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This submission shows how a caring person and a veterinarian willing to try different procedures on a skunk can lead to a better life for one of our striped friends:
Flower - Submitted by Maria Ellis -
While visiting my favorite pet store one day, I noticed a skunk in a cage in the window. Knowing it was much too early to be baby season, I inquired after her. I was told her name was Flower and that she had been boarded there. Every week when I stopped in to get pet supplies, I checked on her. As time went by, I noticed she looked worse and worse. It seems her owner was unable to care for her and his sister had boarded Flower. Later I found that the store was the second place she had been boarded and that she had not been treated well at the first place.
Her tail had what appeared to be a bleeding sore on it. The employees at the store were putting an antibiotic cream on it daily. Because of her declining condition, I began to ask about contacting the sister of the owner to see if it would be possible for me to take Flower as a foster skunk until her owner was able to care for her again. I also asked if I could bring her some health supplements for the tail which they agreed to.
On July 1, 2005, I received permission from the owner’s sister to take Flower as a foster skunk. I signed an agreement that she would be turned over to the owner upon request. They agreed to reimburse me for any vet bills she had. I took Flower straight to my vet to get the tail looked at. The diagnosis was a tumor on the end of her tail. This had been bleeding for the months she was at the store. I took Flower home after arranging for surgery to amputate the tail.
|Flower eating chicken hearts, the first meat she had in a long time.|
Immediately we noticed she could not walk very well. Mostly she would drag her back legs. X-rays showed severe hip dysplasia on both sides. Flower was as close to feral as I have seen. The months spent in the cage not interacting with people much plus the pain from the tumor and the dysplasia had taken a toll on her. She screamed for several days at the sight of us. She needed a lot of care as she was not able to move much when she needed to go the bathroom and frequently soiled herself.
On July 7, 2005, Flower had several inches of her tail amputated. The vet had to remove the damaged tissue surrounding the tumor too. She was implanted with a Ferretonin implant made from Melatonin because the vet felt she had physical signs of an adrenal condition. This implant has been used in over 30 million small animals but we could find no evidence that it had ever been used in a skunk before.
|Anesthetized for surgery. Her tail was shaved exposing the tumor at the tip and the dead tissue on her tail. Notice her hip area, there is no undercoat, you can see her pink skin through the guard hairs.|
|The tumor and dead tissue being amputated.|
|The amputated tail is finished off with a cropping tool. This gives a natural appearance when the fur grows back|
After her surgery, we took Flower home with the medication the vet gave us. She needed an antibiotic and pain pills. We were also given Synovi G3 soft chews which is a nutritional supplement combining Glucosamine, MSM, Creatine, Fatty Acids, Antioxidants, Vitamins and Minerals. Flower took her medicines and supplements with no problems, we included the usual supplements given to skunks also. She slowly started to get used to our home. She was fearful of the other skunks, so she was kept in her own room. She continued to fuss at us and we could not pet or hold her.
Two weeks went by quickly and Flower needed the stitches in her tail out. At this time, she was able to stand and move slowly around the room. We were still unable to touch her, and I was afraid she would need gas to have the stitches removed so not to further damage her weakened bones. When the vet came into the room to see Flower, I opened her travel cage. She walked out slowly and came over to face me and lay down. They removed her stitches quicky, examined her wound, then she walked back into the carrier. Flower had more than an inch of hair regrowth on her tail only two weeks after her surgery.
|Two weeks after surgery in the vet's office after getting her stitches removed. Note the substantial hair regrowth due to the Ferretonin implant.|
Flower has continued to show improvement. She is now able to walk with only a slight limp. She has regained the muscles she lost when she wasn’t mobile. As she began to feel better, she started to explore our house looking for secret places to hide. She also started approaching us and now enjoys being petted, held and brushed. After we had her for six weeks, she started to sleep with us with the help of a special handicap ramp built for her. Flower is a special girl who went through a very unpleasant time in her life. We are hoping she will continue to improve and the rest of her life is happy and pain free.
Photos by Maria Ellis
© 2006-2012 Skunk Haven™ Skunk Rescue, Shelter, and Education, Inc.
Revised 02/29/12 (SRS)
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