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Fox saved at Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee, Ont., released into wild

Click to play video: 'Fox saved at Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre released into wild'
Fox saved at Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre released into wild
A fox who was near death in January after being hit by a car was released back into the wild Saturday, thanks to Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre – Mar 16, 2024

Elation and joy are just two of the emotions that Melanie Mezzatesta’s felt Saturday morning in Amherstview as she watched a fox scurry off into the brush.

Two short months earlier, the same fox was near death on Bath Road in Loyalist Township. He likely would have died, if Mezzatesta hadn’t found him.

“You could tell that he just couldn’t get up. He would lift his head and then just kind of collapse again,” she said.

He had been hit by a car, and from what Mezzatesta could tell, was seriously hurt.

So, she sprung into action.

“I pulled my car around, started flagging vehicles to slow down and without even thinking just went and grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and stuck him on my passenger seat,” she said. “I called Sandy Pines and told them I was on my way in with an injured fox.”

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It was a reflex action for Mezzatesta, who volunteers with Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee.

Staff there discovered the fox’s jaw was broken in three places, an expensive injury to fix. But the community rallied around, and centre was able to do a special, non-invasive surgery to fix the fox’s jaw.

During recovery, Sandy Pines medical director Leah Birmingham says the fox was a handful.

“He was biting on things in the enclosure and therefore cracking the dental acrylic,” she said, referring to compound that was holding the fox’s jaw together.

Birmingham said the fox suffered extreme anxiety during his recovery and required medication to prevent him from hurting himself.

On Saturday, after roughly eight weeks in recovery, he finally got to go home.

Sandy Pines staff were able to corral the fox in his enclosure, and Mezzatesta drove him back to where they first met.

Both she and Dr. Andrew Winterborn, who operated on the fox’s jaw, felt relief finally seeing him go free.

“I’m just infinitely proud of everyone that’s been involved,” Mezzatesta said.

Winterborn said he was happy to see the fox back where it belonged. “It puts a huge smile on my face to see an animal that belongs in the wild being back in the wild.”

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