toronto wildlife centre

Toronto dog helps save poisoned fox's life through rare procedure

A rare blood transfusion led by the Toronto Wildlife Centre (TWC) on a poisoned red fox last month miraculously helped save its life. 

On March 27, local resident Andrea noticed the sick animal stumbling off the road and assumed that he had been hit by a car. 

After calling the TWC's hotline, a rescue team arrived and noticed that the fox's behaviour was odd, weak, and lethargic. The wildlife rescue organization also noted that the animal appeared to faint briefly after being captured. 

"I've been doing wildlife rescue for almost 11 years," said Assistant Rescue Team Manager Sarrah. "I've only seen a fox play dead once before."

After a brief exam, ultrasound, and blood work,⁠ veterinarians found that the results were not consistent with an animal who had been hit by a vehicle, although the fox was pale and bleeding from minor wounds. 

In the meantime, Dr. Cameron Berg at the TWC began emergency treatment to address the fox's symptoms and make him more comfortable. However, the next day, the animal was still lethargic, and his anemia had gotten even worse, despite a full ultrasound and x-rays showing nothing. 

The fox still had some mild bleeding from its mouth as well as a small wound, representing signs that it was suffering from rodenticide poisoning. 

According to the TWC, Dr. Berg had read a paper about a successful blood transfusion on a grey fox using blood from a dog. Taking a leap of faith, the rescue team transfused dog blood into the fox while meticulously monitoring his vital signs. 

By the end of the procedure, the fox seemed a bit brighter, and by the next day, he was much more aware and responsive. Weeks later, the TWC says the fox is still stable, eating well, and behaving like a normal fox.

"This fox was very lucky. Anticoagulant rodenticides (ARs) are chemicals that cause terrible, inhumane deaths in their target species, essentially causing the blood to stop clotting and the animal to bleed to death," the organization noted. 

"We are happy to share this lucky fox's story. And we strongly encourage people to refrain from using rodenticides for any reason."

Lead photo by

Toronto Wildlife Centre

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