Being a non-profit, we typically do not pursue expensive and invasive procedures due to the price relative to the prognosis.
For instance, we receive many, many animals who have spinal trauma. Diagnosing the specifics of a spinal trauma would involve expensive imaging (myelogram, MRI or CT) and to treat could involve invasive, risky surgery (laminectomy, pins, etc). The total cost of this is easily >$6000; the prognosis for return to the wild in the case of an animal who needed surgery would be poor.
Does it make financial sense to spend $6,000 on one animal who likely won’t be released, when we could put that money toward rehabbing several hundred other animals who have better prognoses? And more importantly, does it make sense to put an animal with such a poor prognosis through a very painful and invasive procedure, when it will likely be euthanized?
These are questions we ask ourselves every day.
Luckily, some cases are a bit easier to manage, due in large part to specialists who volunteer their time.
Recently, we had a Red Fox kit with a broken leg (femur). This fracture would not heal with a splint or cast, and needed surgery to be fixed. I am not a trained orthopedic surgeon, so if I were to do the surgery, the prognosis wouldn’t be very good.
Luckily, two surgery residents from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine volunteered their time to come and do the surgery. The fox recovered beautifully from the surgery and will be ready to be released soon. In the photo at the top of this post, the surgeons have completed their work and are fitting a crossbar to help stabilize the leg while it heals.
Thanks so much to Dr. Duane Robinson and Dr. Jeff Biskup for their time and expertise, and to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center for their support!