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Auburn University takes on unique case after patient turned away by other vets

Chester the duck was brought to Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine for treatment and surgery to repair a puncture wound in his esophagus.
Chester the duck was brought to Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine for treatment and surgery to repair a puncture wound in his esophagus. Special to the Ledger-Enquirer

Surgeons and clinicians at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine announced that Chester Schulz, a 1-year-old duck from Newnan, Ga., is doing well after he went in for surgery to repair a puncture wound at the base of his neck.

“I looked at Chester, who is named for the old ‘Gunsmoke’ western TV series character, and noticed the wound,” said Bob Schulz, the neighborhood resident who brought Chester in for treatment.

Schulz and his neighbors treat Chester and other ducks as pets, but Schulz said that no local veterinarian would admit Chester for surgery.

“No local veterinarian would take the case, but we called Auburn, and they told us to bring him in.”

Dr. Seth Oster, a veterinarian at Auburn, said he first saw Chester in June and examined the wound.

“He had what appeared to be a puncture wound at the base of his neck and was losing food and water. Once we got the wound well cleaned, we found that the injury went completely into the esophagus,” Oster said.

Oster consulted with a colleague, Dr. Harry Boothe, and both agreed that surgery was needed to restore Chester to his normal lake life.

“The wound had started to heal, fusing the torn skin to the esophagus and the esophagus to the feathered skin, but not closing the opening,” Oster said. “The only way to correct the injury required surgery.”

The 45-minute procedure was a success, and Boothe successfully closed the neck wound. After two weeks of “isolation and loving care,” Chester was fully recovered and delivered back to frolic with his lake pals.

Nobody is quite sure how Chester was hurt in the first place, but Schulz said it might have been caused by a nail or other sharp object. He has inspected the duck’s home and hasn’t found anything, but will be keeping watch.

“He is doing great,” Schulz said. “To look at him now, you cannot tell that he was ever injured. I would recommend Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine to anyone.”

Scott Berson: 706-571-8578, @ScottBersonLE

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