MEDICINE HAT — Sure, there are lots of Good Samaritans out there who will help an animal in distress, but it was a particularly determined group of Medicine Hat residents this weekend who banded together to rescue a 1.5-metre-long bull snake.
“By God, I’ll save this snake’s life,” said Dr. Sartaj Wazir of Valley Pet Hospital as the wounded reptile was being prepared for surgery.
It all started Saturday morning when a couple out for a walk along the river came across the snake, which was obviously in distress and was bleeding from two wounds near its tail.
Troy and his wife, Shannon — who didn’t want their last names used — tried calling vets and fish and wildlife officials but weren’t having much luck.
“I’m not a rich man,” said Troy, sitting outside his home with the snake in his lap. “I think he should be fixed and put back into the wild. But who do you call?”
The couple ended up at the Police Point Park Interpretive Centre, where park interpreter Rick Belliveau examined the snake and said the wound was a bite probably inflicted by a dog.
Belliveau sprang into action with a flurry of calls and eventually tracked down Wazir, who left a summer party to attend to the snake.
Aided by Dr. G.P. Gabba, the two went to work.
“These animals have as much right to exist as we do,” said Wazir. “Snakes aren’t the enemy.”
After the initial examination, it was determined the snake’s penis was damaged and would have to be amputated.
“He won’t breed again,” said Wazir.
There were some tense moments during the operation when it appeared the snake might have died. But the doctors worked to resuscitate the reptile and he sprang back to life.
Though Wazir said the snake should recover, when it comes to man or beast, “if they lose the will to live, they won’t make it.”
Belliveau said the incident outlines the need for city residents to respect wildlife, adding that dogs owners should keep their pets leashed.
“We are encroaching on (the wildlife’s) territory,” he said.
After being warned by Wazir that naming a rescued animal Lucky usually ends up as more of a curse than a blessing, Troy and Shannon asked that the snake be known as Sunny.
Sunny will spend the next two weeks recovering at the Police Point Park Interpretive Centre, where he will enjoy all the frozen mice he can eat, courtesy of Valley Pet Hospital.’
(Medicine Hat News)