught it in a jar.

How fragile and yet persistent life can be.


Monica Ferris said...

The rabbit had to be put down this morning. The volunteer told me it had some injury that left it totally paralyzed in its left front quarter and partially paralyzed in the left hind quarter. Sad.

Linda O. Johnston said...

I'm so sorry to hear about the results, Monica. But your efforts were wonderful.

Kathryn Lilley said...

This one was a heartbreaker! You did your best, a valiant effort by all. I once rescued a hummingbird that couldn't fly, and was delighted to discover that there is a hummingbird "rescue lady" in our area. She met me in the middle of a Sunday afternoon to pick up the bird, and had a special hummingbird cage in her car. I was so grateful, because I had no idea how to help it, and regular vets didn't seem to know how to treat hummingbirds, either!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Oh, Monica. That's so sad.


Patty said...

Hi Ladies, I just found this blog thanks to a link from Google news and the keyword "cross stitch." I'm really enjoying it and I know I'll be back. I just wanted to say to Monica that I wish there was a happier ending for the bunny but I'm glad the bunny was given a chance. I'm off to check all your websites.