To Smokey, With Love: A Rescue Story
I’d like you all to meet “Evans Rabbit.” At the Veterinary Teaching Hospital where I work, all stray or wild animals are named by the last name of the person who found them, then their species. The animal will quickly be assigned a nickname by the care staff, but in this special lady’s case, she didn’t have enough time. For the sake of this post, I’ll call her Smokey, inspired by her lovely coloring and fluffy Angora coat.
I thought I would write a SaveABunny blog post to not only commemorate Smokey’s life, but also to draw attention to the abhorrent animal cruelty that led to her being placed into our care.
Smokey was brought in to the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital (WSU VTH) after hours by a Good Samaritan. A young girl had found her tied to a tree at an elementary school, and took her to a local pet store. The Good Samaritan, who also works at the pet store, brought Smokey to us after they realized that she was severely injured and heat-stressed. I was working at the receptionist’s desk that evening, and I was the one who took Smokey in. I opened the box the Good Samaritan handed me – inside was a black and grey Angora cross, her lovely coat matted and dirty, her eyes crusted, and breathing hard.
Smokey was taken back to the Exotics ward for medical treatment and monitoring. The next day we took radiographs of Smokey’s body to determine how badly she was injured. Smokey’s right leg was badly broken at the hock, and needed to be amputated. The toenails on two of her paws were worn down to the quick and bleeding. There was bruising all over back, and feces caked to her bottom and rear legs. Her her was so badly matted that we had to shave her down to the skin.
The amputation surgery couldn’t be completed until the following Monday, so the broken leg remained bandaged, and Smokey was on constant pain medication. She began eating hay and fresh vegetables on her own, along with the pumpkin/Critical Care mixture that she was syringe-fed. She also began defecating and urinating, a fantastic sign for anyone who has cared for an ill bunny. I often volunteer in the Exotics ward, and I took Smokey out of her cage daily to sit next to her on her fleece, cushioned dog bed on the floor. I groomed her, cleaned her eyes, and gave her the pets, massages, and love that she had most likely never received before. I was ecstatic when she would tooth purr, or shove her small black head under my hand to demand more rubs.
Smokey seemed to grow stronger daily; she continued eating, drinking, and going to the bathroom. We were counting down the days until her amputation surgery, which would have taken away her painful, hindering leg and given her more mobility. And I was personally counting down the days to when Smokey would be healthy enough that I could introduce her to my own rabbit, and hopefully bond the two. Since Hazel, my Netherland Dwarf, is such an affectionate bun who is always asking for and giving groomings, I thought that she could give Smokey some extra TLC and help her heal; they seemed to be a great fit.
I left Smokey last night after spending an hour with her on the floor, tucking her back into her hay-padded cage with fresh veggies in front of her and a kiss on the top of the head. I was shocked when, this morning, I received a text message from the veterinary technician in Exotics saying that Smokey had unexpectedly passed away during the night, and was found this morning in her cage by the volunteers. As I write this, I am still stunned, and deeply saddened. It eases my pain knowing that such a sweet little bun was rescued from an inhumane, torturous death, and was receiving the best treatment possible surrounded by those that truly cared for her. Although it hurts me that Smokey won’t be joining my family, it brings me joy knowing that I was there to give her the love and attention she deserved.
Rest peacefully, Smokey. You were loved.
Emily, Veterinary Student and Bunny Blogger