Jul 15, 2010

Animal Rescuers Answering Machine Message

Hello, You have reached 555-5555, Animal Rescue. Due to the high volume of calls we have been receiving, please listen closely to the following options and choose the one that best describes you or your situation:

Press 1 if you think we are veterinarians and want free medical advice.

Press 2 if you know we are a rescue organization but want to save money and have us give you free, untrained medical advice anyway.

Press 3 if you make $200,000 a year but still want us to pay to spay the "stray" in your yard (house).

Press 4 if you have a 10-year-old dog and your 15-year-old son has suddenly become allergic and you need to find the dog a new home right away.

Press 5 if you have three dogs, had a baby and want to get rid of your dogs because you are the only person in the world to have a baby and dogs at the same time.

Press 6 if your dog is sick and needs a vet but you need the money for your vacation.

Press 7 if you just got a brand new puppy and your old dog is having problems adjusting so you want to get rid of the old one right away.

Press 8 if your little puppy has grown up and is no longer small and cute and you want to trade it in for a new model.

Press 9 if you are elderly and want to adopt a cute puppy who is not active and is going to outlive you.

Press 10 if your relative has died and you don't want to care for their elderly dog because it doesn't fit your lifestyle.

Press 11 if you are moving today and need to immediately place your 150 pound, 8-year-old, unneutured, aggressive dog.

Press 12 if you want an unpaid volunteer to come to your home today and pick up the dog you no longer want.

Press 13 if you have been feeding and caring for a "stray" for the last three years, are moving and suddenly determine it's not your dog.

Press 14 if you are calling at 6 a.m. to make sure you wake me up before I have to go to work so you can drop a dog off on your way to work.

Press 15 to leave us an anonymous garbled message, letting us know you have left a dog in our yard in the middle of January, which is in fact, better than just leaving the dog with no message.

Press 16 if you are going to get angry because we are not going to take your dog that you have had for fifteen years, because it is not our responsibility.

Press 17 if you are going to threaten to take your ten year old dog to be euthanized because we can't get to your house in the next hour.

Press 18 if you're going to get angry because the volunteers had the audacity to go on vacation and leave the dogs in care of a trusted volunteer who is not authorized to take your personal pet.

Press 19 if you want one of our perfectly trained, housebroken, kid and cat friendly purebred tiny dogs that we have an abundance of.

Press 20 if you want us to take your dog that has a slight aggression problem, i.e. has only bitten a few people and killed your neighbor's cats.

Press 21 if you have already called once and been told we don't take personal surrenders but thought you would get a different person this time with a different answer.

Press 22 if you want us to use space that would go to a stray to board your personal dog while you are on vacation, free of charge, of course.

Press 23 if it is Christmas Eve or Easter morning and you want me to deliver an eight week old puppy to your house by 6:30 am before your kids wake up.

Press 24 if you have bought your children a duckling, chick or baby bunny for Easter and it is now Christmas and no longer cute.

Press 25 if you want us to take your female dog who has already had ten litters, but we can't spay her because she is pregnant again and it is against your religion.

Press 26 if you're lying to make one of our younger volunteers feel bad and take your personal pet off your hands.

Press 27 if your two year old male dog is marking all over your house but you just haven't gotten around to having him neutered.

Press 28 if you previously had an outdoor only dog and are calling because she is suddenly pregnant.

Press 29 if you have done "everything" to housebreak your dog and have had no success but you don't want to crate the dog because it is cruel.

Press 30 if you didn't listen to the message asking for an evening phone number and you left your work number when all volunteers are also working and you are angry because no one called you back.

Press 31 if you need a puppy immediately and cannot wait because today is your daughter's birthday and you forgot when she was born.

Press 32 if your dog's coat doesn't match your new furniture and you need a different color or breed.

Press 33 if your new love doesn't like your dog and you are too stupid to get rid of the new friend (who will dump you in the next month anyway) instead of the dog.

Press 34 if you went through all these 'presses' and didn't hear enough. This press will connect you to the sounds of tears being shed by one of our volunteers who is holding a discarded old dog while the vet mercifully frees him from the grief of missing his family.

Author Unknown

Jun 30, 2010

FUNDRAISER for Teaching Facility

FUNDRAISER: Wildlife Office, Triage and Teaching Facility

The Rainbow Wildlife Rescue (RWR) continues to grow - beyond our own walls in fact. In light of the recent affiliation with the Tarleton State University R.E.A.L. (Real-world Experience Applied to Learning) program we have accomplished one of our main goals to expand our wildlife education program. The opportunity benefits all those involved and we are very excited! Beginning this fall the RWR will offer internships to students participating in the R.E.A.L. program.


Wildlife Rehabilitation is a volunteer service offered to the state; there is no official funding available. RWR operates from a private residence that is basically a very old (1945) small, 2 bedroom house.

Presently, one room is utilized as a wildlife nursery and another one is used as an office. The electrical system is taxed and circuits blow on regular basis.

As RWR grows so does the number of public visitors who often arrive unannounced and at all hours of the day and night. In short, RWR is in desperate need of physical expansion to allow for a formal office and proper animal care wards.

FUNDRAISER: Wildlife Office, Triage and Teaching Facility
Mini Rice Buddy
Mini Rice Buddy
Please click above DONATE button to contribute to the Wildlife Office Fundraiser! Every person donating more than $25 will receive a FREE Gift! paypal

RWR explored 3 solutions:

1) move to a bigger place
2) close the rescue
3) get an affordable office separate from the residence and the animal care wards (by law, we must keep the public away from animals being rehabilitated)

Solution #1 is not presently viable, neither is solution #2. That leaves option #3 and the purpose of this letter.

RWR has researched portable buildings and determined that this structure would adequately suffice and be a tremendous benefit to our cause. It is 12x24 feet in size and will cost $5,000.

Here is an example (click on the thumbnails to view a larger version of the image):

Cabin Cabin
Cabin Cabin

FUNDRAISER: Wildlife Office, Triage and Teaching Facility
Mini Rice Buddy
Mini Rice Buddy
Please click above DONATE button to contribute to the Wildlife Office Fundraiser! Every person donating more than $25 will receive a FREE Gift! paypal

The interior and electrical tasks could be turned into project opportunities for shop classes. We are exploring community involvement such as this.

This office will provide space for basic office furniture, equipment, and a table with a chairs for interning students. A portion of the building will be separated and used for emergency triage area for new arrivals of distressed animals. One wall will be nursery incubators and cages with critical heating pads.

The goal is to raise $5000 to purchase the building and explore classes or groups that are interested in the interior projects including electrical and hopefully some plumbing.

The Rainbow Wildlife Rescue INC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity organization and all donations are tax deductible.

Everybody that donates more than $25 for this "Wildlife Office, Triage and small Teaching Facility" fundraiser will receive a FREE gift!

FREE Gift for Donations over $25 !
15 Seconds Mini-Rice-Buddy
The Mini-Rice-Buddy provides 30 minutes of soothing heat! Microwave for only 15 seconds! Re-use as often as you wish!


Please click above DONATE button to contribute to the Wildlife Office Fundraiser! Every person donating more than $25 will receive a FREE Gift!

Here are just a few ways you can use your Mini-Rice-Buddy:

  • Emergency heat source for chilled animal babies
  • Quick hand (or feet) warmer for those icy wintry days
  • Soothing to touch and knead for sore hands
  • Great for the "pain in the neck" and to loosen up other muscle tensions
  • Kneading the Mini-Rice-Buddy gives nervous hands something to do (helps stop smoking, fingernail biting etc)

And a lot more!

May 9, 2010

Can I keep it?

I found a wild baby animal! Can I keep it?

May, 2010

A common call received by the Rainbow Wildlife Rescue is, “I have found an abandoned baby or injured wild animal.”

The most common questions asked are, “What do I need to do with it?”, “What can I feed it?” and then the most dreaded question “Can I keep it?”

Orphaned Squirrel

That's where my job gets tough because the answers are often not the ones people want to hear.


People that find a wild animal are very excited about it and typically show it off to friends and family and share pictures too. Sooner or later one of those people or maybe a neighbor will not like it and call law enforcement.

As a result the illegal animal will most likely be confiscated and euthanized. You will have to pay a hefty fine and end up with an entry in your records.

orphaned beaver

Not to mention the heartbreak and devastation many folks go through because they have grown attached to the animal.

Wildlife laws are made not only to protect native wildlife, but to also protect the general public.

In almost every case, keeping a wild animal is illegal. Native wildlife species are protected by state laws, federal laws, or both.

To keep a wild animal in captivity for any length of time, for any reason, requires a special permit. Most cities and many counties have passed local ordinances that prevent individuals from keeping wild animals in captivity.

Songbirds and birds of prey are protected by Federal law and have fines of $15,000 up and jail time. Nests and feathers of songbirds and raptors are protected as well.


Even as a baby, these animals can be carriers of a large number of zoonotic diseases and parasites communicable to humans and household pets. Diseases such as rabies, Lyme disease, roundworms and tuberculosis are just a few. If you or any member of your family is scratched or bitten, that animal is required to be euthanized and tested for rabies, because tests on live animals are not possible.


Have you ever thought about the difference between wild and domesticated animals?

Domesticated animals such as cats and dogs seek human company and enjoy to be petted, cuddled and played with. They depend on their human owners for food, housing and leadership.

Wild animals are considered wild because they are species that have not been domesticated and therefore have a natural fear of everything that's physically bigger than them, including us, their biggest predator. It doesn't matter if you raised the animal from his first day of life, they have different instincts than domestic species.

This will become a factor as they mature into an animal that can be very hard to manage and very high maintenance. The cute baby animal you wanted to save with great intentions is now in danger of being confiscated, killed, relegated to living in a cage, or even harming someone.

There is also a tremendous and painful emotional separation that can occur - not just for you, but for the now confused animal! It just isn't fair and it derives from a selfish desire. We must think "long term".

Orphaned Opossum


People trying to help wild animals sometimes receive serious injuries. Many expect an animal to recognize their kind intentions and love and do everything in their power to convince the scared animal to not be afraid. Yet that fear is the key to their survival, instilled in their genes throughout evolution.

Sometimes young animals become imprinted and dependent up their human captors and if released back into the wild may become a nuisance or simply die because of the human interference in their lives that prevented them from learning critical survival skills.

In addition, wild animals deserve the best possible care which requires expert training and knowledge considering that each species has specialized needs. Orphans require individual diets and formulas to grow strong and healthy.

They need to learn survival skills, how to recognize and find food, recognize predators, how and where to establish their living quarters before they are released back into the wild. Most young animals need to be raised in the company of their own kind for proper social and behavioral development.


orphaned Raccoons

A lot of folks who ended up caring for a wild animal had plans to release the animal once it is grown or has recovered from its injuries but where not able to do so because they have grown too attached and are not capable of putting the animal's needs before their own desires.

Wildlife rehabilitators however have an advantage when they return their residents to the wild - they have years of experience in letting go and are happy for the animal. It's a privilege to return nature's very own.

They are not ours. Wildlife rehabilitators do their job selflessly for the animals, not their own feelings, gain or entertainment.

Enjoy wildlife, but leave animals to their natural habitats. Not only for the animal’s well being, but for human safety. Allow wild animals to live the way they were meant to live, wild and free.

To make a long answer short: No, you can't keep it! If you really care please learn how to help, when to help, and when maybe not to help. Sometimes "help" can be a death sentence.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is the property of the Rainbow Wildlife Rescue. The RWR holds all copyright interests in such material, unless specifically indicated. Permission to reprint is given with credit to the Rainbow Wildlife Rescue and noted authors.

Apr 20, 2010

Facts and Stats about Rabies

FAQs about Rabies in Erath County, Texas

1. What exactly is rabies?
Rabies is a contagious virus that can cause death in people and certain animals and is nearly always fatal if not treated in a timely manner.

2. How is rabies transmitted?
The rabies virus is usually transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal, most commonly through a bite. The virus can be transmitted from animal to animal, from animal to human, and on rare occasions, from human to human.

Another way of transmitting the virus, even though highly uncommon, is for saliva or brain tissue from a rabid animal to get directly into the eyes, nose, mouth or open wound of a person or animal.

However, contrary to common belief, you can’t get rabies from the blood, urine, or feces of an infected animal.

During my survey, I noted another misconception about rabies transmission. It is not true that an animal can be just a carrier of the rabies virus and transmit it to another animal or humans for weeks, months or even years.

According to the CDC, "No person in the United States has ever contracted rabies from a dog, cat or ferret held in quarantine for 10 days."

Before the rabies virus reaches the brain, the animal does not show any symptoms, according to the CDC. The animal does not appear ill during this time, called the incubation period, which may last for weeks or months. During this time period the animal CAN NOT transmit the virus to another animal or person. This is the reason why animals that have bitten a human are held in quarantine for 10 days.

As the CDC states, " Only late in the disease, after the virus has reached the brain and multiplied there to cause an encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) does the virus move from the brain to the salivary glands and saliva."

3. What animals are most likely to have rabies?
All mammals can get rabies. It is most common in un-vaccinated household pets such as dogs, cats and ferrets as well as in livestock such as cattle, and wild animals like skunks, bats, raccoons, coyotes and foxes.

Small animals like mice, rats, squirrels, and even opossums, are almost never found to be infected with rabies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bites by these animals are usually not considered a risk of rabies unless the animal was sick or behaving abnormally and rabies is a major problem in your vicinity.

4. How common is rabies in Erath County?
Officially confirmed rabies cases from 2000 until today include according to the Texas Department of State Health Services Infectious Disease Control Unit:

Year Rabies Cases Confirmed In Variant
2000 24 23 skunks, 1 cat Skunk
2001 27 27 skunks Skunk
2002 8 6 skunks, 1 goat, 1 horse Skunk
2003 10 8 skunks, 2 dogs Skunk
2004 4 2 skunks, 1 bat, 1 cattle Skunk, Bat
2005 5 3 skunks, 1 cat, 1 cattle Skunk
2006 2 1 skunk, 1 dog Skunk
2007 4 3 skunks, 1 cat Skunk
2008 6 3 skunks, 2 dogs, 1 raccoon Skunk
2009 5
3 skunks, 1 cat, 1 raccoon Skunk

All animals except 1 (the bat in 2004) contracted the virus from an infected skunk.

5. How can I tell if an animal has rabies?
The symptoms are not easily recognized because other diseases display similar symptoms. Pets infected with the rabies virus act in unusual ways. Be alert for changes in behavior. A dog that is friendly may avoid people. Mean dogs may act friendly to strangers. Animals may become aggressive, make strange noises or erratic movements, and attack other animals or humans. They may have trouble walking, drinking, swallowing, or chewing. It may not be able to close its mouth, and may appear to be choking. If you see an animal acting like this, call the local animal control agency right away.

6. What should I do if I had contact with a possibly rabid animal?
Prompt treatment is required to prevent a rabies infection. First, flush the bite or wound area with water for at least one full minute. Follow up by washing with soap (or detergent if soap is not immediately available) to remove saliva containing the virus. Then apply a disinfectant such as rubbing alcohol, bleach, or iodine tincture directly on the wound and under skin flaps to stop the rabies from being absorbed into the body tissue. Then get to your doctor or an emergency room as soon as possible.

7. How is rabies diagnosed in animals and humans?
A direct fluorescent antibody test (dFA) is used to test the brain tissue of animals suspected to be rabid. However, the dFA test can only be performed after the animal has died. For humans, several tests are required to diagnose rabies. Samples of body tissues and fluids - saliva, spinal fluid, serum, and hair follicles - are tested for signs of the rabies virus. Positive results from one test is not proof of rabies, all tests are required for diagnosis.

8. Can baby animals have rabies?
Babies born to a healthy rabies-free mother will be rabies free at birth. Babies born to a rabid mother will most likely have rabies, because it is exposed to the mother’s saliva. These babies will probably not survive long enough to go out into the world. Teach your children to never touch wildlife. Call the authorities or your local wildlife rehabilitator if you find a wild baby animal that seems to be orphaned and in need of human intervention.

9. How do I protect myself and my pets from rabies?

  • Have a veterinarian vaccinate your dogs and cats against rabies. By law, you need to do this every year, or every three years, depending on the type of vaccine used.
  • Keeping your pets vaccinated protects you and them.
  • Keep pets away from wildlife and don’t let them wander loose through the neighborhood.
  • Avoid contact with wild animals and with dogs and cats you do not know. Do not try to hand-feed wild animals and do not keep them as pets.
  • Do not touch sick or injured animals. Call and report them to the authorities.

10. How do I prevent the spread of rabies?

Be a responsible pet owner and have all your pets vaccinated once a year.

  • Keep your pets confined and supervised.
  • Spay or neuter your pets to prevent the spread of unwanted and unvaccinated animals straying through your neighborhood.
  • Enjoy wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, and foxes from afar. Do not handle, feed, or attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter. Do not leave pet food outside!
  • Do not rescue wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to raise orphaned wildlife. Call animal control or your local wildlife rehabilitator for assistance.

Provide your pets and livestock with rabies vaccine as advised by your family veterinarian. Keep rabies pet vaccines current.

Keep pets away from wildlife and don’t let them wander loose through the neighborhood.
Contact the proper authorities if you see an animal acting strangely. Never attempt to catch or touch the animal unless you are trained.

If your pet is bitten by an animal, call the animal authorities and take your pet to the vet.

If a person is bitten by an animal (whether it is from a wild skunk caught foraging in the trash or a nip on the hand from a neighbor’s pet), clean the wound thoroughly and go to your doctor or medical clinic for treatment. Contact the authorities who will try to capture the animal for testing or quarantine.

Keep contact information handy for notifying the proper authorities about a possible rabid animal in the neighborhood.

Information and research provided by Birgit Sommer, licensed wildlife rehabilitator in the State of Texas and Director of the Rainbow Wildlife Rescue.


Additional information:
When it comes to rabies, ignorance can kill. Not just you or your pets, but innocent and healthy wildlife. Raccoons are the number one wild animal killed for rabies testing. Dogs and cats top the list of domestic animals killed for rabies testing. In both these and other animals, the vast majority are found NOT to have rabies.

They must pay with their lives because people have possibly been exposed to rabies by them. If these same people had taken precautions against possible exposure to rabies, these animals would still be alive. Don't be responsible for the death of an innocent animal. Learn about rabies and learn how to protect yourself, your family, your pets and our wildlife.

Raccoon rabies is a strain of rabies carried mainly by raccoons. Raccoon rabies is rabies. It can be spread to farm animals, pets and people through the saliva of an infected animal in the same ways as other strains of rabies. Raccoon rabies kills raccoons, other animals and humans in the same way as other strains of rabies do. The only difference is that it is spread primarily by raccoons.

Apr 9, 2010

Rehabber Prayers

Rehabbers Prayer
by Susan Saliga

Give us strength today we pray,
And light our path along the way.
Lend our hands Your healing touch,
For wildones that need us much.
We ask for hope and courage too.
Help us know what’s best to do.
You’ve led them here into our care,
Please help us ease the pain they bear.
When weariness invades our souls,
And sleepless nights take their toll,
Bathe us with Your healing Light
And lift us gently with Your might.
Give us faith to set them free.
To earth and water, to sky and tree.
And if You call them back to stay,
Ease their passage home we pray

A Rehabbers Prayer
by Joan Holland

Heavenly Father I ask Thee
to guide my hands this day,
To carry the weak, heal the sick
I take home with me today

This little helpless creature
that depends on me for life
doesn't understand my feelings
as I stand in vigel hours
waiting for some sign of life

Grant me wisdom and mercy
as I do right by them today
oh, Lord firgive my lack of knowledge
I do the best I can, I pray

Thank you Lord, for this small life
I hold now in my hand,
that You will show him mercy
and allow him to survive.

Apr 6, 2010

Project Saving Stephenvilles Wildlife

I just got back from introducing project "Saving Stephenville's Wildlife" to the City Council. I hope it finds support and will go through the necessary channels to be approved. Frankly, it's a nobrainer...saves the city money and spares the lives of animals. I cannot find a single reason that would speak against my proposal.

This is what it is all about (and what I read to the city council):

While at the local animal shelter I have observed our Animal Control Officers bringing in traps with healthy adult raccoons and other wildlife, which are often needlessly euthanized.

Naturally, being licensed by the State to provide assistance to State owned wildlife, I started wondering if there is any way to save these animals without causing more work.

Due to facility restraints at the Rainbow Wildlife Rescue I am not capable of offering to take all these animals in, however, I have come up with a solution that I am confident will benefit all involved.

I am authorized to legally transport raccoons within 10 miles from where they were collected. We have ample and appropriate release sites that are carefully selected and within the legal limits. I am extremely diligent in matters of potential overcrowding and do not release more than 10 animals of each species at any given site per year.

Our plan is to install trail cams and microchip the relocated animals to assist in a State research project on relocation adjustment, as well as support the USDA sponsored TVR (trap-vaccinate-release) program. This will provide a further service in vaccinating wildlife against rabies and providing effective data.

To implement this effort the Rainbow Wildlife Rescue would allow the Animal Control Officers to drop off healthy trapped animals away from the public shelter at our Clifton Street facility, which is less than ½ mile from the shelter.

I will provide a secure enclosed area that's easily accessible to the officers where they will simply leave the animal remaining in the trap and take an empty trap back with them, which will also be provided.

I then will evaluate the animal and upon finding it suitable for release will proceed with the program as stated, or take the necessary steps to have the animal humanely euthanized.

This will save the city and the officers time, effort, supplies, money and completely prevent physical exposure, handling and euthanizing these animals while a the same time providing useful information to science and research.

I can accept raccoons, opossums, rabbits and squirrels for relocation. I will not accept skunks, foxes, bats, deer or coyotes.

I am looking forward to your support and am prepared to implement the simple steps needed to begin.

Feb 19, 2010

Wildlife Rehabilitation in America

Wildlife Rehabilitation in America

What is a wildlife rehabilitator?

A wildlife rehabilitator is a person licensed by their State to take in orphaned and injured wildlife for the general public, as required by the State. Orphaned baby animals will be raised properly and injured or ill critters are rehabilitated. Your main responsibility is to the animals you are caring for. The goal is to get these animals back into the wild where they are supposed to be, and want to be. That's what it is all about...the animals remaining wild. Wanting them to be pets is not what they want!

Documentary: Wildlife Rehabilitation in America Part 1

Working with wildlife is very different from working with domesticated pets. Where it's ok to hold an orphaned kitten or puppy to comfort it when it's missing it's mother, it's not ok to hold a cottontail rabbit for example, because it can die of fear in an instant.

Keeping handling and human exposure to a minimum is vital for the animals' survival in the wild later on.

How do you get the animals?

We receive calls from people like you who came across an animal that appeared to be in need of human intervention. We often receive animals from the local Animal Control Agencies, Game Wardens, Businesses, Police Departments, Sheriff Offices, Veterinary Clinics and Animal Shelters.

Why do animals end up with a wildlife rehabber and what kind?

Animals end up with a wildlife rehabilitator for various reasons. It can be a baby squirrel that fell out of a nest, usually after a storm, and found by school kids; a songbird that flew into a window and has a concussion and needs a safe place to recover; an opossum mother hit by a car with living babies in the pouch that caring individuals saved and brought to us; a baby raccoon sitting next to his dead mother on the side of the road crying; the litter of cottontail rabbits whose mother fell victim to a lawn mower or a wild animal hurt by our dogs and cats...the stories are endless.

Documentary: Wildlife Rehabilitation in America Part 2

What do you do with them?

In the case of infant critters where a re-union with the mother has been ruled out, they will be raised and taught how to relate to others of their species, given a chance to develop their survival skills, know what their predators are, and how to find food and shelter before they will be released back into the wild.

What about injured animals? Do you have medical training?

Even though wildlife rehabilitators have to go through training and study as much as possible, they are not veterinarians and have to seek professional medical assistance in case of an injured animal, such as an owl with a broken wing or a deer hit by a car with a leg fracture; a raccoon caught by a dog covered in bite wounds; a squirrel with bb gun pellets in its back...again, the stories are endless.

Unfortunately not every vet clinic is willing or capable of assisting wildlife rehabilitators with these animals for various reasons.

If the injuries are too severe, the only option left is to euthanize the animal to shorten their suffering.
If the injuries are not life threatening, we triage the animal, provide everything that goes along with healing the wounds and providing the proper care, nutrition and housing until the animal is ready to be returned to the wild.

What else does a wildlife rehabber do besides caring for wildlife?

Another important part of being a wildlife rehabilitator is dealing with the public. Once spring starts and the first animals of the season, usually squirrels, are being born, the calls are coming in about pink hairless babies found on the ground. There are a lot of caring folks out there that go the extra mile to help out that infant and take it to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator or wildlife facility.

A lot of people attempt to care for these animals on their own and only call us when they see that their approach didn't work. Sadly, at that point it is often too late for us to help.

Many folks proudly explain all the things they have done wrong, believing they did everything right, which doesn't make it necessarily easy to educate them without coming across as criticizing. Busting old wife's tales takes a lot of our time, that is why I am here now.

We often get calls from rude people that are trying to threaten or ridicule us, seem to enjoy grossing us out with the gory details of their hunting stories, or tell us they will kill the animal if we don't come right now and pick it up. Fact is that most of us home based rehabilitators can't just rush out and drive around to pick up animals.

Who will take care of the critters we already have? The focus has to be on the animals already there. We are happy to take in critters, but we are so grateful when people can bring them to us. We simply don't have the resources to do everything they expect us to do, but the majority of people that call want to help and don't mind the transporting the critter.

Can I make a lot of money being a wildlife rehabilitator?

Most wildlife rehabilitators these days are home based. We can't charge for anything we do because these are State owned animals, so we survive strictly on donations. If you are in this for the money you will be disappointed.

It's a life style, a passion and a commitment, and most rehabilitators front the bills out of their own pockets and don't get paid anything. Some things just can't be weighed in money...but knowing at the end of the day that you are doing the right thing is more rewarding than a fancy car to most of us.

Wildlife Rehabilitation used to be more of a hobby than a profession back in the days, but times and laws have progressed. The government requires us to be trained in order to obtain the necessary permits, provide proper facilities which are subject to inspection in most states, provide release sites, even pay for our own pre-exposure rabies shots.

Fortunately, more national and international organizations are working on research and studies benefiting our local wildlife, and offer rehabilitators extended training courses.

Some rehabilitators establish a wildlife center in their area, usually a nonprofit based organization because the government does not financially support wildlife rehabilitation. Yet. That's why there are not many independent wildlife facilities in America, most are connected to colleges or vet clinics, so paid jobs in this field are still hard to find.

How do I get a wildlife rehabilitation permit?

There are permits you have to obtain from your State for mammal rehabilitation. If you also want to rehabilitate birds, you will need a federal permit from the US Fish and Wildlife in addition to the State permit. That's for nearly all types of birds from songbirds to birds of prey.

Different agencies are responsible for issuing wildlife rehabilitation permits and requirements also vary from state to state. In some states the department of natural resources is in charge of wildlife rehab permits, in other states it's the parks and wildlife department or fish and wildlife commission. You will find direct links to each State's application on our website at www.wildlife-education.com .

In almost all states it is illegal to take an animal out of the wild and attempt to treat it on your own, no matter what your motives are. Even if you plan to release it later on back into the wild, it's most likely not going to happen if you don't know what you are doing.

Can everybody become a wildlife rehabilitator?

As a wildlife rehabber you have to be a very strong and determined person. There is a lot of frustration involved when dealing with the public and administrative side of this vocation. It's about hard work, long hours, no weekends or holidays and never enough money, and also a lot of emotional and heartbreaking cases where you have done everything you can but still can't save an animal.

All we can do then is to provide a warm, safe place for an animal to die. However, being able to work with wild animals that most people don't even get to see up close, to touch them safely, heal them, and see them be free again…that is a privilege to most rehabbers. Knowing they made a difference and got this animal back to where it belongs is worth all the efforts, expense, and even the heartaches.

How much does it cost?

In addition to the required permits you will need a lot of items ranging from inside cages and incubators to outside enclosures and habitats. You'll be using medical supplies, syringes, nipples, wound care supplies, bottles, feed, blankets, towels, educational material, different formulas for different species, bedding, building supplies, volunteers, fundraising skills, time for education, and not to forget your own family and social life. In other words, a LOT!

It really helps if you are good with basic business skills so you can be professional in what you do with the public, organize fundraising events and such.

Be proud

Some folks find the idea of wildlife rehabilitation ridiculous or claim it's "messing with nature". These folks neglect to see that most wildlife related calls that require our human intervention ARE the direct result of unnatural conditions such as careless behavior of people, toxins, poisons, automobiles, guns, traps, lawn mowers, to name just a few.

Often we are confronted with animals that have suffered traumatic wounds and horrific injuries. Some animals come in poisoned, shot, injured by cars and left for dead by humans. The stories and cases are endless and heartbreaking. THAT is called “messing with nature” and careless humans do it everyday, whether we mean to do harm or not.

We, as wildlife rehabilitators, are dedicated warriors on the front lines between suburban development and natural habitat and are grateful for every bit of support we can get. Thank you!

Feb 8, 2010

Raccoon Illegal Possession Survey

This survey will assist in determining approximately how many people raise raccoons and under what circumstances. Any information you can provide would be helpful. You may remain anonymous if you choose to do so. We simply need honest responses. To receive Wildlife Coalition newsletter please check the yes box.


Please everybody, fill this out. You will remain ANONYMOUS!