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Huntington Beach’s wildlife center treated influx of patients over Fourth of July weekend

A fox with its leg bandaged
This gray fox was found Sunday night in the grille of a car after being scared by Fourth of July fireworks.
(Debbie McGuire)

Much to the joy of revelers, fireworks light up the night sky every Fourth of July.

Animals are less enthusiastic.

About 120 animals came through the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach’s doors over the three-day weekend, said Debbie McGuire, executive director.

They included a frightened peregrine falcon that flew into a window in Newport Coast and a black-crowned night heron chick that, because of fireworks, fell from its nest in Sunset Beach.

A gray fox, believed to have been scared by fireworks in Portola Hills, was brought in by Orange County Animal Control on Sunday night.

“I was told that a gentleman was driving along the road out there and he saw the fox, and he thought he might have hit it,” McGuire said. “He slowed down and looked around and didn’t see anything on the road, so he continued home. When he got home, she was stuck in the grille of his vehicle and still alive.”

X-rays showed the fox had suffered leg fractures and other injuries.

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“We consulted our veterinarians, stabilized and splinted both legs, got her on pain medication, treated her for shock and started her on antibiotics,” McGuire said.

X-ray image
An X-ray of the injured gray fox.
(Debbie McGuire)

The fox, which weighs less than 5 pounds, is eating and is considered stable.

McGuire said a five-member team of doctors is planning surgery. The team will be headed by Drs. Elizabeth Wood of the center and Jennifer Dietz Kumar of Baker Bristol Pet Hospital in Costa Mesa.

Also on the case are Drs. George Katcherian of Back Bay Veterinary Hospital in Newport Beach, Paige Hashimoto of Beach Boulevard Pet Hospital of Huntington Beach and Elana Young of Banfield Pet Hospital in Santa Ana.

“It’s going to be months of recovery and rehabilitation — all because of fireworks,” McGuire said. “We’re hoping for the best. Hopefully she’ll be strong enough to make it through the surgery. She’s dealing with a lot of stress, not only her pain and shock of what she’s gone through, but she’s also in captivity.”

Domesticated animals also are affected.

Nearly 1 in 5 lost pets goes missing after being frightened by loud noises, including fireworks, according to a study by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, known as the ASPCA.

McGuire said she is trying to raise money for Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center to keep providing veterinary care to the injured animals.

Szabo writes for Times Community News.


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