What to do if you find an animal after hours?
In the past couple of weeks, I have had many discussions, ok maybe arguments, with members of the public on why we don’t answer phone calls 24 hours a day. This is a very difficult task to ask volunteers to man the phone lines for a potential phone call of an injured animal. Then the “discussion” turns to why isn’t there a service to help these animals after hours? Again, finding volunteers is difficult so staffing it would be the only solution. But staffing requires money. How do we expect an organization whether it be a government agency, city, or non-government agency to do this for free? What people sometimes forget is that there is little to no funding coming to environmental organizations. Within the government, environmental departments are the first to be cut from the Budget. No one complains that government agencies are short staffed and have to patrol vast areas of the province for illegal activity. Everyone would like someone else to do more work than they possibly can. At PWRC. we receive a small summer grant to hire students to work full time during the summer. This barely covers a 12 hr shift with one staff by themselves. We receive a majority of our annual animal caseload from the city of Winnipeg, but receive no funding or support for our work. So why is there no service? Because there’s no funding. Are you interested in donating to help fund the service? We would love to be able to offer a 24 hr service to Manitobans but we need funding first. We try to do the best that we can but as a volunteer we do have other jobs that sometimes have to come first. There’s also no service to pick up injured animals either. We try with the limited resources and volunteers to help with these rescues but again, we’re using our own gas traveling across the city for the pick up or rescue. To help ease some of the burden of our volunteers, we have a working relationship with the Pembina Emergency Clinic, located at 400 Pembina, open 24 hours to help act as a drop off. We also work with Wildbirds Unlimited, located at 45-11 Reenders Dr., open business hours, on the East side of Winnipeg. However, we always want people to call us first, in case the young animal is an unnecessary orphan kidnapped from their natural parents. If the animals is truly sick and has an obvious injury, please drop off at one of the locations. But if the animal is not showing any signs of injury/sickness, and may in fact be a young animal learning how to fly or find food, please talk to us first.
If you cannot drive to the 24 hr veterinary clinic, there are a few simple things you can do to keep the animal safe and stable until morning.
- First, keep the animal contained in either a cardboard box or pet carrier. Make sure to have something on the floor of the container like an old towel or paper towel. Secondly, if the animal is sick/ injured or an infant animal with no parent/nest, please keep them in a dark WARM location. Sometimes during the summer our garages are nice and toasty. If you have a desk lamp that radiates heat, place this near the animal and to one side of the box or carrier. If the animal gets too warm, they can move away from the heat. If it is an infant mammal, a heating pad set on Low can be placed under half of the box or carrier to prevent them from overheating.
- Should you feed it? NO. Why? You are containing this animal after hours only which would be at night time and unable speak to someone at PWRC. Again, many animals are sleeping during the night and wouldn’t naturally be eating. It is very important for their healing process to sleep. Don’t constantly check in on them either. LET them SLEEP. Warmth is critical in saving these animals, while food and drink are not. A cold animal cannot digest anything so keeping it warm is essential.
So in the end, I can’t beat myself up for not staying up all night to answer every phone call and hope I can make a difference to the injured and orphaned animals once I’ve had sleep. Please be kind in your tone with us, as we’re volunteers trying to do a thankless job. And lastly, if you’ve called once and left a message, try again. Sometimes you leave a wrong phone number or your number is not audible. Speak slowly, leave your name and number and we will do our best to help you. Thanks Lisa