A Central Arkansas rescue organization is using an unconventional treatment to get an injured owl back on her feet. "We take these animals that have human-caused injuries, and when there is a human-caused injury we feel the obligation to do something," explained Lynne Slater, the executive director of the HAWK Center. In January, a female barred owl was brought to the center after being hit by a car. Slater and other volunteers at the HAWK Center call her Enola, after the town where it happened.
"When she came in, I honestly thought she was dead in the box. She was comatose. She was knocked out cold," Slater said. "I noted that she could not move one leg, and yet she could move her wings and she could use the other leg." Slater said they decided to wait and see what happened. After a week, there was very little progress. "An owl that can't move a foot can't survive in the wild," Slater said. With progress at a stand-still, it seemed the only option left was euthanasia.
Until a veterinarian friend suggested acupuncture. "I said, 'Well it can't hurt!'" Slater said. "I contacted Dr. [Karen] Hooks in Little Rock and I said, 'I got this really weird situation, you want to give it a try?' And she said, 'Sure lets try it.'" Enola rests on her back during the treatments with no anesthesia, and stays perfectly still, as if she understands. "We went for our first treatment and about a week after our first treatment I saw the foot move a little bit," Slater recalled. "I said, 'Hey we have some response!' Is it because of the acupuncture? Who knows. Is it because it's just time? There is no way to prove it."
Enola has progressed from being unable to stand, to now being able to stand and perch on a branch. "She can actually move her foot some, and she's even self-feeding," Slater said. She wasn't even able to feed herself." Slater said it takes time for the nerves to regenerate or to be re-stimulated, but at this rate, they expect Enola to be releasable in just a few months. "Some people will be naysayers and say, 'That's just time of healing, that would have happened normally,'" Slater said. But then there's no way to test it. There's no way to prove it's one way or another. But it was worth a try."
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