Sometimes being a Reptile Rescuer or any other type of Animal Rescuer can become more than trying. We often wonder why we started doing rescue in the first place. No matter what you do the animals keep coming. Especially if you work like I do with Exotic species. These animals require specific care that is different for not only each species but for each sup-type within the species. You almost become like a Veterinarian in a way because you see so many sick and injured animals that sometimes things become old hat, and it is depressing when you just don't have enough time to save an animal that comes to you in bad condition. Try as you may, you can not detatch from your feelings and you get angry at the owner, although you never show it, for not taking their poor creature to a Veterinarian or turned them into rescue, long before they ever got so bad...
This story is about one such case. These are the cases that keep us going, so read on about Gilbert an Eastern Box Turtle that cane into rescue one day.
It was mid morning when, I received the call. A call not unlike any of the numerous calls I receive, about a reptile that an owner wanted to "donate" to the rescue. The person on the other end of the phone explained that they had a turtle of some type, that was given to them by a friend and that ever since she had gotten it, it had been doing poorly and she did not want to take it to a Veterinarian because it was a free turtle and they were not that attached. We made arrangements for her to bring the turtle later on that day.
I placed a call to my Veterinarian and scheduled a preliminary appointment for the following afternoon, in case she really brought the turtle. (sorry, sometimes I get calls and set appointments only to have no shows so I no longer hold my breath)
She did bring the turtle that afternoon. He was in a shoebox so we went into the garage (my office) and I took a quick peek and actually thought the poor turtle was dead, but I did not want to alarm the owner so I did not mention it to her. So she filled out the rescues statement of surrender and left.
Once she was gone, I went to determine if this poor turtle was actually dead or simply totering on the edge. I was shocked to find he was still alive but barely. He was limp and unresponsive and severely dehydrated. He would respond to what is called a "deep pain" stimulus (where you basically give a hard pinch) by giving a slight bob of his head, otherwise he was a limp noodle. His head and legs hung out of his shell limp and lifeless appearing. I had no hope that he would even survive the next hour so I called and chancelled the appointment with the Veterinarian.
I gave him some fluids by injecting a sterile needle under his skin and forcing some fluid into his body in several places, using extreme care not to place too much in any one area, placed him into a warm cage and wished him good luck.
You can imagine my shock and thrill when I returned an hour later to check on him and he had MOVED! I have never been so elated in my life as I was when I found him on the other end of his enclosure looking at me! He was still not 100% that took some time but he was Alive!!! I couldnt believe it...
Over the next week I saw dramatic improvement in him almost hourly. By the second day he had his head up and out of the shell and noticed when I opened the cage. By the first week he was eating again and actually had enough strength to lift his shell when he walked instead of scooting along on his belly. By the second week you would not even know that there had been anyting wrong with him!
All this from a turtle I thought was dead when he was surrendered! He had such a determination to live that he was not going to give up even though he was sitting on the verge of passing over the Rainbow Bridge! Not only did he survive, but he thrived!
It was a very proud day when this poor turtle that was on the brink of death when he arrived, went to his new home with a family that loved him and would provide the proper care he needed!
Oh by the way, after his recovery we changed his name to Chance. He got his second Chance and ran with it.. Sometimes, there really are Miracles in this life, and Chance was one of them.
Ask me why I do rescue, and Chance is the answer. Over the years there have been many animals that have answered that question.
We do not do rescue for the money, it comes from our pockets more than donations and adoption fees. For Chance I ended up spending about $100 in Veterinary expenses not to mention all the time involved in his care. The owner gave no money to help pay for his care, and his adoption fee was only $25!
If you want to make a small fortune in rescue, I tell people that you need to start with a big fortune, because it Ain't Happening! Even with federal nonprofit status the donations are few and far between.
Rescue is an expensive proposition in the first place, any rescuer will tell you that. For reptiles it is even more expensive because of their care requirements.
If this article has inspired you to make a donation to any rescue, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If this article has inspired you to make a donation to my rescue you can find our website at http://www.reptilerescueca.org
Ramblings of a reptile rescuer
Phoenix an Iguana out of the ashes
How should you feed your pet Iguana?