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Red Fox Back on Her Feet, Thanks to Skilled Vet and Arthrex Products

In his many years as a veterinary orthopedic surgeon, Jason Eisele DVM, DACVS, CCRP (Fort Myers, Florida) has operated on his share of unusual and exotic animals – from a medial collateral ligament repair on a crane to a fracture on a skunk – but he recently experienced a first.

“I did my first procedure on a domesticated red fox named Gypsy,” Dr. Esiele said. “She was docile and sweet after being raised by humans her entire life.”

Florida residents with proper permits can legally own certain exotic animals that are purchased from USDA-licensed breeders. Gypsy belonged to a local family in Collier County for years until her companion fox died and her owners thought she would be happier in the company of other animals. That’s where the Shy Wolf Sanctuary in Naples came in.

Founded in 1993 by animal lover Nancy Smith, the private facility provides a permanent home for 40-60 exotic animals that were either bred in captivity or are unable to be adopted or released into the wild.

“Our mission is to heal hearts and minds through rescue, sanctuary and education and we were so happy to give Gypsy a permanent home,” said Caitie Grieser, Volunteer Coordinator and Animal Care Support at Shy Wolf.

It was the volunteers there who noticed that Gypsy had started limping. After taking her to the vet, she was diagnosed with a ruptured cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), which is equivalent to the human ACL.

“Her anatomy is quite similar to a dog’s and this is a very common injury in canines,” Dr. Eisele said. “Given that she is about 10 years old, we suspect the CCL rupture probably developed as the result of wear and tear over time, rather than as an acute injury.”

Dr. Eisele repaired Gypsy’s injury at Southwest Florida Emergency Veterinary Specialists using a 2.4 mm TPLO Locking Plate System that was donated by Arthrex.

“We were happy to donate the implant,” said Veterinary Sales Representative Doug Tollett. “We were grateful to find a surgeon and a hospital that really care, so this fox can return to a normal, happy life at the sanctuary.”

Dr. Eisele said the surgery went well and that Gypsy’s prognosis is excellent.

“She will need about two months for bone healing and the volunteers at Shy Wolf are doing a great job restricting her activity, just like we do with dogs immediately after this surgery,” Dr. Eisele said.

Caitie and other staff members at the sanctuary report that she is responding well following the surgery.

“Gypsy has healed up nicely,” Caitie said. “The other staff members and I have been using red light therapy on her leg and taking her for short walks and she is moving like she never had surgery.”

And if all continues to go well, Dr. Eisele expects that she will return to life as normal within weeks.

“This surgery really allows animals to remain active for their entire life and helps prevent osteoarthritis from developing,” he said. “It sounds like Gypsy had a great life before and I fully expect her to go back to being a happy fox living a great life.”