Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Francis...a year later.

It was a year ago on this day, July 4th 2011, that Francis, the beautiful female Great horned owl came into my life through no fault of her own. She was hungry and had made the unfortunate decision to visit this horrible old man in Blue Ridge who raises fighting cocks. The tall perch upon which she lighted to survey her supper opportunities was set with a rusted, steel trap.

The immediate shock and pain must have been tremendous for her and most birds tumble over the side of the pole trap and hang upside down until they die a miserable death. But our intrepid Francis was able to keep her wits about her, remaining upright and although breaking her beak off in the process, was able to physically dislodge the trap from the top of the 6 foot tall 4x4. Man, she must have been pissed! I cannot imagine in my wildest dreams what strength and tenacity that must have taken on her part. Somehow she knew her life depended on it.

She hopped on one foot, dragging this trap that weighed as much as she did, about 200 yards and was spotted in an alley next to a doctor's office. The workers at the office did the actual rescue (I can't do my job without the Good Samaritan's help) and the bird was taken to a vet's office in the next town that works with me taking in injured and orphaned raptors. 

They ran fluids on her and called me to come get her, but unfortunately by the time I got there, someone had thrown the trap away. NEVER throw away evidence! Never. Many traps come with their own serial numbers and can be traced back to whomever purchased them. OK, so there went our open and shut case against this old man who has a history of being arrested while attending a cock fight a few years back. This old man is so entrenched in this archane blood sport and is so well known that he has his own recliner set up ring side!

All things considered, she was in pretty good shape, except the area all the way around her distal tarsus (where the leg joins the foot) had a very deep, infected laceration. How the trap didn't break her leg was a miracle and had it, it would most likely have been a euthanasia because with a break close to the joint, the callous formation of the bone healing interferes with subsequent rotation and movement.

My wonderful vet was at the ready with the first of three surgeries to open the wound and debride the dead tissue. Honestly, I could not do my job if it weren't for his talents and generosity. His name is Dr. David Martinez. He has a mobile practice  and also is land based at Loving Hands Veterinary Hospital in Alpharetta.  The clinic is owned by Dr. Joanne Roesner and a big shout out to her for allowing wildlife to be brought here and treated! The staff is terrific too, and I ply them with home made cream cheese cupcakes every now and then!

It was touch and go for a while and I was having to give some thought to her quality of life because we couldn't get the infection under control. This is why we had to keep going in to scrape out the dead tissue...we had to keep switching antibiotics and I was irrigating her wound three times a day with this tremendous product sold my Liz's like jazzed up epsom salts, chocked full of 90 different minerals. If you are interested in purchasing some from Liz, contact her here -

It's unbeliveable stuff and so versatile. Mainly used to re-mineralize your garden soil, it has many other applications. In my case, I was grinding it up and mixing it with warm Lactated Ringers trying to keep the infection localized and this stuff, along with a killer antibiotic that cost me 160 dollars FINALLY did the trick, but only after working on her for three months. Man, what a job and if she had been your typical aggressive female GHO, there is NO way I would have been able to gain her trust and to cause her all the physical pain I was subjecting her to on a daily basis.

When it was looking the worst. The bruising was caused by me...yep, I had to keep the area teased open so I could insert the irrigation cannula to keep the pus drained out of the wound.

If I wasn't fast enough in doling out her lunch, she was take the self serve route. I would be feeding her mice with one hand while draining her leg with the other. Whew...what a team we were.

After a good misting. I didn't have a bath pan in with her because I didn't want her wound getting wet, so I would mist her every day.

 After a rain shower! What a beauty she was...I was privileged to care for her.

Her day of release had come sometime toward the end of October. It's the hardest thing to say goodbye. A year later, I don't know if she is dead or alive, faring well or struggling to survive. Frankly if I dwelled on this aspect of things, I would find another line of work. You do what you can with what you have to work with and just say a little prayer when you let them go. It's up to them after that...

One last look back before freedom...
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and for those of you who have donated Mouse Money. I really appreciate your help....m.

OH - PS...While some people rehab when they want to and cannot be bothered during holidays of drinking and merry making, there ARE no holidays for dedicated rehabbers. To me, it's just another day.

Oh - And one more thing...Did you know that in Georgia, it is LEGAL to set pole traps for raptors within 200 yards from your poultry? Ga. Code - 27.3.62. This law is diametrically opposed to the federal regulations prohibiting the killing or maining of a federally protected species. We set a trap for that mean old man, but we couldn't catch him in the act. We had all sorts of circumstantial evidence and people willing to testify against him, but the old coot got off scott free!

And say, you have legally pole trapped the raptor and there he is, just hanging there all bloody and helpless and you start to develop a conscience. Yep, you start feeling sorry for what you have just done to this magnificent animal who was just trying to earn a living, so you remove him from the trap, put him in a box and start driving him to a vet's office or rehabber. NOW you are breaking a Georgia state law against transportation of wildlife without an ambulatory permit. I am not kidding. Ga Code - 27.3.90


At July 13, 2012 at 11:19 AM , Anonymous Suzanne Muma said...

I raise poultry and waterfowl myself, mostly for pets, eggs, and show. I lost 5 ducks, 4 chickens and a guinea hen during a period of about 2-1/2 to 3 months, one at a time, always at night. I suspected owl, but wasn't sure until I found some tell-tale feathers (incidently they REEKED of skunk) which upon research led me to determine a GHO was the culprit. Rather than get angry at the owl for being an owl (my fault the buffet was open and available), I built a new flight pen for the ducks, and insure that the chicken barn is all buttoned up at night (doors AND windows!). Haven't lost a bird since. I guess things like this were too much work for him to protect animals that would be brutally murdered (notice I said "murdered" not humanely killed as in processed for food, which I do) soon enough. Nauseating, actually.

At August 8, 2013 at 12:50 AM , Blogger Nick said...

I was going through old emails and found the photo of Francis and my receipt. Just looked up the blog and saw that Francis made it. Thank you for all you do.


At August 8, 2013 at 7:26 AM , Blogger Monteen said...

Nick - These are my thoughts a year later. I have no idea if she is still alive. I sure hope so, tho...


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home