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Turtle whose front legs were amputated gets around with the aid of furniture sliders

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Make all the jokes you want about the ironically named Lucky, the box turtle whose front legs were amputated following what his owner believes was an attack by a rampaging raccoon. Lucky won’t hear you; he’s too busy skidding about on his furniture-slider ‘legs.’

Lucky’s owner, Sally Pyne, had created a veritable wonderland for Lucky and her other box turtle, Lovey, in the yard of the Petaluma home she shares with a roommate. For the summer months, Pyne gave the turtles an outdoor enclosure measuring 12 by 16 feet, complete with a pond and surrounded by a short fence. Unfortunately for Lucky, the fence was designed to keep the turtles in rather than to keep other, more athletic animals out-- and Pyne suspects that one of these, a raccoon she’d seen in the yard previously, was drawn by the cat food she’d left out for another pet. It came for the cat food and stayed for the dessert: box turtle.

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‘In most countries, when a raccoon bites a turtle’s front arms off in a vicious inter-species attack, that little hard-shelled fella would be all out of luck, assuming turtles understand the concept of fortune caused by accident or chance and/or Billy Zane,’ Best Week Ever’s Michelle Collins quipped of Lucky’s unfortunate run-in.

Pyne found Lucky seriously injured July 31. Lovey hadn’t been hurt in the attack, causing both Pyne and veterinary surgeon Dr. Robert Jereb to speculate that something -- perhaps a shell deformity or overly portly front legs -- prevented him from being able to withdraw his legs into his shell. Jereb performed surgery to remove what was left of the turtle’s legs, and Lucky was bandaged and given a slew of medications to prevent infection and ease his pain.

Pyne gave serious consideration to having the turtle euthanized. ‘I was ready to let little Lucky go home,’ she told Sonoma County’s Press-Democrat newspaper, ‘but Lucky, he was not ready to give up. His eyes were open, and he was shoving himself around on his two back legs. He was not going to quit.’ Jereb, who’d previously read about a tortoise whose similar problem was solved with the aid of a billiard ball cut in half and affixed to its shell, decided what Lucky needed was a prosthetic of some sort.

After some deliberation, he decided on using furniture sliders, doubled up in order to match the length of his amputated legs and stuck to the bottom of his shell. The solution seems to have worked, although the casters may need to be replaced periodically. We bet he won’t be locomoting on a grass surface any time soon, but Pyne says Lucky now ambles around the house like a champ.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: The Press Democrat via YouTube


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