It's Saturday night and you are driving home late. You
spot a pair of shiny eyes next to the road and investigate. You find an
injured deer. What do you do now? You call a veterinarian and find that
he is neither licensed nor willing to accept wild animals. You call the
animal control people and find they only take care of dogs and cats and
only Monday-Friday from 8 to 4:30.
You call the police and they tell you it is not their
jurisdiction. You watch the deer as it's life slips away.
What should you do? You have just discovered the
frustration people experience when faced with an injured or orphaned
All states have laws to protect wildlife from
unauthorized possession. We need these laws to protect the animals from
being collected by people who would like to keep them as pets. Most wild
animals do not make good pets. But these laws also restrict animal
control agencies, veterinarians, and police agencies. The answer is a
licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
All states have a system of licensing individuals to
care for injured and orphaned wildlife. These people can care for and
treat injuries in wildlife. They can also raise an orphaned animal to
adulthood and release it in native habitat. All rehabbers work with a
veterinarian who specializes in wildlife. Best of all, for you,
rehabbers work through a system of grants and donations. They do not
charge fees to the "rescuer" for their services. It isn't necessary for
you to find veterinarian, they already have. But you need to know who is
the wildlife rehabber in your area.
Rehabbers can be frustrating to find on weekends or
holidays. It is best to keep this information with you. After locating a
rehabber, CALL them. Ask about their operation, ask about emergency
phone numbers. Ask what services they provide. What area do they cover?
Will they come to an injured animal or does the animal have to be
brought to them? Do they specialize in a particular animal, or do they
handle all wild animals and birds? Keep their phone number with you at
all times, in your wallet, or in your car. So many injured animals are
found when people are driving, it would be little help if you have to go
home for a phone number.
You can locate a rehabber in your area by calling your
state's wildlife regulating agency. They license the rehabbers and know
where they are. You can also find one at:
The Wildlife Rehabilitation Information Direc...
Also check your yellow pages under "Wildlife Services"
and ask local veterinarians. Many rehabbers have notified local vets of
the services they provide.
Here are some tips from an experienced rehabber:
If you find an injured animal and can stay with it until
the rehabber comes to get it, that is best. Rehabbers get many calls
that someone "saw an injured deer along county road XX" You try to find
an injured deer at 2 o'clock in the morning with that discription!!!
That it was "not far from where the old silo used to be" doesn't help. A
pair of flashing hazard lights is much easier to find. If you have to
leave the area to call, go back to meet the rehabber when they arrive.
When giving directions be clear and concise. Be calm. Rehabbers may have
to cover a 6 or 7 county area and do not know every little road by the
locally referred names or by locally famous landmarks. If the animal is
in an out of the way place, meet the rehabber at a more easily found
place and lead them to the animal.
Call a rehabber right away!!! No matter the time.
Rehabbers get so many animals that have been kept by well meaning people
for a day or two or four. Then when the animal is nearly dead, the
desperate rescuer shows up and wants the rehabber to save the animal's
If possible, have the rehabber come to the animal.
Moving an injured animal carelessly can cause it more suffering and
could even kill the animal. It is best to keep the animal still and as
calm as possible. Covering it's face and eyes will usually calm an
animal. Most rehabbers carry tranquilizers on calls for injured animals
and can sedate the animal before moving it. Large animals may require
your help in moving.
Try not to handle the animal. Wild animals can carry
disease. For instance, if you are bitten or scratched by a wild animal,
the rehabber may be required by state law to euthanize the animal and
have it tested for rabies!!! Rehabbers have had pre-exposure
vaccinations to protect themselves...and the animals they handle!
Wildlife rehabbers are dedicated people who give much of
themselves to directly help those animals most in need. They save the
lives of hundreds of thousands of animals each year. Because their funds
are limited and dedicated to helping animals, they do not advertise as
well as veterinarians or others. The cost of a yellow pages ad could
save the lives of a dozen animals!!!
When considering donations to animal organizations,
remember your local rehabbers and animal shelters. No one does more to
directly help animals in need than these dedicated people.
If you to take the time, now, to locate a rehabber when
you don't need one, you can be assured they will be there when you do
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