CALAVERAS COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — A 95-pound tortoise has avoided becoming roadkill after efforts by animal lovers.
After news of the highway accident in Calaveras County, a fundraising effort was quickly mounted.
The tortoise, named “Highway Pete” by his rescuer, was struck by a car on Highway 49 near San Andreas on Tuesday.
The injuries were severe, with gashes left behind in his thick shell.
“This was definitely a first for me,” said Brandon Milo with Milo’s Misfits Reptile Rescue. “There were fractures from corner to corner.”
A Cal Fire crew responding to the accident contacted Milo, who runs his one-man reptile rescue operation out of his San Andreas house.
“This is the worst I’ve ever seen on a larger tortoise in terms of the damage, but what I was hoping for was no internal damage,” Milo told FOX40.
Milo estimated Pete to be about 7 years old.
While you might think tortoises are mellow, slow-moving creatures, Milo said they are escape artists that are persistent and move faster than expected.
“I’ve seen them go through a chain-link fence, just about everything. But they are very strong, deceptively strong,” he explained.
Highway Pete was brought to the Arbor Pet Clinic where Dr. Richard Turner has repaired damage to over a hundred turtles and tortoises — but none with the kind of damage done to the 95-pound tortoise.
“It was pretty bad,” Turner said.
For a time, the veterinarian’s operating room had the look of an auto body shop rather than a medical facility.
Repairing the damage was no easy task. Epoxy resin, mesh and fiberglass were used in a process that went on for several days.
“The prognosis is pretty good as long as there’s no internal damage,” Turner said. “It looks pretty good.”
So far, prognosis for recovery is good, with another day of repair work yet to be done.
Thanks to a Facebook fundraising campaign, over $4,000 have been raised to pay for medical costs.
“I was not expecting this kind of support from everyone,” Milo said. “Our community is amazing. This went way beyond Calaveras County was the crazy part.”
Milo said he will be updating his Facebook fundraising page to let everyone know just how Highway Pete is doing,
Meanwhile, several people have come forward to claim Pete as their own.