On Thursday, June 12th, when SFACC shelter veterinarian Dr. Chris Anderson called asking for help with a splay-legged baby pigeon surrendered to them the day before, I almost burst into tears- not for Sugar, but for the impossibility of the situation. We are asked to help more birds than we have resources. We couldn’t help her- we already owed thousands of dollars in vet bills for Truffles, Speckles, Fluffball, Donut, Fella, Stella, Penny… And we couldn’t not help her. Because of her leg deformity, she was stranded flat on her tummy, unable to walk or even stand up. She would be euthanized as unadoptable.
Sometimes splay-legs, if treated early enough, can be corrected inexpensively with hobbles (and pain meds) to force and hold the legs in place until the muscles are able to take over, but not always. It depends on the positioning and structure of the bones. Sometimes surgery (always expensive) is required to break, rotate and reposition the bones. Without knowing what Sugar would need but knowing we couldn’t afford either, Medical Center for Birds generously agreed to try and help Sugar pro bono. I picked Sugar up from the shelter and one of our volunteers drove her the 60 miles (one way) to Oakley.
Sugar’s case was difficult. She appeared to need breaks in both legs which would prolong surgery and increase the risks. And her bones were too small for threaded pins which would complicate recovery and lessen the likelihood of a successful outcome. The vets studied the baby pigeon, conferred and debated the possibilities. On the morning that she was scheduled to have surgery, Dr. Kane tried, against logic, to see if Sugar could tolerate being hobbled and taped into standing position on a snowboard style fixator. And, if she could, what it might achieve.
To everyone’s surprise, they were able, despite her funky physiology, to get a potentially functional posture. She was monitored and rebandaged every day.
Once Sugar found her feet, she never looked back.
MickaCoo is a volunteer-powered, donation-supported project of Community Initiatives. If you can, please support our work with a tax deductible donation.
Thank you for helping MickaCoo to help Sugar and so many others.