Food-Powdered Kitten, Puppy, and Goat Milk
Bowls-Any size but only Stainless Steele
Cages-Any and All. For Example, Wire Pop-Ups, Plastic Carriers, Home-Made Cages, Dog Houses, Etc.
Bedding-Cedar Chips, Pine Bedding, Straw Bales, Blankets, Towels, Wash-Rags, Pre-Made Nests, Etc.
Veterinarian Care and Medications-Monetary Donations can be dropped off to Edgewood Animal Hospital in Cedar Rapids. Edgewood Animal Hospital is the only Veterinarian who sees our Wildlife.
Flea Treatment/Preventative-We Only Use Frontline Products and Capstar. We will not use any other products.
Stuffed Animals-Any Size and Any Type. We do ask that they are clean but can be used.
Syringes and Eye Droppers-Any Size. Can be used but they need to be clean.
If you have found a wild animal that is truly in crisis, you may be facing a dilemma. Of course, you want to do what’s best for the animal, but you may find it difficult to turn him or her over to a wildlife rehabilitator. Letting go can be hard, especially when the animal is a baby. The temptation to care for the baby yourself may be strong. And having eager young children in the house begging to raise the animal does not make the decision any easier. So why can’t you keep the animal?
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 at least on special permit. Most cities and many counties have local ordinances that prevent individuals from keeping wild animals in captivity. Many neighborhood associations or covenants also prohibit keeping wildlife within property boundaries.
More importantly, wild animals deserve the best possible care. Providing the proper care is challenging because each species has specialized needs. Orphans need special diets and formulas to grow strong and healthy. They also must learn survival skills, including how to recognize and find food, how to escape predators, and how and where to make a nest, den, or burrow before being released back into the wild. Young animals need to be raised in the company of their own kind for proper behavioral development. Infections, parasites, and injuries are common and difficult to detect and treat in wild animals.
There is also the welfare of your own family to consider. Wild animals can be dangerous, especially when frightened or injured. Wildlife diseases, such as distemper, may pose a threat to companion animals, while others, including rabies and tularemia, can be transmitted to humans.
Most people who want to care for a wild animal themselves plan to release the animal once it is grown or has recovered from its injuries. That is the goal of wildlife rehabilitation, but rehabilitators have an advantage when they return their patients to the wild—they have years of experience in letting go, both physically and emotionally. Knowing what the animal needs to survive in the wild, knowing when the animal is ready to be on its own, and learning to avoid becoming too attached to a patient are important parts of becoming a good wildlife rehabilitator.
If you are tempted to care for a wild animal on your own, please ask yourself these questions first:
What is the best thing I can do for this animal?
If I’m having a hard time letting go of the animal now, how will I feel after I’ve really grown attached?
Am I prepared to deal with the legal and financial consequences of keeping a wild animal illegally? How will I feel if the animal is discovered, confiscated, and possibly euthanized?
Am I prepared to deal with the health consequences of someone being bitten or scratched, my pets or house becoming infested with parasites, a person or pet catching a disease, or just simple allergic reactions?
Can I be certain that, once I’ve released the animal back to the wild, it is capable of surviving on its own? Am I providing the best possible chance of survival?
How will my family and I feel if the animal dies in our care or is permanently impaired by my improper care?
Turning the animal over to a licensed/permitted wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible is the best way to safeguard human and pet safety while providing the wild animal with the best chance of survival. Call a wildlife rehabilitator right away for advice and answers to your questions.
How can I get involved?
Few people are paid to do wildlife rehabilitation—it is primarily a labor of love. Many home-based rehabilitators have full or part-time jobs in addition to their rehabilitation duties. Even those who work in cooperation with wildlife centers ten to cover at least some of the associated costs out of their own pockets. Wildlife canters are nearly always nonprofit organizations, and while there may be a few paid staff members, volunteers and home-based rehabilitators perform much of the work.
Volunteering either at a center or with a home-based wildlife rehabilitator is a wonderful way to learn about the profession. Hands-on rehabilitation is not the only way you can help wildlife in need. There are many other jobs associated with running a center that are available to volunteers, including records keeping, fundraising, construction, and public education. Answering telephone calls from the public is another of the hundreds of tasks to be done.
Finally, one of the most important ways to support wildlife is by making a generous donation of money or supplies.
What is the difference between Center-based and Home-based rehabilitators?
Some wildlife rehabilitators work out of their own homes, while others volunteer at nonprofit wildlife centers. Some home-based wildlife rehabilitators work with a center too. Establishing a rehabilitation center at home is simply not an option for many people. Local ordinances, leases, and other restrictions may prohibit this kind of activity. In some areas of the country, wildlife rehabilitators are so scarce that only one permitted rehabilitator may be found in a large area of a state.
The regulations and laws that govern wildlife rehabilitation can be very complex. These procedures vary from state to state and even within different regions of the same state. Some states issues permits to wildlife centers only, while in other states, permits are issued only to individuals and every person working at a center must have their own permit. Both centers and individuals can obtain permits in several states, and rehabilitators who care for birds must have a Federal permit, as well.
The quality of care should not depend on whether the rehabilitator is based in a center or in a home. When given a choice, most rescuers pick a rehabilitator by word-of-mouth recommendation or by proximity to their home or workplace. Ask questions if you have any concerns about the quality of care that will be provided to a wild animal. Most rehabilitators are very passionate about their work and are happy to discuss it with you.
What is Wildlife Rehabilitation?
The goal of wildlife rehabilitation is to provide professional care to sick, injured, and orphaned wild animals so ultimately they can be returned to their natural habitat. Wild animals that sustain injuries or illnesses preventing them from living successfully in the wild are euthanized (have their suffering ended in a humane fashion). Occasionally, individual animals that have recovered from their injuries but are not able to survive in the wild are placed in educational facilities.
Wildlife rehabilitation is not an attempt to turn wild animals into pets. Patients are held in captivity only until able to live independently in the wild. Fear of humans is a necessary survival trait for wild animals and every effort is made to minimize human contact and prevent the taming of rehabilitation patients. Often wildlife rehabilitation is an elaborate and time-consuming process.
Wildlife rehabilitators work with veterinarians to assess injuries and diagnose a variety of illnesses. Due to the important differences between wild animals and domestic animals, rehabilitators need extensive knowledge about the species in care, including natural history, nutritional requirements, behavioral issues, and caging considerations. They also need to understand any dangers the animals may present to rehabilitators. Rehabilitators must also be able to administer basic first aid and physical therapy, and understand any dangers the animals may present to rehabilitators.
Almost all birds are protected by federal law; state laws protect most other kinds of wildlife. To work with mammals, reptiles, and amphibians, wildlife rehabilitators must be issued special permits from their state wildlife agencies. Before receiving these permits, individuals must meet various requirements such as specialized training, participation in mentorship programs, facility inspections, and written or oral exams. Rehabilitators who wish to care for birds also must get permits from the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Once they receive the permits, conscientious rehabilitators continue their education by attending conferences, seminars, and workshops, keeping up with published literature, and networking with others in the field.
Because of their training, wildlife rehabilitators can help concerned people decide whether an animal truly needs help. Young birds and mammals should be returned to their families if at all possible; even well trained rehabilitators are not equivalent replacements for biological parents. Rehabilitators can provide instructions on how to reunite wildlife families, keeping the safety of the animals and the rescuers in mind, and they can suggest humane, long-term solutions when conflicts arise between humans and their wild neighbors.