Feb 20, 2009

Trinity is home after hip surgery

I just picked up Trinity from the vet a day after her hip surgery. Read more about it here!
Thanks to a fundraiser we were able to get her the best care. Thank you to everybody who got involved!!!

Feb 18, 2009

Trinity one day before the Surgery Video

Rainbow Wildlife Rescue in the News

Abilene Reporter News: http://www.reporternews.com/news/2009/feb/17/leave-the-mothering-to-nature/
Empire Tribune (FREE subscription only): http://www.empiretribune.com/articles/2009/02/17/news/doc499979185e5e6763148526.txt

Leave the mothering to nature

Experts say young animals who appear to be abandoned often are in parents' care

Courtesy photo Opossums being cared for by Erath County wildlife rehabilitator Birgit Sommer.

Courtesy photo Opossums being cared for by Erath County wildlife rehabilitator Birgit Sommer.

Courtesy photo An opossum being cared for by Erath County wildlife rehabilitator Birgit Sommer.

Courtesy photo An opossum being cared for by Erath County wildlife rehabilitator Birgit Sommer.

Courtesy photo Birgit Sommer, a wildlife rehabilitator in Erath County, says she also cares for domesticated animals.

Courtesy photo Birgit Sommer, a wildlife rehabilitator in Erath County, says she also cares for domesticated animals.

Spring is just around the corner, and as the new season arrives so do the offspring of a variety of wildlife.

Kindhearted humans sometimes find -- and try to take in -- young birds, squirrels, fawns or rabbits that appear to be abandoned.

Roy Johnson, Taylor County game warden, said most of the time this is not the case.

"Mother Nature has a way of taking care if itself," Johnson said. "If you see a fawn, I promise you the mama has not abandoned it. She will come back and take care of it."

He said the same is true for other animals.

Johnson said the exception is when someone sees a dead mother. The fawn will not leave it, and in that case, the fawn should be taken to a licensed rehabilitator -- but those are hard to find.

"There are no rehabilitators in Abilene. The closest is Breckenridge or Baird," Johnson said. "I've encouraged four people to get a license, but they don't follow through because it is extremely difficult to obtain and it's at their own expense."

Johnson said to find someone in the area, go to www.tpwd.state.tx.us -- but be prepared to drive to them or to meet them somewhere.

Sometimes, he said, fawns can be seen lying on or near the road. To keep them from being injured, they can be moved and placed over a fence.

"It's a rumor that a deer won't come back to its baby once it's been touched by humans," Johnson said. "That's not true."

Birgit Sommer, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator in Erath County, said the same is true for most animals. The human touch myth is "just an old wives' tale." And if a baby is found, it's best to try and reunite with the mother if possible.

Sommer specializes in caring for squirrels, but also cares for other wild critters and all kinds of domesticated animals.

She said February is the time of year when young squirrels are often knocked out of their nests. The best policy she said is to place the baby squirrel in a shoe box at the base of the tree where it was found. Because they chill easily, a plastic bottle can be filled with warm water and wrapped in a T-shirt to keep the young animal warm. Sommer said to avoid using terry cloth in the box because the tiny claws will become snagged.

If the baby squirrel could be in danger from predators, such as dogs, tie a basket to the tree.

Most likely, the mother will come back for her offspring if she feels safe to do so; it is best to observe from a distance.

It's a different matter for baby squirrels found during the evening hours.

"Squirrel mothers will not come back at night, so try putting it out first thing in the morning," Sommer said.

Squirrel feeding is difficult, so it's best to take the young to a trained professional because they aspirate easily, she said.

Sommer also has raised opossums successfully. She noted that opossums often are often struck and killed by automobiles.

She said that if an animal is hit, it's good to check the pouch for surviving babies.

"These are the only marsupials in North America and often times, the infants will still be alive -- protected by the pouch," Sommer said. "And they are not known to carry rabies, either."

Baby birds

Young birds are commonly found on the ground, she said.

"Fledglings may look like they are unable to be on their own, but the parents are still caring for these fledglings and keep track of where they are. So the baby bird you see may be a fledgling that is being taken care of by its parents still."

Sommer said that if the bird is not fully feathered, the best thing to do is to put it back into the nest.

"A baby bird might need to eat every 20 minutes in daylight hours depending on its age and species," Sommer said. "The parents can take care of it so much better than you can."

Sommer cautions that if people find wild baby bunnies during the day, "leave them alone." Many folks think they have been abandoned and most times they have not, she said.

Rabbits don't feed their young very often and usually only nurse for about five minutes a day, returning to the nest only once or twice in a 24-hour period.

"If the babies' bellies look plump, then they've been fed," Sommer said. "If a nest has been destroyed, you can rebuild it within 10 feet of its original spot."

Sommer said that if you know for certain that the mother rabbit is dead, locate a rehabilitator because infant rabbits have a high mortality rate, especially cottontails.

Following the law

Johnson, the game warden, said it is against the law to keep any live game animal and that should be considered when someone is contemplating keeping a baby animal they've found.

Before she gained her license, Sommer said, the Erath County game warden fined her $150 for caring for baby squirrels and the action prevented her from obtaining the license for one year.

She said the licensing process is incredibly difficult and because of the expense of buying formula and building shelters, etc., she believes this is why there are so few licensed rehabilitators.

For more information on animals or guidance in acquiring a license, contact Sommer at www.rainbowwildlife.com.

Feb 16, 2009

Found a Baby Squirrel? Here is Help!

One woman’s mission, one baby squirrel at a time

Special Contributor to the Empire Tribune
Published: Monday, February 16, 2009 8:58 AM CST
Some folks in Erath County may call her a nut, but when it comes to squirrel rescue, Birgit Sommer knows her stuff. As a licensed rehabilitator and founder of Rainbow Wildlife Rescue in Stephenville, Sommer has worked with dozens of squirrels endangered by natural disaster, injury or who have become separated from their parents.

“There are many key mistakes that people make when trying to rescue a baby squirrel and I want to help set the record straight,” Sommer said. “Although these tiny babies are adorable, they are not domesticated and do not make good pets. As a matter of fact, it is a Class C Misdemeanor in the State of Texas to possess a squirrel without the necessary permits.”

She described a typical scenario: A pile of leaves, crushed by February’s gusty winds and winter frosts, suddenly becomes a temporary home for a fluffy baby squirrel that has fallen from its nest and lies still in wait for its mother to find it. Slowly the baby starts getting chilled and with mom nowhere in sight, the chances for this baby’s survival without proper human intervention are slim.

Sommer suggests some useful advice when dealing with this type of scenario.

First, attempt to reunite the baby with the mom. If you think the mother squirrel may still be in the area and you have a good idea where the nest is located, first, give the mother the opportunity to retrieve the baby or babies.

Sommer cautioned that baby squirrels cannot only carry parasites such as fleas and lice, but they can also bite if they are old enough to have teeth, so they should never be handled without gloves.

Place the infant squirrel in a small box on an old T-shirt (no terry cloth where the little toenails can get hung up) at the base of the tree where it was first found. If there are dogs in the area, place the baby in a basket and tie the basket to the tree out of the dogs’ reach.

If the baby appears healthy and warm, allow 2 hours for the mother to reunite with her young while you observe from a safe distance. Even on hot summer days baby squirrels can get chilled quickly. A soda bottle filled with lukewarm water and covered with a sock can be placed near the baby. Make sure it can’t roll onto the baby and suffocate it by placing old shirts or rags around it, she suggested.

What happens when the mother does not return for her young or if the baby is visibly injured?

Bring the box containing the baby inside and place it in a dark, warm and quiet place away from children, pets, and loud noises. Limit handling the baby to the absolute minimum and contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator immediately. Veterinarians will not treat wildlife but usually will refer you to a local rehabilitator instead. Sommer explained she receives regular referrals from area vets.

In her experience, dehydration is very common when animals first arrive, and almost every orphaned baby is dehydrated to some degree. Unflavored Pedialyte, found in the baby aisle of the supermarket, is the best hydrating solution. Homemade rehydration fluid is made by combining 1 teaspoon salt with 3 tablespoons sugar in 1 quart of warm water. Microwaving the fluid is not advised.

Administer the fluid orally with a small 1-cc syringe or a rubber nipple if available. A syringe larger than 3-cc increases the risk of aspirating and drowning the squirrel baby, she explained.

Holding the baby in an upright position for feeding and rehydrating (never on its back), she feeds the baby 1-cc or ml of the hydrating solution every two hours, for up to 12 hours if necessary.

Sommer noted a few important safety tips to be observed when feeding squirrels in this way. Liquid coming out of the nose, indicating that the fluids have entered the lungs, could endanger a nursing baby squirrel. If this occurs, stop feeding immediately and allow the baby to clear its lungs by encouraging it to sneeze, because pneumonia will set in if the fluid is not expelled.

She also advised to never feed cow’s milk to a squirrel baby. Most baby animals, wild or domesticated, can’t handle the lactose in cow’s milk and develop diarrhea as a result. Most animals in need of human care are already in a compromised health condition and many won’t be able to survive additional digestive problems.

In addition to rehydrating a squirrel baby, it needs to be kept warm. No matter what heating source you use, make sure you give the baby enough room to get away from the heat. Always use the lowest setting of an electric heating pad.

“If you come across a squirrel with common ailments such as external parasites, visible injuries or obviously sick, it is critical that you speak with a rehabilitator immediately,” Sommer emphasized.

For animal rescue emergencies in Stephenville and Erath County, contact Birgit Sommer at the Rainbow Wildlife Rescue at 254-968-4626 from 8 a.m.- 8 p.m.

The Rainbow Wildlife Rescue is a non-profit organization working with local animals, wild and domestic alike, and is funded entirely by donations of food, supplies, and contributions from the public.

For additional information on how to deal with orphaned wildlife, or to find licensed wildlife rehabilitators outside of Erath County, please visit www.rainbowwildlife.com or www.squirrel-rescue.com or e-mail help@rainbowwildlife.com.

Source: http://www.empiretribune.com/articles/2009/02/16/news/doc499979185e5e6763148526.txt

Feb 12, 2009

Toxic and Poisonous for Pets

Chocolate, fruit and nuts may sound like tasty delights to you, but these foods can be downright deadly to our four-legged friends. In 2008, the ASPCA handled 140,000 animal poison related emergencies. It's often pet owners who unwittingly poison their pets by giving them foods and drinks they can't tolerate. To help you protect your furry friends, we tapped Fiona Fisher, D.V.M, veterinary expert at JustAnswer.com, who practices in Ontario, for her roundup of common household foods and items that pose a threat to your beloved pets. Avoid these common toxins to keep your dogs and cats live long, healthy lives.

Grapes and Raisins
Healthy for you? Yes. Healthy for pets? No. In dogs and cats, grapes can cause kidney failure. "We're not exactly sure why grapes pose a health hazard to pets," says Fisher, but experts suspect it has something to do with a chemical in the fruit's skin. Raisins are even more dangerous because they contain a concentrated supply of toxins. Keep this snack out of the reach of your pets.

Bread Dough
"I see this one a lot when people make bread, leave it to rise, and come back to find their dog has helped himself to a serving," Fisher says. What's the harm? The dog's body heat will cause the dough to expand quickly resulting in severe abdominal pain and bloating. In some cases, death can occur if enough dough is eaten.

Chewing Gum
A dog might be attracted to the sweet-smelling gum that your kids are chewing or that's tucked away in your bag. But the artificial sweetener, xylitol, in many types of gum and breath mints, can be deadly to pets. The sweetener can cause a low-blood sugar crisis in your pet. In fact, just one pack of gum can kill a dog, warns Fisher.

Macadamia Nuts
Careful where you keep that bowl of mixed nuts. If they're on a low table that your dog can reach, your pup might get into trouble. Ingesting these nuts can cause tremors, weakness, unsteadiness, depression, a rapid heart rate, and a dangerous rise in body temperature that can lead to other complications. Though macadamia nut toxicity is very scary and dangerous, most dogs recover within a few days, says Fisher.

It may seem unlikely that a dog would eat cigarettes, but those nosy, little creatures will gobble them without a second thought. Nicotine is highly toxic so it doesn't take much to cause a health crisis for your pet, including seizures, coma and death.

Who doesn't find chocolate irresistible? But when it comes to dogs, chocolate is one deadly treat. Caffeine-like stimulants in chocolate known as methylxanthines can produce vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death, cautions Fisher.

"This type of poisoning happens a lot after people throw a party and their dog or cat gets into a glass alcohol sitting around or that's spilled on the floor. Sometimes, children will think it's funny to give a dog some beer," Fisher says. And while animals may experience some of the same wobbliness and weakness that humans do after drinking, they are much more sensitive to alcohol than humans and can quickly be in a life-threatening situation, she says. Alcohol ingestion can lead to seizures, heart arythmia, vomiting, coma and death.

Pain Relievers
According to Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), the number one insurance claim by far for poisonings in 2007 was owner-induced. In most cases, the problems were caused by pet owners giving their pets drugs intended for human use. "Sometimes when the vet's office is closed and a pet is in pain, people will administer over-the-counter pain relievers like iburprofen or acetaminophen to their dogs," Fisher says. Never give your pets these types of drugs, warns Fisher. One tablet of acetaminophen can kill a cat, she says.

Ever had your cat poke its head into your cup of tea? It's not just annoying, it can be downright dangerous depending on the type of tea you're drinking. Caffeine in your tea is toxic to both cats and dogs. Depending on how much is consumed and the size of your pet, ingesting it can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, seizures, coma and even death.

You'd probably never consider giving your dog a piece of an onion, but if you toss her a piece of steak or a bit of stir fry cooked with onions, you're putting your dog in danger. Onions are toxic to dogs and cats whether they're raw or cooked. When ingested, onions can cause hemolytic anemia, a condition that destroys the red blood cells in the bloodstream. A dog with onion poisoning may become lethargic and have difficulty breathing. Generally, a large amount of onions would need to be consumed to pose a serious threat to your dog, but cats are highly sensitive to onion toxicity.

Feb 3, 2009

Stephenville Dog Park Blog

Animal Cruelty-What Can I Do?

Posted January 28th, 2009 by Alex

An 18th-century German philosopher from the Prussian city of Konigsberg once said, “He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.” Immanuel Kant is to this day regarded as one of the most influential thinkers of modern Europe and when I came across this well put quote the wheels began to turn in my brain and tug at my heart strings.

In preparing for the Dog Park proposal that Birgit and I took before the City Council on Jan 13th, I visited a ton of websites devoted to pets and animal laws and their legal rights as well. From a link on one site I came across www.pet-abuse.com that lists animal abuse case within 100+ miles of your zip code, but please head my warning: the details are incredibly graphic and disturbing. I was heartbroken so some people may not want to read the cases—part of me wished that I hadn’t honestly. Every case I opened was worse than the last and I was mortified. How can a human being hurt a defenseless animal?

When I first stepped foot into the Erath County Humane Society a few months back, I had stopped in just to take my two year old daughter to look at the animals. I chatted with Judy, the animal “savior” of the facility and I really felt bad for some of the sweet little animals that were there some of whom had been abandoned by reckless owners and others were caught in traps strayed or orphaned, struggling to grow up and all lonely for the love and affection only a real family can give to them. Judy and her grandson have devoted themselves entirely to their cause working 365 days a year without the financially rewards that they should be receive.

The moment I walked out the door I wanted to know what I could do to help. On my next visit to the Shelter I brought a couple of gallons of bleach which is always one of the main necessities of the shelter because it helps disinfect and keep the kennels disease free and as clean as a place like that possibly could be. The bleach is always at the top of the “Wish List” and if you would like to do something nice that isn’t a big hit to your wallet, you can always get a couple of gallon jugs from the Dollar Store and drop them off any time. If you do so and the shelter is not open at that time you can set them over the fence and they will be taken in by the Animal Control Officer when he stops by later. Anyways~ She told me some stories about her recent successful adoptions and foster families but also some sad tales of how some of the puppies in the back fenced in part of the property had come to be shelter residents. A woman had stopped in her car by the side of the road when she noticed a black trash bag moving in the middle of the street. She tugged the bag open to find four puppies left for dead.

How can someone be so sick and heartless? When I think puppies, I think of fuzzy little warm bodies wagging their tails in excitement from any affection, the smell of sweet puppy breath, soft little bellies and lovable eyes looking at you like you hung the moon. Most people would not throw out their garbage on the highway partly out of obligation to abide by the law, partly for respect for their city roads but mainly from simple common sense!

This all has me thinking: Where do I stand in my views on animal rights? Of course I HATE the idea that anyone would intentionally cause an animal pain, but I am nowhere near being a “tree huggin’ hippie” as my husband so graciously refers to it. How far will I take this? I am a good ol’ Texas girl who loves the smell of a juicy steak cooking on the grill. Half of my freezer is stocked with elk, antelope and wild boar meat; kills from my father’s many hunts which he goes on so that we have tons of meat. So no jumping on the PETA bandwagon for me. (A funny side note on that though- PETA’s most recent efforts to protect animals has now stretched to include the slimy scaley fish as well and they are attempting to rename them “sea kittens” so that people will feel guilty ordering the fish of the day AKA “sea kitten of the day. To me that is totally over the top and ridiculous.

When a hunter covers himself in deer urine and steps into his heated deer blind with some 40 caliber semi-automatic weapon that is better suited bringing down Al Queda Leaders than the year old deer eating from the strategically placed corn feeder, that aint cool to me!

I have a rescued Chihuahua French Bulldog mix from San Francisco, 2 rescue cats both from Stephenville, 2 “feeder fish” that have somehow or other outlived any other fancy expensive breed of fish I’ve ever purchased, 17 adopted goats and a donkey that watches over us all. My husband, daughter and myself love our modest property and our extended “family” of animals that will soon be expanding to include 6+ chickens.

I will continue to work in the right direction- it’s all I can do. This dog park is important to me because with the state of the economy, people are having to work more and more to make ends meet which does leave a lot of dogs stuck inside all day or in the yard with no outlet for built up energy who after a while can start to act out up chewing favorite shoes or scratching up the doors for attention. If some of that energy can be burned up in a healthy way by playing with other dogs in a safe environment and running until their hearts are content then I truly believe there will be many fewer cases of dog abuse or animals jumping or digging out of fences. Plus, the shelter can use the dog park as a place to showcase their adoptable dogs to help unite responsible owners with the perfect, loving animal for them. So, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Rachael Ray’s Nutrish

Posted January 29th, 2009 by Alex

In July 2008, famed Food Network chef Rachael Ray created Nutrish Pet Foods, a line of natural dog foods modeled after her own healthy recipes that she put together for her beloved pit bull Isaboo. A line of products for cats is also scheduled to be launched sometime this year. All proceeds from the sale of these products go to Rachael’s Rescue, a charity founded by Ray for at-risk animals.

Heartbroken by the thought of the millions of mistreated and abandoned animals taken in by shelters each year, Rachael Ray has created the Rachael’s Rescue website to highlight organizations that are dedicated to helping animals in need. Below are some of Rachel’s favorite organizations:

North Shore Animal League America

The largest no-kill animal adoption
and rescue organization in the world

Since 1944, The League’s mission has been to save the lives of pets through adoption, rescue, spay/neuter and advocacy initiatives. Every year, the League reaches across the country to rescue, nurture and adopt nearly 20,000 pets into happy and loving homes. To date, the League has placed close to 1 million puppies, kittens, cats and dogs into carefully screened homes. One of the first animal rescue agencies on the ground in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the League rescued more than 1400 pets from the region.

Check out their website


Securing the future of the American Pit Bull
Terrier as a cherished family companion

The Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pitbulls (BAD RAP) is a small and active nonprofit organization of pit bull owners, trainers, educators, rescuers and supporters. BAD RAP evolved out of a desire to respond to the difficult issues facing this misunderstood breed.

Check out their website


The ASPCA was founded in 1866 as the first humane organization in the Western Hemisphere. The Society was formed to alleviate the injustices animals faced then, and we continue to battle cruelty today. Whether it’s saving a pet who has been accidentally poisoned, fighting to pass humane laws, rescuing animals from abuse or sharing resources with shelters across the country, we work toward the day in which no animal will live in pain or fear. Come and join us in the fight to end animal cruelty – become an ASPCA Member today!

Check out their website