When we think of veterinarians, we typically see them caring for house pets, such as cats and dogs. However, veterinarians gain experience in treating a variety of animals, including livestock, “pocket pets”—such as gerbils or hamsters—and even wildlife.
Dr. Alice Blue-McLendon, clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), explained the important role veterinarians play in animal emergencies by telling the story of Leva, an 8-week-old White-tailed fawn.
“We recently started caring for Leva at the CVM’s Winne Carter Wildlife Center,” Blue-McLendon said. “We call her our ‘miracle baby’ because she survived her mother’s fatal accident thanks to a husband and wife—a game warden and veterinarian respectively.
“The game warden, who was called to assist with the situation, found Leva’s mother with three fractured legs and severe head trauma,” Blue-McLendon continued. “Then he saw legs ascending from the birth canal and realized she was in labor. He knew the fawn was still alive because the legs were moving. With that kind of trauma, it was amazing that she survived.”
For the first six weeks of Leva’s life, she was bottle-fed and cared for by the game warden’s wife, a veterinarian who had recently graduated from Texas A&M’s CVM.
After struggling to find a rehabilitation center that would accept the fawn and help her regain her health so she could be released back into the wild, the couple contacted Blue-McLendon.
“Because of our educational permit, Leva can live here the rest of her life and will be taken care of,” Blue-McLendon said. “She’ll eventually join our herd of White-tailed deer and also interact with students who are interested in caring for wildlife.”
Though Leva was in dire need of veterinary care, Blue-McLendon reminded community members that wildlife, especially fawns, are best left alone unless they are in life-threatening danger or are injured.
“A lot of people find fawns by themselves and think they need to be rescued,” Blue-McLendon explained. “But it’s just the nature of fawns to stay hidden; most of the time, fawns are not abandoned and their mothers come back.”
The Winnie Carter Wildlife Center staff were happy to provide the kind, compassionate care that Leva needed to survive; no matter the species, a veterinarian, and in this case a game warden, can help save an animal’s life.
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org .