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June 23, 2013

Norman hospital workers help patient with broken wing

NORMAN — Lauren Berry wheels patients from A to B at Norman Regional Healthplex, but this was the first time she’d had to transport a patient in a cardboard box.

That morning, Berry’s coworker, Gilbert Shepherdson, had been walking near the Healthplex’s pond when he saw a young Canada Goose. Geese nesting around the pond are a common sight, but this goose had a broken wing.

“I saw her dragging her wing,” Shepherdson said. “I reckoned we could catch her, I just didn’t know how. I never tried to catch a goose before.”

Shepherdson returned with Berry and a possé of four or five other hospital workers. They armed themselves with nets used for pond maintenance. But even with a fractured humerus, the goose could hold its own.

“She figured out what we were trying to do and wasn’t having any part of it,” Berry said. “I was trying to come from behind with the net. …We would go one way and she would go the other. It was a wild goose chase.”

After half an hour of frantic pursuit in the 90-degree heat, Berry and Shepherdson knew they were beaten. That afternoon, one of their coworkers managed to sneak up on the goose and stuff it into a supply box. It fell to Berry and Shepherdson to drive the goose to the WildCare animal shelter in Noble before it could peck its way out of its cardboard prison.

“They told us initially that we might have to euthanize her,” Berry said. “But they called us back later to tell us there was a veterinarian in Oklahoma City who would be willing to amputate the wing and take her to his farm.”

That veterinarian was Dr. James Bixler of Oklahoma City’s Companion Animal Clinic, a modest but orderly facility nestled between a loan office and a strip mall. Bixler has made a second career out of treating injured wild birds for free. He took Berry’s goose, fed it, gave it antibiotics and bandaged its wing to keep the bones from dislocating.

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