...at sundown I was out int he woods putting out food for the various young animals who have been released, and sitting right next to a food bowl was Ringo. I hadn't seen her for months. I was clear that something was wrong. She didn't seem to be using her rear legs that well.
I took off my coat and gathered her up, to many growls and snarls of protest, and carried her back to the exam room. Ringo had a rabies vaccination before I let her go, so although it is always important to be careful handling an animal from the wild, it was good to know that she was protected from rabies and that I was not at risk from any possible exposure. She was in such great raccoon winter shape, i.e., very chubby, that it was hard to palpate the bony details, but in an initial exam it was clear that she had several fractures to the rear legs and the joints were swollen. She also had some evidence of open wounds that had healed. I started her on pain killers and anti-inflammatory NSAID medication.
I also spent some time giving her grapes and toys and before long she was back to being her super sweet little self. No growling any more.
Within a few days swelling had started to go down and she started kind of using her right rear leg. Wild Things' AWESOME Rabies Vector Species vet, Brian Collins, was able to get Ringo in for Xrays a few days later, and this is what we found (I put together about 5 different Xrays to show the whole area, hope it isn't too confusing!):
To the right I've included a picture of a near perfect dog rear legs (though there is a displaced kneecap on the dog's left leg) for comparison.
One of the most amazing things is that the bones had been healing for what appears to be 4-6 weeks. So this little amazing girl was getting along in the woods for weeks with multiple rear leg fractures. What a superstar! I feel like such a wimp in comparison! Below is a close up of the distal part of the legs.
Her prognosis? Hard to tell. She is getting along better everyday. I will keep her on anti-inflammatories while the bone callouses continue to heal. I am also doing gentle physical therapy with her to keep whatever range of motion we can salvage in her damaged joints. Her busted knee is already unwilling to straighten, but we'll see what happens! She also has some broken teeth.
These kinds of injuries are consistent with being hit by a car.
Let's all send Ringo great healing vibes!! Also, while we're on the subject of raccoons, I wanted to offer a little food for thought...
...When people hear "raccoon" they immediately thing RABIES!!! However, it is estimated that 4% or less actually have rabies in the wild. Thousands of non-rabid raccoons are put down every year because people run so scared of rabies. Well, I just got a message today from a colleague who has been rehabilitating wildlife for about 30 years, many of those with as many as 40 raccoons a year, and this week was the first time she was exposed to rabies.... from one of her COWS!! She is getting all of her shots tomorrow.