Hard Work Equals Releases

Article and photos by Jennifer Howard

Well after two years of a pandemic, we made it yet again. So many animals came into our care, orphaned, injured, some critical, too critical to save. Some were sick. Yes, we have losses in spite of everything we do. But the lives we saved way outnumbered those we sadly lost. There is no way to save every life that comes through our door. But we try our hardest to do so.

The volunteers worked hard at making it all work. Some made it and some couldn’t do it. Volunteering at a wildlife rehabilitation centre is not for all. It’s hard. It’s not just cuddling hungry babies. They grow up, get grumpy and want nothing to do with you. They are wild.  But you still have to feed, water and clean them, assisting with medical care. It’s cleaning, laundry, sanitizing, food prepping, being there on time every shift. Being there, period. All the lives we take in, depend on us in order to survive. To be able to do animal care, you must be at least 18 years old.

This year we had so many critical animals come in needing vet care, some ending up euthanized when the vet and animal care decided there was no more we could do. Suffering should not be part of an animal’s life when all has been done and its condition continues to worsen or just doesn’t get better, but before that decision is made everything is done to try.

It’s draining on those who deal with it directly, who have to make those final decisions, and it’s costly. But we have had so many wonderful donations to help us through. Donations of cash, bedding, toys, food of all sorts, and much needed live traps were given this year.

Thanks to the donation of live traps, 15 foxes have been caught and treated for mange this year. There are at least four more we are trying to get. I can’t tell you how thankful we are for those donations; supplies of all sorts for all our needs came in when we needed them.

It never stopped with lots of animals but not enough volunteers. We had to stop admitting animals a couple of times. But we weren’t alone. It seems all rehabs have the same issues. So many animals. You need to be able to care for what you have, and if that means stop admitting, then that’s what we have to do, not what we want to do. However, if it is a sick or injured animal make that very clear on your phone message. We will do our best to help.

Releases are under full throttle ahead now; raccoons, opossums, skunks, squirrels and bunnies; all going back to the wild. This is part of a wildlife rehabber’s job.  Soon, come fall, fawns will be released as well. And one by one, our mangy foxes have gotten better and have gone home mange free looking beautiful and healthy. But most importantly, happy.

Crystal (left) and Jennifer Howard (right) preparing to do a fox release in a suitable, safe enviroment, away from humans.

Finding the best places for our little orphans is time-consuming since we must make sure they have everything they need; food, water and shelter and hopefully away from humans. The other older animals, however, who were brought in with injuries or sickness, must go back to where they were found since that is their home, they know where everything is. We are licensed under the Ministry of Natural Resources and must follow their guidelines and rules.

We are still looking for a donation of a construction trailer for our office and education room so we can fit more animals into our main building, thus making the nurseries bigger. It’s all about the animals, with us being able to help more of them in need. And more of you in need of finding help for injured or orphaned wildlife you have encountered.

Believe me, we know how frustrating it is trying to find help for an animal in need and not being able to. But it’s out of our hands, there clearly are not enough wildlife rehabilitation centres out there. And it’s tough to start one up. So make that call and wait for us to call you back. It should be within the hour. We will work together and do the best we can to help you.

Now with fewer animals, we can focus on cleaning, sanitizing, and planning. There is never nothing to do. We still have animals waiting for their turn to go free. We have the sick and injured recovering. It seems the work is never done. We are starting to lose volunteers who are going back to school and work which makes it harder yet again. Somehow we always get through.

This last week here at Procyon (second last week in August) we have had some very challenging injuries come in. All were needing vet care, not all making it. We had four beautiful young raccoons come in. Electrocuted. They were found at a hydro substation.

Please, with injuries, always call us immediately, make it an urgent message, especially with critical injuries like these were. Do not try to care for them yourself. This is why we are here after all. The vet visit for these little ones was so sad. They were in extremely bad condition. After seeing them all, the vet was able to give 1 out of 4 a chance. There was no hope for the other three. They were humanely euthanized by caring loving hands. It was extremely hard on all of us. The pain they must have suffered.

We have no idea how it happened but the woman had called Hydro One to talk to them. We hope they can figure it out so this doesn’t happen again to other animals. The lone survivor, Fuzzy, was sedated, given a thorough examination and x-rayed. Wounds were cleaned and medication applied. Her exit wound was on her front foot, it was cleaned well and bandaged. The entry was her poor little face. X-rays show she has fluid in her lungs, an upper respiratory infection and she has a heart murmur. But the vet is hopeful she will get better, but also she is critical, needing special care. However upon her placement back in her home back at Procyon, she first had a big drink. Then proceeded to put her feet in the water and started to try to remove her bandage. What is this foreign thing? Waving it around, she didn’t want to walk on it. She was so unhappy. It was soaked and driving her crazy so Crystal removed it. It was not expected to stay on long but it was worth a try. Her wound was once again cleaned and disinfected well.

With the bandage removed little Fuzzy was a new girl. We gave her toys. She played and rolled around as she was still wonky after her sedation. But she was so cute and so happy. She will need oxygen treatments for her breathing and is on pain meds and antibiotics. She is full of life. We know things could change, but we are also keeping hopeful for this little life.

A couple of days later a big raccoon was found on a road, it had been hit by a car. There was a lady trying to feed it an english muffin! First of all, it is an adult injured raccoon and any injured animal, especially wildlife, can be dangerous. You don’t go up to it and try to feed it. You stay with it and call a wildlife rehabilitation centre, immediately. They will give you instructions. That woman left when another one stopped asking what she was doing. Luckily the second woman called me and stayed with it. It had a face injury and a broken wrist. It had made its way into the ditch where it lay. It was transported to Procyon and cared for and given pain meds.

Unfortunately, it started acting strangely. Distemper affects the animal’s brain. It can become friendly, then nasty, chews everything and for an adult that isn’t normal behaviour. They can even chew themselves, because they don’t know. It can put itself at risk of being hit by a car because it doesn’t know any different. It’s a horrible disease of which there is no cure. And it can spread to other animals. Is very contagious. This raccoon has been put into isolation, thank goodness.

So two out of six raccoons came back with us this particular week. I can’t explain to you how it feels to lose a life but I’m sure you can all imagine it, being animal lovers. It’s very difficult indeed. Every single life matters for us. Big or small. We do the best we can for each and every one.

I hope Hydro One listens to the lady who found the raccoons electrocuted. I hope they put measures in place to make sure no other animals suffer like that. Three out of four touched the current with their noses, with exit wounds on two to all four feet. The last one must have grabbed it with his hand. The arm was gone. Dead. Infected. There were all sorts of issues with these horrific injuries. He was still so lively and active in spite of the arm and pain he had to be in. A young vibrant life not mean to be. It was heartbreaking. To see that the exit hole from an electrical current could be so small was a learning curve for me. I have never seen an injury from electrocution before. I don’t know how they survived at all. We won’t know little Fuzzy’s fate for a bit as since we don’t know if there are any internal injuries that may creep up. Other than those we do know about, there could be other injuries not detected.

Any donations towards her ongoing care would be gratefully accepted. No matter how much, as it all adds up. We are not funded by the government and are all volunteers. It’s you, the public, that keep us going and able to care for these little lives. For that, we thank each and every one of you for your ongoing support, whatever it may be. Thank you.

This month we helped with a rescue of a different kind.

A dog rescue.

I got a message in regards to how do I trap my foxes. Can I help them? Well, foxes and domestic dogs are very different but I offered some pointers which I use successfully.

This beautiful, horribly emaciated pup of a large breed showed up at a friends’ place in Bradford. And with permission from Procyon’s animal care coordinator Crystal, we lent them a live coyote trap and donated some food. They came to pick it all up and got instructions on how to set it up properly, just until Pawsitive Ground Search could get their big cage trap there. Better than nothing. The dog kept coming. PGS got there the next day. On day 4, after it had been first spotted, they got this beauty. It’s a whole different rescue method of which I was proud we got to be a part. I was online when he went in. And it was amazing. It brought tears to my eyes, he was so thin; nobody had reported him missing. Yet once he walked into that trap, this dog who was in survival mode and on the run submitted to all. He was calm, accepting love and attention. Just soaking it up. Good night’s sleep, probably the first one he had in a long time, he has now been vet checked and is being cared for. Whoever gets to adopt this dog when he is released, assuming no owner is found, is going to be a very lucky person. He is going to make one incredible loving companion. Way to go all involved in that one. It was a pleasure.

* Photos of dog rescued courtesy Paul Novosad

Also, a huge thank you goes out to Dr. Nelissa and Dr. Sherri of National Wildlife Centre for helping us in our times of need.

Just remember.

HELP is in YOUR hands❤️

Jen Howard,

Volunteer/photographer,

Procyon Wildlife Rehabilitation, Beeton, Ontario

Enjoy the following gallery of images of animals in our care. All images were taken by Jennifer Howard

Hard Work Equals Releases
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