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Rudy's Recover



Okeechobee, Fla., June 14, 2008 -- A four-wheeler driver was happily tooling through an Okeechobee hammock when he felt a sickening bump under his wheels. He stopped to investigate. To his horror, he’d accidentally run over a week-old fawn hiding in the tall grass. He immediately called Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.

“This is one of those especially heart-breaking animal emergency calls,” says Sue Arnold, owner and curator of the center. “He asked if there was anything we could do to help the baby deer. I told him to bring it in”

The distraught driver arrived with the tiny fawn, now nicknamed Rudy. The fawn was in shock, its front legs were broken, and it suffered other injuries. “It was touch and go at first,” says Arnold. “After I examined and stabilized the fawn with emergency care, I took it to a local vet to set its legs and address its other more critical injuries.”

Now an estimated six weeks old, Rudy is still pretty much confined to the center’s animal hospital to keep his casts dry and himself from further injury while he recovers. “We let him out for a while each day when he can be supervised,” Arnold says. “We have to be careful he doesn’t aggravate his healing.”

Most fawns brought to the wildlife center are orphaned when their mothers are killed on the highway or other circumstance. The fawns are cared for until their spotted coat disappears. At that point, the center sends them to a white-tail deer preserve, where they don’t interact with humans. After a period at the preserve, they can be released back into their natural habitat to fully live their lives as nature intended.

Rudy, however, is going to require much longer-term care, a special diet, and – when his casts are finally removed – extensive physical therapy. “For one thing, he’ll need to learn how and be able to bend his front legs,” Arnold says. “He’s going to be here for a long time. We won’t release him until we know he’s able to survive well on his own.”

Several days ago, Rudy went back to the vet for a checkup. One of his legs is not yet healing. “He goes back again in two weeks,” Arnold says. “He may need to have his leg pinned. This is going to be a more extended long-term recovery than we originally anticipated.”

Arnold admits she doesn’t know a thing about four-wheeling, though she suggests those who enjoy the sport try to stick with designated paths or cut areas to avoid accidental injury to wildlife. “A lot of critters live in the hammocks and tall grasses,” she says. “Not just fawns, but also birds and their nests, rabbits, the endangered gopher tortoise and other native species.”

Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, located in Okeechobee, FL, is a 501 (C) (3) non-profit, educational-based wildlife care facility that operates solely on donations. The Center is dedicated to bringing people and wildlife together to develop community awareness of the value of Florida wildlife.

Its ultimate goal is to rescue, rehabilitate and return recovered animals to their natural habitat. Animals unable to return to the wild are provided a permanent home at the Center, which rehabilitates an average 700 animals a year.

If you will like to make a donation toward Rudy’s care or a general donation to the center, contact Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, 14895 NW 30th Terrace, Okeechobee, FL 34972, call 863.763.4630 or go to

Rudy the fawn will need long-term care before he can be released back into his natural habitat. “We will do whatever it takes to get him there,” says Sue Arnold, owner and curator of Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Okeechobee, Fla.


Karey McCann-Goode, MC2 Publishing LLC, 863.467.7866

Sue Arnold, Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, 863.763.4630



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This page was last edited Monday April 21, 2014

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