On the road, we often drive past small animals - both dead or alive - without giving them much thought. Especially when it comes to roadkill, we are much more inclined to look away and focus on the road ahead. When Judy Obregon was driving to her mother-in-law's house on February 20, she came across a small creature in the middle of the road. Initially, she thought that the animal was dead, but then it lifted its head and looked right at her.
Judy is no stranger to animal rescues. She is the founder of The Abandoned Ones "Saving Animals in Danger" - an animal rescue located in Fort Worth, Texas. "I rescue animals who are abused, chained, and neglected on the streets, in addition to helping shelter animals," she wrote on her Facebook page. "Their only hope is our compassion."
It was clear that the critter needed help, so Judy stopped and got out of her car. "I knew I could not walk away," she recalled. Upon closer inspection, Judy saw that there was a trail of blood from the animal that led to a driveway. A bloody stick was also in close vicinity. It appears that the opossum had not been struck by a car like Judy had first assumed. Most surprisingly, the animal was pregnant.
The injured opossum was so weak that she could barely lift her head. Judy gently and gradually moved her to the side of the road, then sprinted to her car to grab a T-shirt to envelop her.
She immediately got on the phone with DFW Wildlife Coalition to find out who could assist her with the injured animal. Thankfully, Judy was directed to a local wildlife rehabilitator named Tabatha who lived only a few minutes away. While waiting, she got a box from her mother-in-law's house - which was a block from where the opossum lay - as her husband watched over the helpless animal.
"I put the box down to see if the opossum would crawl into it," she said. "I put it in front of her and used my hands to guide her into the box." Thankfully, the creature seemed to want to go inside the box as well and was able to slowly crawl inside. With the opossum safely in the box, Judy made her way back to her mother-in-law's house to wait for Tabatha.
Ten minutes later, she arrived. "It was so emotional," Judy said of the encounter. "I do rescue work all the time, but to see another rescuer do what I do was so heartwarming." Tabatha began by confirming that the opossum was indeed female and pregnant. Baby marsupials, or joeys, are extremely vulnerable when born - blind, bald, and defenseless. Given that the mother - who Judy named Angel - suffered severe injuries, it was a good thing that Judy had found and rescued her in time.
What's more, it seemed like Judy's earlier hunch may have been correct. "I could tell she was not hit by a car from the blood evidence and what she looked like," Tabatha said. "I could tell she was struck by something."
While there were no broken bones or severe bleeding, Angel had definitely been battered. "I could tell on evaluation of her that she was struck, and I'm pretty sure she was shot with a BB gun," Tabatha added. Four of Angel's teeth and the roof of her mouth were damaged by BB ammo. They couldn't find any exit wounds, so it is likely that she had swallowed the BB.
After consulting a wildlife veterinarian on the phone, Tabatha gave Angel some pain medication and replenished her with fluids. Then, she cleaned Angel's wounds and gave her some food, which consisted of vegetables, fruit, and chicken. Despite the injuries to her mouth, the opossum was able to eat and drink on her own.
Opossums don't have the best reputation around, but they are much less hostile and vicious than most people think. In fact, Angel shows just how gentle and kind these animals can be. "Right now she is scared and you can tell she is hurting," Tabatha commented. "She is very sweet. Opossums have a very shy demeanor." Despite being mistreated by humans, Angel did not try to bite or attack Tabatha even once during the weeks that she cared for her. She also loves cuddling with Ronnie, Tabatha's husband.
"My goal is to make sure she doesn't get an infection, add a little weight to her, and release her and her babies together as soon as possible," Tabatha said.
She knew a man who owns 60 acres of land where hunting is forbidden, and he absolutely loves wildlife. Once Angel was fully recovered from her injuries and had given birth to her babies, they were released on this property where she could safely embrace the outdoors with her family.
Looking back, it was very fortunate that Judy had stopped the car and saw that this critter needed help. If not for her compassion, Angel and her babies may not be alive and well today. Typically, Judy works with rescue dogs and cats. "This is out of the ordinary for me, but I wouldn't have avoided her for that reason," she said. "She is still an animal with a beating heart, and it was still beating when I got to her." To keep up with The Abandoned Ones "Saving Animals in Danger," be sure to check out their Facebook page.
You can also learn more about the DFW Wildlife Coalition here.
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H/T: The Dodo