Dogs, cats, hamsters, gerbils, parakeets - if it's a pet with a price tag then veterinarian Agustin Cuesta has probably cared for it.
But Saturday brought two firsts for Dr. Cuesta and his staff at the clinic inside the Rossford PetSmart: their first deer patient and unaccompanied walk-in.
The episode began at about
1:20 p.m., when a PetSmart manager discovered a deer with a wounded hind leg between two trash bins outside the pet store at 27161 Crossroads Pkwy.
The animal, found in a pool of bloody snow, proceeded to jump and run into the just-opened door leading into the building's stockroom. Once inside, the female deer lay down on the floor as blood dripped from her left hind leg, recalled store Manager Trudi Urie.
Staff moved quickly to seal the entrance to the shopping area. "The last thing we wanted was a bloody deer running through," she said.
Ms. Urie figured that the appropriate thing would be to call an animal control officer. But with none nearby, employees called Rossford police.
They also beckoned Dr. Cuesta, who works in the veterinary clinic inside PetSmart. Yesterday Dr. Cuesta recounted how after examining the doe and finding it in good health aside from the leg, he told officers he could treat it right there on the stockroom floor so it could return to the wild.
The leg needed serious work. Dr. Cuesta said it had two or three deep cuts and that bone was showing through the fur. He said he could not determine what caused the injury.
Observers said that despite the injury and unfamiliar surroundings, the deer maintained a surprising degree of calm.
Clinic assistants held down the animal and placed a white towel over its head so it wouldn't get spooked.
Dr. Cuesta placed a numbing agent on the wounds and began administering an electrolyte fluid under the deer's skin.
The veterinarian closed the wounds with dissolvable stitches.
Before finishing their work the team gave pain medicine and an antibiotic to prevent infection.
Finally everyone stepped away and began to motion the deer out the door.
"We took off the towel from her eyes and slowly she got to her feet," Dr. Cuesta said. "She stood frozen for a few seconds, but after that she ran out of the store."
There's no answer yet for what may have first attracted the deer to the PetSmart building. While it's said that animals can smell fear, what is less known is whether they can sniff out good will and free medical care.
"Of all the places to run into, a pet store that has vets in it," marveled Ms. Urie, adding with a laugh: "If it would have went into a Bass Pro, it would have been a different story."
Though stitched up and medicated, the deer wasn't back in the woods quite yet. Dr. Cuesta recalled how there was no small amount of distress among his staff when the doe ignored an open field and instead darted across an intersection.
The deer stopped for a moment in the parking lot of a Wendy's restaurant. It wandered for a few seconds, then dashed into a field and out of view.
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