Original article posted June 20, 2016 on 13abc.com - By Lissa Guyton
Whitehouse (13abc Action News) - A coyote that's part of the educational programs at Nature's Nursery is recovering after one of her legs had to be amputated. Her name is Rue. She was attacked in her enclosure last week.
She was brought to the wildlife rehabilitation center several years ago, after someone took her out of her den as a pup and tried to raise her as a pet. She has since been an ambassador for her often misunderstood species.
Laura Zitzelberger has cared for Rue since she first arrived as a young coyote, "For those of us who work directly with her this has been a big hit for us. We're very concerned about her."
After discovering the serious injuries, the staff had to make a decision. Steve Kiessling is the Executive Director,"The decision to keep Rue alive and not euthanize her and to amputate her leg was not taken lightly. Her prognosis is good. With canines, whether they are dogs or coyotes, living with three legs usually has a good outcome. They still have a good quality of life, which is the most important thing for us."
Zitzelberger says Rue has been a good patient,"She's allowed us to do whatever we need to with her." Her medicine is delivered to her in mice."She's getting pain meds four times a day. In addition to her daytime care one of us is here at six in the morning and back at midnight. She's also getting a number of other medicines including anti-biotics and anti-inflammatories."
So how did this happen? Kiessling says they have seen evidence of wild coyotes near the enclosure, "She has been out here for three years without any incidents."
Staff members believe Rue may have been curious about wild coyotes near her enclosure. Since she's spent most of her life with humans, she doesn't speak the language of her wild counterparts.
They believe because of that she doesn't recognize warning signs from the others, like aggression. Zitzelberger says putting a paw up to or through the fence, allowed one or more coyotes to get to Rue,"All it takes is for them to get a muzzle in the fence to grab a leg or another body part and that's what we think happened. They were able to pull her very close to the fence to be able to do the damage they did."
For now Zitzelberger says Rue is being kept in a walk-in space at Nature's Nursery so she can be closely monitored. It's the same place she lived when she first arrived, "Our ultimate plan is to have her back out in the enclosure we'll have a second fence put in to act as a double barrier and we'll make some modifications inside to make it easier for her."
Rue's surgery along with her follow-up vet care and the changes to her enclosure will be costly. Zitzelberger and Kiessling both say that they will find a way to raise that extra money. Nature's Nursery takes donations of time, money and supplies, "Our supporters have always come through for us. They always step up in our time of need and they often do it before we even ask."