Oh deer! Impaled buck is ‘lucky’ after a team-effort rescue in London

The deer's rescue became a joint effort by Salthaven Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, London Animal Care Centre, London Police, and Western University's vet services. Salthaven Wildlife Rehabilitation's Facebook

It may seem like a stroke of misfortune for a young deer who became impaled on a piece of fence in a north-west London backyard, but a wildlife rescue expert says the animal likely has a “new lease on life.”

Brian Salt, the founder of Salthaven Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, said he was called out to the incident early this week by a horrified homeowner.

“He got hung up on the fence, where the wrought iron spike pierced the inner part of his leg and he hung there from 5 o’clock in the morning until we were called.”

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The rescue became a team effort, including the London Animal Care Centre, Western University’s Vet Services, and the London Police.

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“It was a pretty horrific looking sight, and of course in the first sense you think ‘this animal has to be put down and put out of his pain and misery.'”

But upon closer inspection, Salt realized the deer was in fact — kind of lucky.

“The wrought iron spike missed his femoral artery, and also did minimal muscle damage, soft tissue damage, because it kind of went in between the muscle flaps.”

Had the spike hit the artery, Salt explained the animal would have bled out in a matter of minutes. And the bruising and abrasions weren’t “anything catastrophic that he couldn’t recover from, reasonably quickly.”

Because Salt’s operation is a wildlife rehabilitation centre, they don’t have access to the kind of controlled drug needed for anesthetics. That’s why Dr. Alex El-Warrack from Western University’s vet services was called in.

“He administered the knock-out punch, so to speak, and we were able to lift the deer down.”

READ MORE: 11 car vs. deer crashes in a single weekend prompt safety tips from Lambton OPP

From there, Salt’s team were able to clean the wound and administer a broad-spectrum antibiotic.

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“We left the wound open, we didn’t sew it up. This is again, another stroke of luck for this deer in a bad situation because there aren’t too many flies out this time of year. And had it been a fly season, he probably would have been put down.”

Stroke of luck number four: it’s hunting season, but deer that have been given drugs must be tagged by the Ministry of Natural Resources.

“That’s the fourth thing that he has going for him, that he won’t be shot by hunters because he has these tags in his ears to notify hunters that he’s not to be consumed.”

Although it’s possible the injury becomes infected, or it attracts coyotes, Salt has a good feeling that the buck will recover.

“A three-legged deer can outrun a coyote any day of the week,” he said.

Five minutes after administering a reversal for the anesthetic, the animal moved quietly into the bush and was putting weigh on the injured leg.

“At the end of it all, we saw him walk his way to freedom again. We had a feeling that we had done a good job, that day.”

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