DURAND – She looks like a duck, she quacks like a duck, but she doesn't walk like a duck, and that's a problem.
Snuggles, a domestic duck, was born 2 years ago with a bum left leg – the joints don't connect, and that has kept her from ever waddling. As a result, her right leg is weak from lack of use.
She lived her stationary life on a farm until 2 weeks ago, when she was brought to Hoo Haven Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center by a friend of her owner. She weighed about 3 pounds – a good 7 pounds underweight – and she needed a bath and medicine to clear up her eyes, said Karen Herdklotz, Hoo Haven's director.
At the same time, the center had taken in Buttercup, an 8-week-old pelican. Shunned by the other pelicans, Buttercup immediately bird-bonded with Snuggles. The two are inseparable, and in fact, that's how Snuggles got her name.
"They're always side by side," Herdklotz said.
Snuggles now spends her time eating, doing aquatic leg-strengthening exercises, getting bathed, even watching TV.
"She really gets a lot of attention," Herdklotz said.
The strengthening exercises have a purpose: Hoo Haven happened to have had the same situation about a decade ago and left over from that experience was a duck wheelchair, said Donald Czyzyk of Sterling, a member of the Hoo Haven board.
The problem is, it's too small for Snuggles, and even if it fit, her weak leg can't propel it.
The solution: a new wheelchair, and a new leg to go with it.
Makerite Manufacturing in Roscoe is donating a custom wheelchair, and there's a GoFundMe campaign to raise $2,500 to get Snuggles to Pennsylvania, where there's a vet who will amputate her feckless flipper and outfit her with a prosthetic leg, Czyzyk said.
He posted the appeal Monday on the online fundraising site, and as of this afternoon, $1,838 has been raised.
It just goes to show, no matter what, an animal is worthy of care and deserving of the chance to live a good life, Herdklotz said.
"Honestly, it has been unbelievable the amount of people that, you show them a need, and their beautiful hearts and giving hearts come through. I am in awe."
Go to gofundme.com/hoohaven to donate to Snuggle's new prosthetic leg.