While I realize this story is not on par with O’Henry’s Gift of the Magi or Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, from a New Yorker’s perspective and a veterinarian’s viewpoint, it is a truly heartwarming story for the season.
The story starts with the daily 5:30 am email to AMC staff announcing the overnight admissions to the hospital. At first the list did not seem unusual, a coughing dog, a vomiting cat. But then I got to the ICU admission of a “stray” hedgehog. Stray didn’t seem quite right, since hedgehogs are clearly not indigenous to New York City. When I arrived in ICU for morning rounds, sure enough, there was a hedgehog, pictured here, eating cat food pellets from a paper plate.
The ICU staff reported the hedgehog had been found the night before on Third Avenue near Dylan’s Candy Bar and was brought to The Animal Medical Center by a Good Samaritan who kindly took a shopping break to help this poor creature reach a safe haven. The hedgehog was not your “typical hedgehog,” it had a bandage on one of its hind legs and when the ICU staff examined the hedgehog, they found the bandage covered a recent surgical site. The AMC’s Avian and Exotic Pet Service was contacted and they reported caring for a patient matching the description of the hedgehog in ICU. The phone-a-thon to locate the owner began immediately, but was unsuccessful in reaching the hedgehog’s family.
The hedgehog stayed in the Exotic Pet ward at AMC for the next couple of days. Her presence made all of us smile to see such a cute little critter in our midst. At the end of the day, a few days after the hedgehog arrived at AMC, Dr. Cazzolli of AMC’s Emergency Service was heading home on the subway. Posted in the Lexington Avenue subway station were lost pet flyers announcing, you guessed it, a missing hedgehog. Immediately, Dr. Cazzolli called the owner who was overjoyed to learn her hedgehog was safe at The AMC, where she was happily reunited with Madame, the formerly stray hedgehog.
Pretty incredible, a city of millions of people, wrapped up in their pre-Christmas frenzy, a kind stranger and now a 300 gram hedgehog is back with her family for the holidays. As Tiny Tim would say, “God bless us every one.”
This blog may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog from WebMD.
For nearly a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.