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The Miracle of Clyde the Three-legged Senior Tripawd Rabbit

Attending Blog Paws 2012 was a great opportunity to meet a variety of folks doing incredible things for the animal kingdom. One such person we met was a representative from Little Miracles Rabbit Rescue, a New Jersey-based organization dedicated to improving the lives of domestic rabbits through the coordination of local volunteer-driven education, rescue, and adoption efforts.

One afternoon at Blog Paws, Little Miracles told us about their famous Tripawd bunny Clyde, a 12-year old Tripawd rabbit! We had no idea rabbits could survive on three legs and we wanted hear more. Little Miracles wrote the following story about him, which originally appeared in the Quintessential Rabbit blog. With their permission, here’s Clyde’s story for you!

Clyde Blossoms from “Meat Bunny” to Three-Legged Spokesrabbit

Looking at adorable Clyde here, you’d never know a few things about him at first glance. He’s a three-legged 12 year old rabbit, but there’s more to his story.

Clyde the Tripawd RabbitFirst, Clyde was part of a massive rescue of bunnies in the summer of 2002. With temperatures dipping repeatedly into the upper 80’s and 90’s, Little Miracles, a rabbit rescue in New Jersey got a phone call from a woman who said the “meat bunnies” her husband had purchased a few months prior were breeding out of control and for a measly $4 each, she wanted to know if the shelter would buy them.

After some negotiations, and the shocking total count of 63 rabbits, four volunteer vehicles loaded up all the rabbits. Many of the rabbits had pasturella, a rabbit disease which plagues it’s sufferers with health problems that come on in waves; bite wounds that wouldn’t heal, dangerous abscesses that required surgery, upper respiratory symptoms that can lead to pneumonia.

Clyde was one of those bunnies that would spend his life battling almost seasonal respiratory infections that caused wheezing, sneezing and nasal discharge.

For 6 years, Clyde stayed up for adoption as the remaining rabbits were slowly adopted out. Eventually it became clear that Clyde wasn’t going anywhere. His bonded mate, Adrian passed in the spring of 2012 and his family feared he wouldn’t be far behind. Clyde’s respiratory problems seemed to have less and less “clear” time between bouts of symptoms and he was slowing down big time.

And then one day, his mama, Judy Corson, noticed he wasn’t using his back left leg so off to the vet they went. An x-ray confirmed that the leg wasn’t just broken… the kneecap was shattered. The vet couldn’t tell without surgery if the leg was swelling from an infection or a tumor, but either way there was only one answer: Clyde’s back left leg had to go.’

Is Amputation an Option for a Senior Rabbit?

Clyde the Tripawd RabbitIn just the 6 days between limping and surgery – the leg swelled up and the knee area burst open. It required daily bandage changes, warm soaks, gentle washing and medication. You can see the huge tumor/lump right in the middle at the joint. The doctor was amazed at how quickly the leg had progressed. There was zero doubt it had to be removed and quickly.

This was the first time in a long time that the Corson family even thought twice before pulling out the credit cards and making a plan of action. Clyde had just passed his twelfth birthday – no small feat for a bunny, especially one with pasturella with active symptoms. They ran a full panel of bloodwork to see if he’d hold up through anestesia – surprisingly his blood work came back with great results. Even though he’d had almost six straight months of nasal discharge, his lungs sounded clear and looked good on x-ray.

Clyde the Tripawd Rabbit

So now the question was – is $800 amputation surgery in the best interest of a senior bunny? Judy’s daughter, Kristie, who runs the rabbit rescue had a long talk with Clyde that night. They’d already started him on injectable pain medication because clearly relief couldn’t wait until surgery. Kristie said that Clyde made the decision easy – he showed no signs of disinterest in his favorite slinky or his meals, and he put up with bandange changes, wound dressings and warm epsom salt soaks like a champ.

Six days after the limping started and the x-ray confirmed the worst, Clyde spent a remarkable 49 minutes under the knife with Dr. Genevive Leferiere at Pitman Animal Hospital. Thanks to his mama’s shelter-training he got to do his after-care at home; He stayed on injectable pain medication, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics and fluids for seven days – but never skipped a single meal, including plowing through a bowl of salad and strawberries just hours after the amputation.

Clyde Gets His Spunk Back!

By day four, one thing was very clear. Clyde had not been “slowing down” over the past year. He was simply working hard to hide the symptoms of an aching rear leg that whole time. Without the painful leg, Clyde took a time-machine trip back to 2004 when his favorite past-time was chasing foster kittens and climbing on the furniture.

Clyde the Tripawd RabbitFive days after surgery, Clyde no longer wanted to be penned up in a specially designed baby pool full of super soft Carefresh and he cleared the 4′ puppy play pen in a single bound – with ONE back leg doing all the lifting. He had NO problem getting on the living room couch.

Since Clyde’s surgery, the family has realized there was never any reason to consider not doing the surgery.

  • His quality of life is terrific.
  • He’s happy again.
  • And even with only three legs, he can do everything he did before his back leg gave in to the cancer.

Luckily, with rabbits, the tumor he had was not likely to spread – so Clyde’s prognosis is excellant. His most recent round of azithromycin even wiped out his pasturella symptoms, and he’s back to bossing around the cats and waiting at the fridge for his supper.”

Clyde’s Kristie, runs Little Miracles in Atco, NJ and can be reached at the Little Miracles Rabbit Rescue website.

Many thanks to Little Miracles for sharing this wonderful three-legged rabbit tale with us!

3 Responses to “The Miracle of Clyde the Three-legged Senior Tripawd Rabbit”

  1. FYI just want to update this post with a new study that came out by the Journal of the American Veterinary Assn:

    Outcome for client-owned domestic rabbits undergoing limb amputation: 34 cases (2000–2009)
    http://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/abs/10.2460/javma.244.8.950

  2. That is just the most gorgeous story. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  3. How wonderful! Sometimes I guess we forget that the smaller mammals can and do experience these terrible diseases as well, but can also get through them and thrive with help and care. Live long and prosper, Clyde!

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