SYCAMORE – Kathy Stelford, founder of Oaken Acres Wildlife Center, watched Friday as Memorial Daysy tried to steady herself with a splint still on her back left leg.
The 4-day-old fawn was born Monday with a broken leg after her mom was hit by a car in Naperville. Not only was Daysy born moments before her mom died, Stelford said, but there was another full-term fawn that died in the mother’s womb.
“She was basically expelled by her mom in her death throes,” Stelford said.
Stelford said Oaken Acres, 12140 Aldrich Road, is one of the only wildlife centers in the area that will take fawns that are hurt and orphaned – which, she said, Daysy fit both categories.
Naperville police officer Matt Nimuth responded to the crash Monday morning and wrapped the fawn in a towel and put it in his police car after it was born at the scene, according to the police department’s Facebook post. Stelford said that animal control officers responded to the scene and brought Daysy to the wildlife center.
Stelford said she had to bring the injured fawn to a veterinarian, and she thought of Dennis Diemer, a veterinarian from Prairie View Animal Hospital in DeKalb. As were many other businesses, however, his office was closed because of the holiday, she said.
Stelford said Diemer was getting ready for a Memorial Day gathering at his home when she ran up to him.
“I showed up in his backyard saying, ‘Dennis, I need your help,’ ’’ Stelford said, and Diemer dropped his pool skimmer and helped put the splint on Daysy’s leg, which had an open fracture and multiple breaks, she said.
Diemer said he met Stelford at the animal hospital 10 minutes later, since the necessary medical supplies weren’t at his home, and he put Daysy’s leg in a cast when she was still hours old.
“And then I went back to my Memorial Day party,” Diemer said with a laugh.
Diemer said the procedure was nothing out of the ordinary for his practice, although it’s the first time he’s seen a broken leg happen to a fawn that was less than a day old. He said the most unusual thing about Daysy’s situation is that there was so much trauma to a surviving animal while it still was inside its mother’s uterus.
“It’s just something I’ve never really seen before,” Diemer said. “So it’s kind of an unusual case for sure.”
Diemer said he and Stelford are looking at a healing time of four weeks for Daysy’s broken leg. There still are a lot of unknowns with such a traumatic fracture, but the younger the animal, the better chances of healing the animal has, he said.
“And they don’t get much younger than that fawn was when the trauma occurred,” Diemer said.
Stelford said that Daysy lost all of the necessary nutrients from not being with her mother during her first 24 hours of life makes her recovery even more difficult.
For the time being, she said, Daysy has been living in her house to eliminate outside stressors and the risk of infection while she’s still on antibiotics for her broken leg.
But, Stelford said, Daysy has been acting like a champ, considering what happened to her. She said Daysy has been standing on her own, and she is a very good eater.
“She acts like she’s OK,” Stelford said.
Stelford said she’s trying not to think too far ahead about what will happen to Daysy after September, whether she will be released back into the wild if everything heals properly.
She said there aren’t many places that will keep deer permanently, but she still is hopeful that Daysy will be able to live a normal life as a wild deer one day.
“We’re in the business of hope,” Stelford said. “That’s what we keep doing.”