WARNING: This article contains graphic images.
A puppy impaled on a two foot long tree branch has narrowly escaped death thanks to emergency surgery – but the pictures will make you wince.
Roxy the whippet was out for a walk with her owners in local bluebell woods near their home in Kent when the inch-and-a-quarter thick branch got wedged in her right thigh, ripping through her leg and out the other side.
The stick was just millimetres away from severing a major artery in the puppy’s leg, coming to a rest on her sciatic nerve.
Senior veterinary nurse Anna Moran was part of the emergency vet team that managed to remove the stick without damaging either her artery or nerve – in fact, so successfully Roxy was actually able to walk again the next morning.
“Roxy’s owners thought they were going to lose her,” says Moran, who said the surgery was one of the most dramatic nights of her 12-year career.
“In all my time working with animals I’ve never seen anything quite like this. It was a pretty extraordinary case, as the photos show.”
Roxy had been playfully darting in and out of trees in the woods when she landed on the branch that reared up and impaled her.
Despite being in great pain, the puppy somehow dragged herself back to the path and her owners, who carried her the half a mile to their car and drove as quickly as they could to the Vets Now emergency clinic in Tunbridge Wells.
There, Roxy was anaesthetised before the vet and nurse team cut the branch at both sides, and began the very fiddly task of prising out the rest of the wood and flushing any remaining pieces of bark from the entry and exit wounds.
If the branch had snapped the consequences could have been serious. “[It] had penetrated through the quadriceps, very narrowly missing a major artery and had come to rest right up against the sciatic nerve prior to exiting the caudal aspect of the thigh,” Moran explains.
Roxy was kept in overnight for observation – but to Moran’s surprise and her owners’ huge relief, the recovery was quicker than expected. The next morning, she was transferred to her regular vets before heading home to recuperate.
Within days, she was doing “zoomies” in the garden again – and was back asking for walks.
“We’re all so pleased that Roxy has made such a good recovery, she was a lovely little character who made a big impression on us all,” says Moran. “Her case shows that even in the bleakest of situations there’s always cause for hope if you act quickly.
“What an incredible escape she’s had! She’s a very lucky and very brave puppy.”