Woman Fights To Keep Injured Therapy Kangaroo

Illustration for article titled Woman Fights To Keep Injured Therapy Kangaroo

An Oklahoma woman is seeking an exemption from the Broken Arrow City Council to keep her therapeutic pet, even though there's a small possibility that he'll grow to more than 7-feet tall and become violent. Christie Carr, who suffers from depression, developed a bond with Irwin, a baby kangaroo, after he ran into a fence at an animal sanctuary and she nursed him back to health, the Associated Press reports. The injury left Irwin partially paralyzed and caused him to suffer brain damage, though he's now able to hop three or four times with assistance.

Illustration for article titled Woman Fights To Keep Injured Therapy Kangaroo

At 1-year-old, Irwin weighs 25 pounds and Carr cares for him like a child. She feeds him, snaps him into a car seat, and takes him everywhere she goes. He even wears clothing, which protects him from germs and is necessary for unspecified "therapeutic reasons."


City officials are understandably concerned about the prospect of a full size wild animal being toted to the local Starbucks, but his veteranarian, Dr. Lesleigh Cash Warren, says he'll probably only grow to 50 pounds due to his injury and isn't likely to become agressive because he's neutered. In a letter supporting Carr's effort to keep Irwin, Warren said, "Irwin cannot be judged as any normal kangaroo. He is a unique animal due to his disabilities and will require a lifetime of care and concern for his welfare."

Carr's therapist also believes the two should stay together and has certified Irwin as a therapy pet. As of March 15 the Americans With Diabilities Act only recognizes dogs and miniature horses as service animals, but according to the Chicago Sun-Times, states and municipalities can make their own guidelines. The council has delayed its decision until April 17, and is considering creating a review panel that would look at appeals to keep exotic animals on a case-by-case basis.

Okla. Woman Asking To Keep Disabled Kangaroo [AP]
Dog Or Mini-Horse Can Be Service Animal, According To New Law [Chicago Sun-Times]

Earlier: Therapeutic Iguanas And Other Questionable Service Animals

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I worked as a vet tech for 2 years at an exotic animal hospital where we saw everything from birds to penguins. I also am a pre-veterinary Animal Science major applying to vet school in the fall.

I have to go with the veterinarian on this one. There are not a lot of veterinarians who see exotic animals and those that do are highly knowledgeable, competent individuals. They also tend to make an awful lot of money and are vehemently opposed to keeping large wild animals like wolves, tigers, chimpanzees and bobcats as pets. The veterinarian is obviously very skilled as they neutered this kangaroo which is not a common surgery and involves anesthesia which is notoriously tricky in exotic animals. So if this animal is indeed paralyzed and requires a lot of 1 on 1 attention AND has an owner willing to pay for its care when we already have a shortage of wild animal sanctuaries and shelters AND the veterinarian believes that it will not get any bigger than a medium-sized dog thus not posing a physical danger to humans which may come into contact with it, then let the woman keep it.

And stop judging the woman for putting clothes on it. If the animal is paralyzed, the jeans may be there to hide a diaper which the animal wears and the shirt may be there to prevent it from mauling its own flesh due to a chronic skin condition which may cause it to itch. We saw a lot of birds and other exotics at our clinic which wore sweaters or other garments to prevent scratching and causing infection to their skin. Usually, the use of clothes prevented the animal from even wanting to itch and minimized irritation and suffering.

This is a case in which more information is needed to make a sound judgemant but if the therapist and the veterinarian involved (who are both educated professionals and far more knowledgeable about the relationship of this woman and this particular animal) say that it is a great situation, then I just have to defer to them completely.