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Nearly 2 dozen turtles hit by cars, brought to hospital in past 2 weeks

It may be tough to tell, but the turtle pictured below is in pain.

“Turtles feel pain just as every other animal does. They are very underestimated in that regard, but they do,” said Joanna Fitzgerald, director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital.

Injured turtle at von Arx Wildlife Hospital. (WINK News)

It’s one of the nearly two dozen turtles hit by cars in the past two weeks and brought into the Collier County hospital.

“Normally, we get about three injured turtles a week,” said the hospital’s coordinator, Colleen Durham.

Experts at von Arx think these high numbers may be related to last week’s heavy rains.

“That water that was pooling, is drying up, and these turtles are in search of different water sources,” Durham explained.

Even worse than the high numbers of injured turtles, “it’s the people not stopping to help them which is really sad,” Fitzgerald said.

Only one of these turtles got brought in by the person who hit it, leaving them with cracked shells and a long recovery.

“So whoever has hit these turtles has just driven away and left them to suffer on the side of the road,” Fitzgerald said.

“We can kind of put it back together. Sometimes, we’ll secure the shell with different things and then they just require those pain meds and antibiotics and a lot of time to heal up,” explained Durham.

But you can help if you see an injured turtle.

“If you can safely pull over, be prepared, keep a towel in a box in your car that you can just gently cover them with a towel and put them into the box,” Fitzgerald said.

The sooner these slowpokes get to an animal hospital, the quicker they’ll heal.

Also, if you see any turtle trying to cross a road, you can help by assisting it to get across safely.

There have been no new turtle admissions since Wednesday afternoon. One Florida box turtle was released this week and all of the turtles in their care are stabilized and continue to recover. The von Arx Wildlife Hospital says they will be with them for several weeks.

Reporter:Rachel Cox-Rosen
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