Caught in a fence and hanging from his back toe
this poor little bobcat must have thought he was doomed.
See the photos from the rescue today in our DropBox folder.
This morning a man who lives in the Enclave in Land O Lakes Florida got his morning cup of coffee and opened the blinds to his back yard to enjoy the natural view that he has since his cul-de-sac home backs up to a long corridor of power lines. A four foot high fence, made of a material often referred to as hog fencing, was overgrown with vines, but despite that the homeowner could see there was a cat tangled in the fence and hanging from one rear paw.
He called Animal Control and they dispatched someone to the scene who told the man that it was a bobcat and that they are non-indigenous to Florida and thus the cat would have to be shot. He was wrong. This was clearly a Florida bobcat. By this time the man's parents had joined him on the scene and when they heard that this gorgeous animal was going to be killed they called Big Cat Rescue.
10:59 am I answered a call and a man, who was obviously distraught, began relaying the story above to me. I asked to speak to the Animal Control officer and explained that we are licensed by the state of Florida precisely for emergencies like this and that if he could keep people away from the bobcat we were on our way.
The Animal Control officer had approached the ensnared bobcat with a catch pole, but said the cat thrashed viciously at him so we knew we would have to sedate the bobcat in order to disentangle him. I called Jamie Veronica and she immediately recruited her husband, Dr. Justin Boorstein to go with me to the rescue site. They had planned on taking a much needed day off after spending their weekend rescuing Reise the cougar. I called Chris Poole to video tape it and we were off.
It rained all the way there, but as soon as we pulled up the clouds parted and we hauled all of our gear to the rear yard and evaluated the situation. I tried to keep the neighbors back and quiet, which was hard because everyone wants to get their photos and chatter endlessly about something so exciting right in their back yard.
Dr Justin Boorstein was able to get within about 8 feet of the bobcat without the cat going into a rage, and used the blow pipe to sedate him, but 15 minutes later, the bobcat was still struggling to stay awake. So, Dr Justin gave him a second, lighter dose and we waiting another 15 minutes, but the cat was valiantly holding his head up and keeping an eye on our every move. He was tangled so badly in the fence that we felt he needed to be completely asleep because:
1. If we cut the fence off his foot and he escaped he could run out in traffic and we wouldn't know if his leg were broken or dislocated.
2. If we tried to untangle him we were going to be focused on not doing any more damage while he would be focused on killing us.
3. This was likely to be a painful process and we didn't want him to suffer.
As much as it scared us to do it, we deciding to hand inject a third and final dose to try and get him to sleep. This appeared to work and his cute little tail, which had been held in the traditional C curve of an alert bobcat, finally went limp and he shut his eyes. Jamie sneaked up to see if he was fully asleep and thought he was so we rushed into action.
Then he lifted his head again and warned us off. We couldn't risk any more drugs and he was sedated enough that despite growling and keeping his eyes focused on us, he wasn't thrashing. The Animal Control Officer tried to get the snare pole around his neck and chest to lift him over the fence, but the cat was not letting the loop pass his front legs and we didn't want to choke him.
Jamie cut the fence from around the paw, but the toe was so badly twisted in it, that we couldn't free him, so we figured the small piece of fence would just have to come with us to surgery. They let the net down over the fence to pick the cat up, but it was obvious that he was going to go all spread eagle all over the mouth of the net and not let us lift him.
I climbed the fence, landed in some briars, and then grabbed him by the scruff of the neck to keep him from turning and biting me. We got the bobcat mostly in the net, but that foot with fence wire was catching on everything even though Jamie had cut it as close as she dare. With one hand on his scruff I guided the back feet into the net and they lifted him over and put the net up to the squeeze cage.
Once in the squeeze cage, the door was to be dropped, but that tangled mess on his back foot was all caught in the net. It took a few minutes and the bobcat was surprisingly patient as Jamie freed his foot and Justin shut the door. We had done a map check while waiting for him to go to sleep and it was the same time and distance to take him to Dr. Wynn's clinic or Dr. Justin's clinic, so we took him to the latter, since we were already tying up one vet all day.
Once there Dr. Justin Boorstein was able to untwist the fence and free the toe. The X-rays showed that one of his middle toes was broken but despite three vets looking at the X-rays they couldn't find any other breaks or dislocations. We were all astounded since the cat had been hanging that way for hours, in the rain and had done a fair amount of twisting and turning to try and free himself.
After a battery of blood tests, which required shaving his fur in some cases, because he was as stubborn about yielding any blood as he was in going to sleep, his sedation drugs were reversed and he woke up very quickly... and mad. We drove him to the West Boensch Cat Hospital where Gale and crew had a nice fluffy straw bed ready for him.
3:56 PM He is in the Cat Hospital at Big Cat Rescue and should have a very quick recovery time and then will be released.
You can watch his progress in the Cat Hospital as well here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bigcathospital