COVID-19 2020 has turned into COVID-19 2021. We got through the first wave where we admitted more animals than other years. We had strict protocols in place for our volunteers and the public. Due to the cancellation of training for new volunteers in March, we had a limited number of volunteers. As a result, the animals were either socially distanced inside or fostered out to experienced animal care volunteers.
But we are getting through it with your support and for that we thank you. We lost all our fundraisers for the year but tried some new ones with success. People who brought animals to us were very generous and left donations of cash to help with their care. Donations of food and bedding were also accepted through the summer months. Then fall hit bringing with it a lot of distemper in raccoons and mange, mostly in foxes. Some animals with bad injuries were admitted and they will need to overwinter to completely heal. Also, some very young, orphaned raccoons showed up who are also overwintering at the Centre since they are too young to go free yet. It was, to say the least, a very strange year.
As of December 26th, strict restrictions and lockdowns are in place yet again. Volunteer numbers are limited, and no public are allowed in. These restrictions are in place to protect us and to protect the animals. Masks are worn, gloves worn, and everything is wiped down and sanitized frequently. As before, we will get through it.
We are still accepting animals, but you must call first and leave a message. A volunteer will return your call and will complete the admitting form over the phone with you. You will be given a phone number to call upon your arrival with strict instructions to be followed. Please follow them and do not come directly to the front door.
On the outside of the building work has been going ahead full force to get things done before the winter weather really hits. New squirrel pens have been built and new fencing has gone up, while new coyote and fox enclosures and more raccoon enclosures are slowly and carefully being constructed.
We are looking for a used trailer to be set up for our new education/admitting centre. We will then be able to make more room inside the main building to house more orphans with a bigger nursery. So, if anyone knows of an old construction office, for example, a trailer etc. please give us a call at (905)729-0033 or email us at in**@pr*************.com. We are hoping to have all this work done by the spring and are anticipating that by then COVID-19 will have somewhat settled down.
Please be mindful of your friends, families and neighbours and strangers you meet while out to the grocery stores for instance. Wear your mask, sanitize your hands frequently, wash them often. Keep your distance and stay home if you don’t feel well or don’t need to go out. Missing friends and family? Get together virtually. It is the only way we will get through this once and for all. And unless essential, please follow our Government of Canada guidelines and do not travel. In order to move forward, each and every one of us must make an effort to make it work. Every day is a new day and a step closer hopefully to getting back to normal. Or should I say possibly the new normal for a while? But it will get better than it is now.
We have admitted some very special patients over the last few months. Some did not make it, and that breaks your heart. We do everything we can to try to save an animal. But sometimes it is just too late by the time we get them. You see a wild animal does its very best to hide their symptoms if they are sick from other animals, even us. This is called survival mode. For example, if they let their guard down out there then they become at risk of being taken down by another healthy predator, making it extremely important that you get them to us ASAP. Every minute counts.
This month I will be giving you some updates on a few of our overwintering animals at Procyon because if it were not for you, they would never have had a chance. Here are the updates on a few of the special animals that have touched our heartstrings lately.
If you remember, our little Trouble, a female raccoon, was admitted after being attacked by an off-leash dog in a provincial park. She was our animal of the month for December. Finding a kind human to help her out of desperation, she made it to us. She underwent a thorough vet check and while she was under sedation, procedures were taken to clean and debride her wounds. Her head and neck were shaved, and she was given meds. She was a mess. But she did not want to be enclosed. No, Trouble wanted out ASAP. Our sweet little girl was an escape artist; she was stressed and wanted out so badly, so when she had her next vet check, Dr. Rebecca gave us the go-ahead for her to go outside since her neck was healing great.
In a nice warm enclosure outside, Trouble hid for a few days. The enclosures are winterized as well so with an extra bed and extra straw, she would be fine with lots of room and things to do. Other raccoons nearby in other enclosures gave the company of her own kind. It took her a few days to settle in but then she was much happier. She will overwinter with us until all her fur grows back. For now, Trouble is healing very well, enjoying being outside and is not trying to escape anymore; this is a win-win for all.
Malcolm was a raccoon that came in bald from head to toe. He was cold, he shivered uncontrollably, he drank till his bowl was dry. He grumbled at us incessantly. We got him warmed up ASAP and waited for instructions from the vet on medication. We put towels in the dryer and wrapped the crate in warmth until we could move him. The first assumption was severe mange for which he was treated. He was a good eater, and since he was so hungry, he was given small feedings a few times a day; he loved his fruits and veggies and kibble. He snuggled into his blankets and a fur coat section. We kept him nice and warm and quiet in the sick room. His door was doubly secured as he showed interest in getting out, but even with that, one night, Malcolm was able to pick the lock and go for an adventure in his room. Going high as they always do, he was found snoozing on top of the cupboards. We put a live trap out and a crate on top of his cage with food. When the volunteer checked on him later, he had come down and was fast asleep in the crate. Back he went. Safe and sound.
Dr. Rebecca had a look at him on her day at the Centre, and since he was not doing well, she determined he was not suffering from mange but probably Cushing’s Disease. In layman’s terms, this is an enlargement of the pituitary gland caused by a tumour that secrets ACTH (Adrenocorticotropic hormone), a hormone that stimulates the production of cortisol.
As a result, Malcolm’s meds were changed. Dogs and cats can get Cushing’s Disease as well, although it is usually seen in older animals from 7 to 12 years old. An ongoing treatment plan would be incredibly stressful for wild animals, as well as impractical since they need to go back to the wild. Malcolm was still drinking excessively, however, he still enjoyed his foods and was eating well. Suddenly, he lost a lot of noticeable weight; his poor skin was hanging off him. Everything was being done to try to bring him along. But finally, just before Christmas, little sweet Malcolm lost the battle and passed away one night. Poor sweet soul. We have no idea how long he was like that out in the cold elements before he was brought to us for treatment. It was such an incredibly sad case and it just broke our hearts. He was so special. The one thing that we must think of now is that he did not starve or freeze to death. He was warm, comfortable, and well-fed, and not in any pain. He was a real trooper. RIP Malcolm. You will not soon be forgotten that is for sure.
Prickles is a young porcupine who was found in the middle of the road. She didn’t want to move so we were called. She came into the Centre but had been picked up by a blanket. Unfortunately, this is not a good idea for a porcupine since Prickles lost a lot of quills. An honest mistake, but a lesson our rescuers have learned for the next porcupine rescue. Porcupines are difficult to pick up. It’s best to use the lid of a big bin and scoot them into that. Gently right the bin and secure the lid. Making sure the lid has holes and you have duct tape to secure it from opening just in case. One does not want a porcupine joining you in the driver’s seat whilst driving. Prickle’s quills will grow back, so all will be good. Prickles was very vocal and wanted nothing to do with anyone. It appeared the little one was possibly favouring a back foot, so a vet check was scheduled. Getting this little dude sedated was not an easy job. This porcupine gave us proper “you know what”, by vocalizing more than any porcupine we have had in the past. It was an effort, but we got her sedated, only to learn that Prickles was a young male! And he had a sore foot, in fact, both back feet were sore but one far worse than the other. Medical attention by Dr. Rebecca ended up with him needing a nice yellow bandage for a day or two. Unlike some other animals, he was very good at keeping the bandage on until it was removed, although he did look at it in disgust and gave it a “what for” every time he was gnawing at his much-loved squash. When it was time to take the bandage off, he gave Crystal heck all over again. He is a healthy eater but is stressed being with us. So, photos other than those of him sedated will come later to allow him to settle and heal, while he is given the care needed. When he is ready, he will go to an outside enclosure to finish his rehabbing with us before his release.
One day a call came in for an adult coyote at a farm. Unfortunately, by the time the volunteer had responded, he had run away. A couple of days later. he was curled up in the straw. This time she got him in the baited live trap. He was just that hungry. When he arrived I was at the Centre. His face was all bloody from trying to get out of the trap and his case of mange was horrible. He was thin and wobbling on his feet. He was in very bad shape. He came in late and while en route to the vet the next morning he passed away despite all efforts to save his life. He was bleeding from his nose, lethargic and could not stand and he had pneumonia. It is so extremely hard to lose any animal. It is a life. It cannot tell us how it feels, and its instinct tells it to never show any signs of weakness. This coyote was too far gone before he allowed anyone to capture him.
As 2020 draws to a close our animals outside are warm and cosey while the animals inside are waiting for their time to go outside. One day at a time. One step at a time, toward full rehabilitation and their release.
2021 is upon us and COVID-19 is still with us like never before. Please let us all do what we are being told to do so that we can move forward in our lives. If you find an animal in need please make that call ASAP. And leave a message. Do not touch the animal, do not feed it. A sick animal, even though it may seem friendly, becomes very stressed if it is handled, even if it doesn’t appear to be. It is after all a wild animal. A very friendly raccoon is more often than not a very sick raccoon. Call us for instructions. If you have gotten a sick or injured animal in a live trap or crate keep it covered and warm and in a dark quiet place until we can arrange for its admittance with you. We can work together to help save a life.
Let’s hope 2021 gets better, that our COVID-19 troubles will soon be over and that our lives can return to normal. Or at least close to it. Maybe a new normal who knows?
Meanwhile, animals are still getting injured and sick. So, Procyon is open for animal admissions, upon appointment only. But for now, just as before, strict protocols are in place at Procyon, when admitting an animal, you will make an appointment, call us when you get to the parking area and we will come out to you to get the animal. No contact, with masks on. Let us know if you need the crate or carrier back so we can make sure we are prepared before you get there. Follow the instructions carefully that the phone volunteer will give you, they will go through everything with you. Please note, currently, we are not accepting donations of sheets, towels etc… If in doubt concerning any items you might like to donate, just call us and leave a message. We will get back to you.
Do not hesitate to ask questions if you are unsure of anything and let’s do this together. Do not keep the animal and try caring for it yourself, please make that call. That animal’s life depends on it. And thank you for caring. Stay safe, stay well.
From all of us to all of you, we hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and wish you all the best in 2021.
Procyon Volunteer /Photographer
“HELP is in YOUR Hands”