If you're a family veterinarian who treats pets, you may get many chances to reunite with dogs and cats whose lives you saved. When you're asked to save injured wildlife, however, you may never know how things end up after your patient checks out.
On the other hand, if you spend much time in the wild yourself, maybe you will. That's what happened to one observant vet in southeast Ohio, who recently stumbled across a former patient she had treated years earlier.
The vet, Dr. Shannon Moore of Hocking Hills Animal Clinic, was walking in the woods when she noticed a box turtle whose shell looked strange — and strangely familiar.
"Several years ago, a client brought me a box turtle that had been hit by a car. I used fiberglass to repair his broken shell and then released him in my woods," she posted via the clinic's Facebook account. "Recently, while walking on my hillside, I spotted an odd pattern in the leaves. To my amazement, there was my old patient with the fiberglass still on ... years later! Sometimes, being a vet is the best thing there is."
That sentiment is apparently shared by many non-veterinarians, too, given how much attention the post has already garnered on Facebook:
Cars are a major threat to box turtles across North America, and even those fortunate enough to survive being run over may be left with a dangerously damaged shell. According to the University of Illinois Wildlife Medical Clinic, there are a few ways to repair shell fractures in box turtles. One common approach involves drilling small screws into the shell on either side of the fracture, then wrapping wires around the screws and tightening the fracture closed. Another tactic relies on epoxy to seal the fracture, like the fiberglass coating seen in the images above.
Either way, a procedure like this should be left to vets or others with expertise. For one thing, a turtle hit by a car may need medical treatment beyond its broken shell, possibly for things like shock, inflammation, infection or poor nutrition.
"The stress of handling and captivity, not to mention the trauma of being hit by a car, can cause our patients to lose their appetites," the University of Illinois Wildlife Medical Clinic notes. "Additionally, inflammation and infection can also cause patients to lose their appetite. Of course, nutrition is vital to the healing process, so getting our little guy fed is of the utmost importance."
Plus, as Bored Panda points out, epoxy may not be the best solution for some younger turtles: "In this case, it seems that the turtle was fully grown, so it was OK to leave it with the fiberglass. But if the turtle is still growing, it's best to change its cast and apply a new one from time to time."
The vet who saved this turtle clearly feels gratified to see her patient again, although she does admit to wishing she'd done at least one thing differently: