“If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain; If I can ease one life the aching, Or cool one pain, Or help one fainting robin I shall not live in vain.” – Emily Dickinson
I’ve held a permit for rehabilitating wildlife for almost 30 years, for small animals and RVS species such as raccoons, foxes, and so forth. The latter requires a greater body of knowledge and very rigid standards for care, habitat, and disease protocols.
- The Rhode Island Wildlife Clinic can be reached at (401) 294-6363. If clinic staff is busy with animals, you will reach a message machine giving you the names and phone numbers of rehabilitators in the area who might be able to help you. We rely solely on fundraising and donations from the public, so if you bring an animal in need of care, please consider making a donation that will go toward the considerable cost of medications, medical supplies, food, caging, etc.
People are sometimes driven by good hearts to try to care for wild orphans they’ve stumbled upon, but the reality is that these creatures need very specialized care and specialized diets. Too many times I’ve been brought a wild baby by someone who meant well, but by the time the baby got to me, it was already suffering from dehydration, infection, or a poor diet. There have been heartbreaking times in my care of wild animals, but there have also been funny, or touching times, and I wouldn’t trade my past experiences for anything.
Please note: In Rhode Island and Massachusetts, raccoons, skunks, woodchucks, and foxes are considered RABIES VECTOR SPECIES and a level IIX rehabilitator’s license is required for their care. Do NOT handle them. Infants that have been handled by the public will be considered a rabies exposure risk by the DEM and will be euthanized for rabies testing. Please don’t condemn these babies by improper handling! Call a rehabber, or for emergency care, please handle babies with thick, protective gloves and/or by wrapping them in a blanket or towel.
I don’t want to recreate the wheel explaining why you CAN’T raise and keep orphaned wildlife, so there are excellent articles on Wild Heart Ranch , a large wildlife rehabilitation center in Oklahoma run by my fellow rehabilitator Annette Tucker. The laws she talks about in her home state of Oklahoma apply here, and the difficulties she faces apply to me as well. I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it is to receive an animal from someone who tried to raise it, ran into trouble and is now ready to hand it over. For me, it sometimes means just having to watch that baby die.
Shannon K. Jacobs, author of the book Healers of the Wild: People Who Care for Injured and Orphaned Wildlife has given us permission to use two excerpts from her book which might help you determine what to do now that you have found a baby animal. We thank Shannon for allowing us to put these pages on our site. For more information about her book, visit this web site.
Useful websites for wildlife rehabilitation:
- Wildlife Rehabilitators Association of Rhode Island
- Tufts Wildlife Center
- What is Wildlife Rehabilitation?
- National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association
- NWRA Wildlife Links
- International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council
- Defenders of Wildlife
- International Fund for Animal Welfare
- National Wildlife Federation
- World Wildlife Fund
- Mystic Aquarium
“If the beasts were gone, we would die from a great loneliness of spirit.” – Chief Seattle
I Am An Animal Rescuer by Annette King-Tucker
My job is to assist God’s creatures
I was born with the need to fulfill their needs
I take in new family members without plan, thought, or selection
I have bought dog food with my last dime
I have patted a mangy head with a bare hand
I have hugged someone vicious and afraid
I have fallen in love a thousand times
and I have cried into the fur of a lifeless body
I have Animal Friends and friends who have animal friends
I don’t often use the word “pet”
I notice those lost at the road side
And my heart aches
I will hand raise a field mouse
And make friends with a vulture
I know of no creature unworthy of my time
I want to live forever if there aren’t animals in Heaven
But I believe there are
Why would God make something so perfect and leave it behind
We may be master of the animals,
But the animals have mastered themselves
Something people still haven’t learned
War and Abuse makes me hurt for the world
But a rescue that makes the news gives me hope for mankind
We are a quiet but determined army
And making a difference ever day
There is nothing more necessary than warming an orphan
nothing more rewarding than saving a life
No higher recognition than watching them thrive
There is no greater joy than seeing a baby play
who only days ago, was too weak to eat
I am an Animal Rescuer
My work is never done,
My home is never quiet
My wallet is always empty
But my heart is always full.