The device snapped tightly on the poor animal’s leg, crushing and maiming his limb. The fox has no voice with which to cry for help, no hospital to go to, no hands to dial 911… All the fox cub who found himself in this torturous situation can do is put his fate in the hands of the local residents.
Of course, it’s safe to say that in some areas people don’t like foxes. After all, the animals eat chickens, go through garbage and can be seen as something of a pest. However, the people of Cudahy, Wisconsin, apparently have no problem with them and look forward to seeing fox families in the area every summer.
Naturally, then, the Cudahy residents were greatly concerned to see this young fox in some difficulty. This occurred on August 29, 2016, and the fox was struggling to walk with something potentially deadly attached to its foot.
Every year, the locals had enjoyed watching red fox cubs grow up, and they estimated this one to be around five months old, close to the time when the cubs venture out on their own. Of course, the sight of the suffering animal, especially one so young, caused these neighbors to become very emotional.
The feelings of the neighborhood were summed up by resident Barb Lierman, who was very distressed at the poor fox’s plight. “It was very horrifying to see,” she told Fox6 Now. “I was crying.” The people of Cudahy were united in wanting to help, though confused over what exactly was wrong with the cub.
Crystal Sharlow-Schaeffer from the Wisconsin Humane Society’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center said she received calls about the fox, but that the residents thought it was caught in a bear trap. “We had calls come in saying it looks like he has a bear claw trap or something like that,” she said in an interview.
Once the worried locals sent the Humane Society pictures, the staff were quickly able to confirm that the trap was in fact meant for rats. This insight also helped provide a clue as to why the fox may have gotten caught in the first place.
“These foxes, in our experience, are not dangerous to pets in the area. Their diet mainly consists of rats,” the Humane Society told Fox News. The fox, then, may have simply been looking to feast on a midnight snack.
Although they’re not illegal, rat traps can be very nasty and may even cause damage to domesticated animals or people if they’re improperly set. “There is a potential, if they’re set out and maybe your dog gets away, maybe your dog could get stuck in there – or a cat. They can do significant damage to your hands as well,” Sharlow-Schaeffer said.
Indeed, they’re designed so that an animal can’t remove them, and, with time, they only close tighter and inflict more damage. Chances are, then, that a rodent would be killed by the first snap, but a bigger animal like a fox is likely to suffer.
“It had a violent initial set off, which was very, very rough and then it’s constantly compressed,” Sharlow-Schaeffer told Fox News. “Our concern is going to be with broken bones, exposed bones and then the loss of blood supply to that tissue, which will eventually [succumb to] necrosis.”
Without inspecting the fox’s paw closer, there was no way to know how much damage the trap could have already caused to the young animal. Many people in Cudahy wanted to help, so they rented one of the Humane Society’s live-trap cages in hopes of safely catching the wounded cub.
Residents were thinking positive and looking toward a successful outcome. “It will be a relief. A big relief, and I will be very happy,” Leirman said. “I think there’s a lot of people that are very concerned about the fox that will be very happy to know it’s okay.”
On September 2, just 24 hours after the media reported the fox’s story, the injured cub indeed trapped himself in the rented cage. The neighborhood was overjoyed with their success. “We were just so happy, we hugged, we were relieved. It was ecstatic,” Leirman announced.
“We immediately anesthetized the fox and removed the terrible trap from his right front paw. The paw looked and smelled awful,” the Humane Society’s Facebook page reported. “Some of the toes were obviously broken. The paw was badly swollen… and there were maggots.”
The trap had also snapped off part of the poor fox’s toe completely. What’s more, there was a lot of swelling in the paw. The cub must have been in terrible pain and was certainly fortunate to have the people of the neighborhood, and the Humane Society, taking care of him.
It took two hours for veterinary staff to treat the fox’s wounds; they cleaned out the maggots and gave him medication to reduce the pain and swelling. They also gave him antibiotics to stop the infection in the wound.
“Once the paw was cleaned and dried a shield made out of a plastic water bottle was applied over the paw in the hope it would keep the fox from chewing on his own foot,” the Humane Society explained on Facebook. However, it could take weeks before they will know if the fox can fully recover from his injuries.
“He still has a long way to go, but we’re pleased with the way the wounded paw looks,” the Humane Society informed followers on September 6. “Furthermore, he is eating well, gaining weight, he takes his medicines (hidden in tasty treats) and he hasn’t messed with his bandages or the wounded paw.”
The people of Cudahy continued to help out the fox by holding a bakery event, with the proceeds going toward the poor cub’s medical expenses. “Fortunately, this fox has friends. Human friends. Lots of them,” the Humane Society wrote. “And thanks to his friends, his luck has begun changing for the better.”