by Paula Morris
My daughter was on her way to work last Thursday afternoon when she spotted the neighbor’s cat with something “largish” in her teeth. She slammed on her brakes, took off after the cat, and caught her before she could run away with her prey.
The cat had captured a wild, baby bunny.
By the time my daughter extracted the rabbit from the teeth of the cat, the bunny’s lower back skin was torn off about the size of a quarter, down to the muscle. There was no bleeding, just torn-off skin and fur.
Now, some folks might have just left cat and bunny to their fates, while some, like my future son-in-law might have said: “I can put it down.” But being a kind-hearted person who had to rush off to work, my daughter enlisted my aid in the effort to attempt a rescue and attend to follow-up care.
“Mom, can you put the poor little thing in one of your shoe boxes and put some antibiotic ointment on its back?” she called out. “I’ll take care of the rest when I get home (at 3:00 A.M.) or tomorrow.”
My daughter is a paramedic for a private ambulance service, and also a ER medic at Allenmore Hospital, so she would have been perfectly capable of treating this little bunny herself. But being an R.N. for 35 years, I looked at the gaping area on the poor bunny’s back and felt that for this little critter to have any chance at all, it needed sutures ASAP.
First, I called my regular veterinary clinic and was told that they do not treat wild animals. The receptionist gave me another vet’s number who she thought did treat critters from the wild. After calling that vet, I was told that their other clinic treated wild animals and was given another number to call. After calling this third number, I was informed that they do treat rabbits, but not wild ones – only “pet” bunnies. For wildlife bunnies I was to call yet another number. This next clinic did indeed treat wildlife but they were all the way in Yelm, and I live in Graham.
Nonetheless, after a quick MapQuest inquiry, I went off with bunny in a box to the Yelm Veterinary Hospital across from the Yelm High School.
However, MapQuest took me on a zig-zag trip that landed me on a private road in a sub-division somewhere west of the Mountain Highway.
Fortunately, a man with two dogs was walking on the side of the road. I asked directions and was told: “Oh dear, you are way out of your way.”
He then gave me directions, and then said, “Do you want me to look at your pet? I can stitch it up inside the house.”
OMG! An instantaneous caution flag was raised. I realized I was in a wooded area on a deserted road with no one around and unfamiliar with what lay up ahead; I was totally vulnerable and for a brief second a wave of terror swept over me.
“Oh, no thanks,” I said, and drove off with a “thank you” for new directions…down an unpaved road, out of the sub-division, over ruts and deep gullies full of water, and thankfully finally onto State Route 702, heading west. I had gone at least ten minutes out of my way thanks to Map-Quest.
I did make a call to my editor, Bruce Smith, who lives in Eatonville, just to be sure I was heading in the right direction. He assured me I was. After all, I have never been on these roads nor seen any of this part of the county before in my life.
As I was contemplating this encounter, I began to empathize with the injured bunny. There it was hopping along, trying to just live its life and along came a predator pouncing on it.
How quickly the tide can turn.
I’ve read many stories of women victimized suddenly without warning. Perhaps that is why many women like to “rescue” vulnerable creatures.
Arriving at the clinic with no further problems, I put the little bunny in the hands of the receptionist at the desk and was assured that if the bunny was treatable it would be given care, fed and kept caged until it was strong enough to make it on its own and would then be released into the wild on some acreage near Fort Lewis.
If it was determined that the bunny could not survive, it would then be euthanized humanely. I was told further that no fee was charged for these services, but a voluntary donation would be acceptable.
I don’t know what the outcome will be for poor little bunny. Since I left my phone number on the form I had to fill out, I’m hoping I will get a call. If not, I will phone tomorrow and try to ascertain my little bunny’s fate.
Thankfully, the receptionist at the clinic was kind enough to search Google Maps and sent me home with much clearer and more accurate directions.
A couple of questions come to mind: Is it right for pet owners to allow their pets free roam of their neighborhood?
Many pets are hit by cars or caught in traps, or shot at or poisoned by malicious people. In turn, these pets themselves are problematic to wildlife in the area. It’s one thing if a cat catches a mouse – as most people are not too sympathetic toward a mouse. But then, so many song birds are killed by outdoor cats, along with squirrels, chipmunks, and bunnies. It seems almost criminal to allow a predatory animal like a cat, free rein in a residential neighborhood.
I have always owned cats. Or should I say…my cats have always allowed me to care for them. And I understand how wonderful it could be for a cat to be outside stalking prey through the tall grass, climbing trees, jumping up on roofs and fences…free as a bird – I mean cat. They’re indoor cats, but I do have ambivalent feelings about keeping them “trapped” inside.
Most of the land in Graham where I live is wild and wooded. It seems a perfect setting for a wild cat, but should a pet cat also be a wild cat?
Another question I have: Why is it that local veterinarians can’t treat wildlife? Why should I have to call four different vets and drive through three towns to find a “wildlife” vet?
I am, however, thankful for the Yelm Veterinary Hospital and hope our little wild bunny survives.
In the meantime, if you see a little blue Yaris driving around with a driver who looks a little lost, don’t worry; it’s just me spreading my wings.
Addendum: June 3, 2011
I called the Yelm Veterinary Hospital this morning and found out that the little bunny is doing well! They put in a few sutures last night, and this morning the bunny is eating and drinking. Within a few days the bunny should be released back into the wild.
© 2011 Paula Morris
Editor’s note: It is illegal for dogs to run free in residential neighborhoods in Pierce County.
I wonder how that guy who offered to help would feel if he read your article…