Archive | June 2019

Wildlife are Not Cats or Dogs

Today can be summed up with “Wild animals are not cats and dogs”

Cats and dogs are fairly predictable. Most of the time you pet them and they are happy, you feed them cat and dog food, when they are sick or hurt, you take them to the vet.

People see the pet possum or the house raccoon or even the deer with a party hat watching tv on the internet and they forget that these are wild animals. In the 30 seconds or few minutes of the video, it seems as though they are really not much different than dogs and cats. They love you as their masters and they appreciate your help.

It doesn’t always work that way.

Wild animals, even most very young wild animals are exactly that. Wild. They fear humans. The don’t like anything that doesn’t fit in with their world and mostly, that is humans.
The day started with the woman picking up the young bobcat after it was hit by a car. Instead of calling a rehabber or the DNR immediately for advice, she put the unconscious cat in a dog crate and took it to a vet.

First of all, very few vets treat wild life. Most won’t even allow them in their clinics. All understand that a scared wild animal is dangerous and will lash out. The cat was awake when it got there and scratched the woman who picked it up.
To make a long story short, the vet called the DNR and by Michigan law, the cat had to be put down and tested for rabies. No way around it. Once it breaks the skin, the animal is doomed. People pick them up anyway.

This is one of the biggest reasons I do not allow people to touch the animals in my care. Yet still, they will walk in and the first thing they do is stick their fingers into the cages. My eyes are rolling right now.

Next, came 5 baby possums. Two severely injured with limbs or tails “Degloved”. (that means, the skin is torn away leaving nothing but raw muscle and nerves. It is extremely painful and takes a long time and lots of treatment to heal. I put the healthy ones in a cage and the other two in a darkened basket to be dispatched when they left.

The wife demanded to know how I was going to treat it. Then showed me photos on her phone of a kitten she rescued from a fire. One ear was burned off and a foreleg degloved. It has a large, raw burned patch on it’s side. The photos were gruesome. Then she showed the after photos of this cat, now mostly blind and said it took over 40 vet visits and surgery to save it.

All I could think of is “why?. Was the pain and suffering that kitten went through really worth the outcome? Animals don’t cling to life like we do. They don’t experience angst about death. They do experience pain….but….since this was a domestic animal, the vets could treat it. They could relieve much of it’s pain. It could take comfort t in the touch of human hands.
If this wasn’t bad enough, about 9:45 tonight a woman called and wanted me to come get an adult raccoon that had been hit by a car. She said it was trying to get up but couldn’t. She stated that it got nasty when she tried to move it out of the road. She wanted me to do something. NOW.

I tried gently explaining that there really wasn’t a lot I could do for a coon in that state (trying to handle an injured adult coon is a lot like juggling chainsaws. It aint gonna work for long) I told her that there aren’t any vets who would even look at the coon, let alone treat it and I am not a vet, there is only so much I can do with my limited resources. I told her that the best thing for the coon was to either put it down or simply leave it alone to expire in relative peace.

She would have none of it. She cried and whined. She demanded that I come help the coon. She got really upset when I told her no. I value my fingers. I have scars running up and down my arms from raccoons, and am not in the market for more. I was not going to drive 30 miles to Mancelona and pick up the coon.

She hung up on me with a few choice words including “Heartless, lazy and bitch”.
What she didn’t know is that I felt bad when I put the phone back in the charger. I felt bad for her. I felt bad for the coon. I hate feeling so helpless. But I can guarantee that if I HAD gone to rescue that coon and it was still clinging to life when I got there, it would not have been happy to see me. It’s fear of me would have far outweighed any comfort I could give it unless it involved a quick end to this life.

Not 15 minutes later, a young girl arrived with a fledgling robin. She said it was acting funny and it’s mother threw it out of the nest. When I looked at it, I could tell that it was ready to leave the nest anyway. but it’s head was shaking, it was staggering and the mouth was partially open with it’s tongue forward and raised. All are classic signs of poisoning. Someone treats their lawn or garden or sprays for mosquitos and the mother bird either ingests the bugs or worms and dies or feeds it to her babies and they die.

She did not want to hear this. She wanted me to DO something. Couldn’t I pump it’s stomach or give it something to counteract the poison? No. It’s a bird. All I could do is put it in a dark basket, so it would be calm as see what happens. I’ll know by morning.

I am not going to hold it as it dies to comfort it. It would bring it no comfort. It is not a beloved cat or dog. It is a wild bird, never touched before by human hands. It does not want to be in those hands now.

It is frustrating. Most of the time I can bring them no comfort other than trying to relieve pain or ending that pain forever. They are not cats and dogs. They are forever wild.

Laws are laws

I got a pretty frantic call this morning. A woman was at the vets. She had a full grown bobcat in a carrier in the back of her car. The DNR was on it’s way.

She saw the cat get hit on the road and it was unconscious. She stuffed it in her dogs carrier that she happened to have in the back of her car. She rushed it to a vet.

The vet agreed to come out to the car, but by now the cat was fully conscious and mad. It was spitting and growling, but the woman opened the cage anyway. The cat scratched her and drew blood.

The vet called the DNR.

The woman was frantic and angry that the DNR officer said they would have to put the cat down to have it tested for rabies since it drew blood. The woman was furious and wanted me to do something.

There is nothing I can do. Both the DNR and I are bound by laws. The law states that all wild animal wounds require the animal in question to be put down, the head removed and sent to Lansing, where it will be opened and a black light shined on the brain. If it fluoresces, the rabies virus is present. In Northern Michigan, it rarely fluoresces. The DNR knows that. I know that. Still, it is the law.

She said she would just open the door and let the cat out. (A bad idea in town). She said she’d take it back to where she found it, but that might lead to even more trouble and possible charges being brought against her. Not only that, but she would have to go through the rabies anti toxin injections. (Not as painful as they used to be, but very expensive.)

There really wasn’t going to be any way out of this for the cat. Hopefully, it was not a female with kits.

There is a lesson here. Wild animals are just that. They will fight back, no matter how cute or helpless they may seem at the moment. Always, always, always use precautions. Anticipate that the animal will bite or scratch you. In the case of an adult animal, call the DNR or a wildlife rehabber BEFORE you try to move it.

It’s sad, that this animal will have to be euthanized. It’s not the first time that I have had to deal with this. It won’t be the last.

Maybe though, if people use a little more caution, there will be less of it.