Sep 29, 2008

Rainbow Wildlife Rescue and the Community

Thanks to the generous people, students, stores, and organizations, we have managed to build the first enclosure and are ready to accept more squirrels! We are in the process of setting up the details.

Building Enclosures Building Enclosures

The Eagle Scouts will be building one, possibly 2 more enclosures next month, which will complete the main section of the Rainbow Wildlife Rescue.

All that is left is a Storage Shed and trash/storage bins for the different feed.

This allows me to apply for the federal migratory bird permit next year, so I can accept songbirds as well.

Special Thanks goes to:

  • The TSU Wildlife Society (especially Dani Meyers)
  • Barnes & McCollough for the lumber
  • Don and Jackie Wallace for the squirrel houses and all over support
  • Gerry Cockrell for the most generous donation
  • Northland Cable for the Channel 9 ad
  • Empire Tribune for their newspaper stories
  • Abilene Reporter for their newspaper stories
  • All the other generous friends and strangers that donated via the internet.

Sep 23, 2008

Rainbow Wildlife Rescue in the News

Here's the local article

Orphaned squirrels find refuge in Stephenville
Staff Writer
Published: Tuesday, September 23, 2008 10:07 AM CDT

When natural disasters strike, a mobilization of relief workers from various agencies such as the Red Cross, National Guard, and FEMA are ready to respond, bringing in food and water, working to restore power, and setting up temporary shelter to assist in returning the disaster zone and the lives of those within it back to normal.

Animal rescuers also play a vital role in rehabilitating disaster touched habitats. One local resident and licensed wildlife rescuer, Birgit Sommer, who operates Rainbow Wildlife Rescue in Stephenville, recently made a trip to the Metroplex to pick up 15 baby squirrels orphaned by Hurricane Ike.

Sommer said with the assistance of locals, she hopes to bring more homeless squirrels to the area.

“Hurricane Ike has left literally thousands of baby squirrels orphaned on the ground in Houston and in the surrounding areas,” Sommer said. “One wildlife rescuers alone received 730 infant squirrels!”

In the days following Ike’s destruction, Sommer said her phone has been ringing non-stop and e-mails began piling up, all from people looking for refuge for baby squirrels they had rescued. She said many of the people seeking help didn’t even have electricity to care for themselves and their families but they were still taking in the tiniest of hurricane victims.

While Sommer was only able to bring 15 squirrels home in her first round of aide, she hopes to bring more to her local sanctuary on East Clifton. She said when she picked up her tiny patients, she was told about 600 more were on their way to Dallas. The problem is that not just anyone can adopt a baby squirrel. You have to have a state wildlife rehabilitation permit, which Sommer does.

“With a little bit of help and effort I could take in twice or even three times as many,” Sommer said. “I just need more outside cages.”

Sommer said donations to her local rescue efforts have been scarce and since she does not get funding to support her cause, she needs help caring for her new furry friends.

Sommer said local organizations, including Ark Veterinary Hospital and the Girls Scouts have offered assistance in the past. She also said the Boy Scouts have offered to help.

“The Boys Scouts are planning a fund-raiser to help get the funds I need to build more enclosures,” Sommer said.

In addition, Sommer said members of Tarleton State University’s Student Wildlife Society have stepped up to help. The club organized a fund-raiser and also plans to visit local hardware and supply stores this week to see if local retailers have any materials they would be willing to donate for the cages. One member of the Wildlife Society, Danielle Meyers, who is majoring in wildlife management, said she and other members are working on a letter to distribute to managers of local supply companies to solicit donations.

How can you help? While taking in a few orphaned squirrels is only an option for licensed rescuers, Sommer said donations would go a long way in saving the baby squirrels. Monetary donations, as well as supplies, are needed.

Sommer said she is in need of materials to build outside enclosures, as well as a garden utility shed to store cages and food. The young orphans are fed milk replacers.

Materials used to construct outdoor enclosures include: 1/2 inch galvanized hardware cloth (most useful at the moment); 50 ft. privacy fence panels; concrete for cage foundations; 2 x 4’s and plywood for bottom frames and back walls. Or if you have unused cages such as large ferret type cages with enough room for squirrels to climb around in, they too would be appreciated.

Anyone interested in assisting with the effort is encouraged to contact Sommer at Rainbow Wildlife rescue at 968-4626 or you may send e-mail to

For more information on the Student Wildlife society, visit

Stephenville woman takes in 'squirrely' hurricane victims

By Angelia Joiner
Special to the Reporter-News
Monday, September 22, 2008
Photo by Angelia Joiner/Special

STEPHENVILLE -- Appropriately nicknamed "Miss Doolittle" when she was just 5 years old, Birgit Sommer is taking in orphans from Hurricane Ike.

Not the human kind. The small, furry kind.

Infant gray squirrels were found everywhere after Ike moved through the Houston area, blowing down their nests, and residents were desperate to help them.

Sommer, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, said before Ike had even moved out of the Gulf area, her phone began ringing off the wall and the e-mails started piling up. People were contacting her to see if she could help.

"These people were calling and they didn't even have electricity themselves and they wanted to help all the squirrels being found in their yards and around their homes," Sommer said. "I told them how to feed them and gave emergency instructions, but there weren't any stores open to get the food."

Sommer said she was then contacted by the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council and learned that more than 900 baby squirrels had been dropped off at the nonprofit Wildlife Rehab & Education in Houston. Some of the squirrels are being sent to animal rescue centers around Texas.

Last weekend, 175 of those animals were delivered to the McKinney SPCA of Texas, and Sommer was there to cart 15 little critters back home to Stephenville.

Two Tarleton State University Wildlife Society students, Randi Baldwin and Danielle Meyers, heard about the plight of the animals and offered to help. They collected $62 in donations at their school's football game last Saturday and will begin soliciting area businesses for donations and materials needed to build shelters for the squirrels.

Sommer said she could take 20 more babies if she just had the wire needed to enclose a metal frame a neighbor donated.

"I'm in desperate need of galvanized hardware cloth also called mesh wire," Sommer said. "I'm not allowed to use chicken wire or chain link type wire. What I need is about $140 a roll."

Just a bucket of Esbilac (milk replacer for puppies) is $50, and according to Sommer, it's just what a baby squirrel needs for nutrition.

The goal is to get the animals healthy enough that they can be released back into the wild in their native area.

Sommer also takes in all kinds of other needy animals and has just rehabilitated a young raccoon. She works closely with the Erath County Humane Society by taking in as many dogs and cats as she can and tries to find good homes for them. Sommer said animal control officers and police bring her animals they find injured or sick as well. Area residents also bring her animals.

Sommer grew up in Northwest Germany, and her parents didn't allow pets because they were allergic. But her grandfather, who lived next door, called her "Miss Doolittle" after a fictional doctor who could talk to animals because it appeared that strays followed her home from school. It wasn't unusual for a bird to light on her shoulder. She said all of the animals in Germany are taken care of because "it's so small with so many people.

She believes she's found her place in Stephenville.

"I'm trying to give back one little animal at a time to nature," Sommer said. "That's where they belong. There's a cycle -- we need them."

Donations are accepted at Sommer's Web site at or at (254) 968-4626.

Sep 21, 2008

15 orphaned Squirrels from Houston have arrived!

We picked up 15 infant orphaned grey squirrels from the SPCA of Texas in McKinney, TX, today. They expect 600 more babies in the very near future!

The Tarleton Wildlife Society and the Eagle Scouts are working both on fundraisers and getting together enough material to build new enclosures to house these baby squirrels. If the work pays off and we can build at least one more enclosure, I will accept more transfers at the Rainbow Wildlife Rescue.

The Channel 11 Dallas News was present when I picked up the squirrels and my hubby filmed them filming me. I don't know if they show me on the news or not yet. I also have not heard from the local newspaper back either:

And here are the 15 darlings:

Sep 20, 2008

Hurricane Ike's orphaned Squirrels are coming to the Rainbow Wildlife Rescue in Stephenville, Erath County, Texas

Hurricane Ike's orphaned Squirrels are coming to the Rainbow Wildlife Rescue in Stephenville, Erath County, Texas

The IWRC (International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council) put out a call for help to all wildlife rehabilitators to accept transfers of orphaned squirrels left behind in Houston and surroundings by hurricane Ike. Caring people found the squirrels and turned them over to the various wildife centers and animal shelters, which got so overwhelmed. One center alone received over 700 infants squirrels.

If I understood everything correctly, the rescue organizations are working together to transfer a load of squirrels up to the SPCA of Texas in McKinney, Texas.

I have volunteered to accept 15 squirrels for now. I will pick them up in McKinney on Sunday, September 21st at 11 am.

I could accept more later on if I had more outside enclosures. Thanks to the Tarleton Wildlife Society efforts of doing a fundraiser at tonight's Texan football game, we are off to a good start, but we are far from having a suitable enclosure up and read ty move squirrels into.

Material to build outside enclosures and/or aviaries as well as a garden utility shed to store cages and food.

  • 1/2 inch galvanized hardware cloth (most useful at the moment!)
  • 50 ft privacy fence panels
  • concrete for cage foundations
  • 2 x 4's and plywood for bottom frames and back walls
  • utility or garden shed for cages, supplies, and feed (right now the stuff takes up an entire room in my house which I could use as a nursery)
  • large ferret type cages with enough room for squirrels to climb around in
If you want to help with a donation, supplies, or just ideas, please CLICK HERE or EMAIL me!

Outside Enclosure (Example ONLY):


Sep 15, 2008

Hurricane Ike and orphaned Squirrels

In the past 2 days I am getting literally hammered with phone calls and emails from Houston. So many nice and caring people are contacting me about having found baby squirrels, most of them with eyes closed.

To make things even worse, many of the people that contacted me don't have electricity, so they have no means of keeping the babies warm. Stores and Vets are closed, so there is also no way of purchasing Esbilac somewhere.

So we are working with limited resources here. Most of the people found me via their PDAs, so I'm going to write down some emergency care instructions.

IF re-uniting with the mother doesn't work:

You hopefully know that cow's milk is a big No No. Why? Because the lactose will cause diarrhea which can lead to death fast in such fragile little babies due to dehydration.

For the first 24 hours you can simply feed the baby with the following solution:

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup of warm water.

Feed every 3-4 hours.

If the eyes are still closed, do not feed more than 2 cc (or 2 ml) at one time.
If you can not get a hold of a puppy or kitten milk replacer (preferably Esbilac Puppy Milk Replacer Powder), see if you find Ensure, preferably Vanilla flavor. It will work for a few days.

Other TEMPORARY Options:

  • lactose-free milk
  • skimmed milk
  • goat's milk
  • lactose-free baby formula
  • oatmeal
Evaporated (canned) milk is NOT recommended!

If the eyes are open you can also offer

  • nuts (unsalted and untreated)
  • acorns
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • any baby jar foods with fruits and veggies
  • baby cereal
  • Cheerios
  • Cornflakes (stay away from sugar)
  • oatmeal
  • rolled oats
  • anything rice, grain or wheat based

Do NOT feed cat or dog food, meats, spicy foods, or any canned foods meant for humans.

How to feed:

Eyedropper or Syringe (without the needle!).
Baby squirrels like to suckly hard and often get formula down the wrong pipe and it shoots out of their noses. This is called aspirating and can easily result in fatal pneumonia, so we do not want that to happen.

Therefore only feed tiny amounts at a time. Squirrels also suckle eagerly and like to swallow half the eyedropper. That is normal! I usually use a special made extra long nipple that fits on a syringe, so they can't get hurt.

Here is a link to a Video on HOW TO FEED A BABY SQUIRREL

Keeping the Baby warm:

Fill an old sock with rice (just the foot of the sock), tie a knot on top and place it in the microwave for 2 minutes. Wrap an old t-shirt around the sock and you have 2-4 hours of snuggly heat for the baby.

You can also use old bottles and fill them with warm water and place them around the baby.

If you have electricity and can use a heating pad, make sure the baby has enough room to crawl off it in case it gets too warm.

Peeing and Pooping

If the eyes are still closed the baby needs to be stimulated to go pee and poo. Simply use a papertowel or piece of toiletpaper and moisten it with warm water and pad the bottom. If it's there, it'll come out. If not, it'll work next time.

I hope I covered everything in this short time.

Sep 11, 2008

Chip the raccoon, 9 weeks old

Chip needed to be moved into a bigger cat. He is 9 weeks old now and has outgrown the other smaller cages I have!

He hasn't met Roxy yet, she's sleeping all day and was not interested in interacting with me, which is perfectly fine by me. This way she will turn on her "wild switch" much sooner, I believe.

He's having 2 stories of this cage to climb in now, he loves it!

Sep 5, 2008

Olliver, Great Dane, is up for Adoption

Yes, you are seeing correctly. This was one of the hardest decisions I had to make in a long time, but I have to declare myself defeated. I simply do not have the time that dog needs to become a balanced part of the pack.

Due to lack of exercise and daily walks, he has turned into a bully. He is not aggressive, but he has no respect for smaller dogs or people. He simply steps on them or runs them over or treats them like toys. And he does kill chickens and squirrels and skunks and whatever else he could get his teeth on.

He needs somebody to work with him. He is so intelligent, but without the constant assertiveness and stability, he is going to backfire.

So I made it a requirement for people that are interested in adopting him, that they have to do it Cesar's style.

Here's his petfinder url:

We'll see what comes out of it. I'll leave it up for a month. If it's meant to be, the right owner will show at the right time, just like with Honey and with Grandma (she went off to New Mexico today!!!!).

If not, we'll work something out.

Sep 3, 2008

Six Squirrels

I have six squirrels at the moment from 3 different litters. 2 came yesterday. They are all outside and starting to eat solids, except the 2 new ones. They need another week or so before they are there.

Here are a couple of pics of the 4 older ones I have since they had their eyes closed:

Chip the raccoon, developed ringworm on his tail, so he's being treated for that and Chuck, the opossum is growing fast too.

Besides the wildlife I have two 2 weeks old kittens and 2 foster dogs. It's starting to quiet down a little. Time to shift the focus on building this rescue, so we are prepared for more critters in need by spring!

No Justice for Animal Cruelty

This morning I was told that Animal Control nor the Police is doing anything about the dead puppies or about the still suffering mother dog. Animal Cruelty does not seem to be a crime worth bothering with here. This is not over yet.

Sep 1, 2008

Yard of Horrors

Unbelievable what happened on Sunday.

It started out with my neighbor coming home from church and running over a kitten with her car (a stray). I cleaned it up for her and disposed of the dead body at the shelter. They have a disposal place I can use even when they are closed.

Before that I was happy to have been able to find homes for 2 of the dogs I have up on petfinder for the shelter, so I thought the Sunday started out pretty good.

But after the cat incident, my neighbor comes over and tells me that another neighbor's puppies are dead, or at least some of them, the others were in the process of dying. I went over there, and sure enough, dead dogs everywhere.

The owners had moved away and left the dogs to random juveniles that appeared to live there off an on. We had fed the 8 puppies (3 months old) plus mom, who's a pitbull. That's why we never called Animal Control on them, because we knew that pitbulls will be euthanized at the shelter, no matter what. It's their policy.

So we kept feeding the dogs and deworming them and thought they were healthy looking fat pups. 3 days ago one was dead and we thought the mother had killed it, because they are weaned now and won't leave her alone and she had no place to get away.

So the teenager that lived there put the mom, into another pen finally and this morning, the pups started to drop dead one after the other, foaming at the mouth.

So I called the cops. I knew Animal Control wasn't on today, but this had to be addressed ASAP. 4 puppies barely alive and suffering, the others were already bloating and crawling with ants and maggots. The one that had died 2 days prior was half dug up and about to explode.

So you can imagine that smell.

Anyways, so I called the cops and the dispatcher refused to even talk to a cop, just told me she can leave Animal Control a note, he'll be back on Wednesday. My jaw dropped!

I asked her again to make sure I understood correctly "you want me to leave these dead dogs in the heat and watch the other remaining dogs suffer and die, until Wednesday? 2 more days?".

She said "Yes, but I can leave the ACO a note." Just kept repeating that. Outrageous!!!

Not only are TWO city ordinances violated here, (you find them at the end of this post) but I believe that animal cruelty is a crime in itself. Well, wrong address!!! I don't give up when there are animals suffering, that is not an option.

I hung up, alarmed my neighbors and they called too. Of course then she couldn't ignore it anymore and finally contacted a Sergeant about it.

He came out and talked to us and was horrified when we saw that yard.

I took pictures. They are graphic:

Click on the Thumbnails below

The cop was very nice and tried to figure out what to do. He tried to reach our ACO without luck. I offered my help, since I am vaccinated against rabies and know how to handle this, so he ended up talking to a Vet to make sure we are not dealing with rabies (which we didn't, it's Parvo I'm sure), and then, under his supervision and authority, I cleaned up the carcasses and took them to the disposal at the shelter.

That still leaves 4 puppies and the mother, who has the onset of mange on top of everything. As soon as the next puppy dies, we are asked to freeze it if we can (my neighbor can) and take it the shelter in the morning to have a piece of the brain sent in for rabies testing, just in case.

Monday Update

3 more pups died over night, one was barely alive this morning. We took them all to the shelter and they are pretty certain that it's not parvo but hookworms! I de-wormed them 2 weeks ago..I saw roundworms crawling out of them after they died too. So much for the over the counter de-wormers.

Mom is still there, with the onset of mange. I'm waiting for her to get out of the yard, so I can capture and take her to the shelter. Seizing her from a private property is so complicated, but she got out every day so I'm waiting.

Here are the City Ordinances that were violated, if not even Texas State Law:

No owner will fail to provide an animal in his/her care with sufficient good and wholesome food or water, adequate shelter and protection from weather, veterinary care when needed to prevent suffering and humane care and treatment. Shelter shall be of sufficient size to allow each animal to stand up, lie down and turn around in a natural position and must have three sides, a roof and a floor.
(`75 Code, § 3-21) (Ord. 1997-8, passed 7-1-98; Am. Ord. 1998-24, passed 11-17-9 Penalty, see § 10.99

In this section, "abandon" means to leave an animal in any place without providing reasonable and necessary care for the animal, under circumstances under which no reasonable, similarly situated person would leave an animal. Reasonable and necessary care means shelter, food, and water.

A person commits an offense if, having custody, care, or control of an animal, he intentionally abandons the animal in any place under circumstances that expose the animal to an unreasonable risk of harm.

An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

Wednesday Update


This morning I was told that Animal Control nor the Police is doing anything about the dead puppies or about the still suffering mother dog. Animal Cruelty does not seem to be a crime worth bothering with here. They didn't even go out to have a look. I regret that I went through this horror cleaning up the bodies and doing their job for not even so much as a thank you.

But I had to pay a 155 Dollar fine last year because I had an orphaned squirrel baby I was try to help without a permit AND was barred for a year from obtaining my wildlife permit. What is wrong without laws??????

This is not over yet!