Animal Advocacy

Vote NO to Horse Slaughter!

posted March 25th, 2013 by
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Don’t take Oklahoma out on a limb 

Horse slaughter is a high-risk investment for Oklahoma.  Last Friday the EU (the largest horse meat market) confirmed that US horsemeat will not be permitted to be sold for human consumption in Europe. 

Why is the Oklahoma legislature spending time reinventing ceiling wax?  They need to work on real solutions.


Horse slaughter is not a humane alternative to starvation.    We have laws to stop starvation.

Why do they want to reopen horse slaughter plants? To make money. The families of Representatives Skye McNiel, Curtis McDaniel and others want to buy and sell cheap horses. They hope that a slaughter plant will help them do so.  However, it won’t and Oklahoma will pay the price.

Where did “all these horses” really come from? Oklahoma has too many horses because of overbreeding. The number of horses in the U.S. grew by over two million between 1986 and 2011 (over 25%). Horse registries encouraged overbreeding, even offering “registration papers” for mixed breed horses. The overproduction placed, “hundred dollar horses” into the backyards of people who could not afford to feed them, much less breed them. Now, horse dealers want their ‘heyday’ back again at any cost.

Will a slaughter plant solve the crisis? No.  Only corruption sustained the appearance of a horse meat market. The current European (EU) horse meat scandal revealed that horse meat[i]  was sold as beef for over two years.

The supply of horse meat greatly exceeded the demand for it.  With a dying overseas market, SB 375 is intended to make horse meat into an Oklahoma staple; that is very unlikely to happen.

Additionally, commonly used equine medications are dangerous to people, slaughter horses going to the EU may require drug history as is required for cattle[ii]. On Friday March 22, the EU confirmed that horse meat from the U.S. will not be accepted for human consumption.   Oklahoma may have a horse slaughter plant with no market to sell to.

What then?   There is no actual market.   While the world figures out who actually buys horse meat when they know what they are buying, dealers would bring slaughter horses to Oklahoma by the thousands.    This scheme is short-sighted and high-risk for Oklahoma.

Can horse slaughter increase crime in Oklahoma? Of course it will.  In 2012 Oklahoma George Baker of Stroud, OK, a foremost “killer buyer” and trucker of Oklahoma’s slaughter bound horses,  along with five others, were indicted in a multiple count grand jury indictment involving nine Oklahoma counties and extending to Texas.[iii]

Charges against Baker include buying and selling stolen property and farm equipment, and conspiracy and racketeering. Baker’s violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) are on the USDA website[iv]. Similar organized crime connections were noted throughout the EU scandal.[v] The UK Guardian noted that governments discussed organized crime because, “Previous convictions of dealers and traders, along with intelligence, suggest a link between the horse trade, meat laundering and various forms of trafficking.”

What about theft?  Unlike cattle, most horses are easily handled. An apple can lure a valuable horse into a trailer; a quick trip to a sale barn can reward a thief before the owner is even home from work.

What stands between your daughters’ horse and a thief is HB 1999.  Tell your legislator to safeguard you, not Skye McNiel’s money.

Horse slaughter is a bad deal for Oklahoma.

Below are the Oklahoma legislators who will vote on Monday whether or not they want to help Skye McNiel make money killing horses. Let them know you oppose horse slaughter.

Please be sure to reach your own legislator.

If you an Oklahoman let them know that you are tired of being called a “radical” or an outsider because you do not agree with greed and corruption.

[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected][email protected],  [email protected], [email protected],   [email protected][email protected], [email protected], [email protected][email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected][email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected][email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected][email protected], [email protected], [email protected][email protected][email protected], [email protected][email protected][email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected][email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected][email protected], [email protected]

Do this against Horse Slaughter TODAY!

posted March 15th, 2013 by
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HB 1999, a bill to open horse slaughter in Oklahoma, has been referred to the Senate AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT committee.   That committee is expected to pass the bill to allow a horse slaughter plant to operate in our state as they have already voted to pass SB 375, a senate bill which would repeal Oklahoma’s ban on horse meat consumption.


Please let them know that you find it an outrage that Oklahoma can spend this amount of time and effort on an item which could benefit only a small number of people, which can backfire on our state and which is absolutely not a humane solution to the problem of unwanted horses.


Senator Eddie Fields – Chair [email protected]
Senator Ron Justice – Vice Chair [email protected]

Senator Mark Allen [email protected]
Senator Don Barrington [email protected]
Senator Randy Bass [email protected]  
Senator Larry Boggs  [email protected]
Senator Frank Simpson [email protected]
Senator Anthony Sykes [email protected]
Senator Charles Wyrick [email protected]


Harvesting unwanted animals is not the way to stop abuse.  This bill is about money and it is likely a complete folly for Oklahoma.

The supply of horse meat has been shown to be in large excess in the European markets it was produced for.  In addition, the issue of being tainted with drugs that are toxic to people make this an unknown market that could bring thousands more unwanted horses to Oklahoma with no place to go from here.  We need agricultural development that will have a meaningful place in the economy, not shady get-rich-quick schemes by Representative McNiel and Senator Allen.

Please send an e-mail to each of the above legislators and let them know that you do not want HB 1999 or SB 375 to pass this session.

Don’t Copy & Paste. Please put this into your own words and add your opinions! :

The movement to open horse slaughter in Oklahoma is short sighted.  It is not agricultural development; it is about making a profit for a few shady horse dealers.

Additionally, Representative McNiel’s family stands to profit largely from a potential slaughter house, and co-author Curtis McDaniel noted on the floor that his father is a slaughter horse dealer as well.  This has a stink that can come back to haunt our state.

We do not benefit from this type of posturing. Please look at meaningful development, not private get-rich-quick schemes.


Lawyer Lloyd

posted March 9th, 2013 by
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by Lloyd Benedict

Dear Lawyer Lloyd:

My dog recently had puppies. She had a total of four puppies and I found homes for two of them. I have found no takers for the littlest one and another female. My friend told me to call the Humane Society and the SPCA. I called, but they told me they currently did not have room to take them.

Another friend said I could take them to the pound, and they for sure would be adopted because they are cute and pure bred. I really do not want to take them to the shelter if there is a chance they would not get adopted and be put down instead. What do you think I should do? Thank you, Tulsa Puppies Need a Home

Dear Puppies: Thank you for your email and question. My simple answer to your question is keep looking for someone to responsibly adopt them, meaning the new owners will license and have them spayed as required by law, so as to break the cycle of legal non-compliance if that was the case with the mother of those puppies.

Hopefully, you are aware that Tulsa has a law that requires your dogs (and cats) to be spayed or neutered by the time they reach 6 months old. Failing to abide by that law could cost you a hefty fine of up to $200. You should also be aware that Tulsa has been experiencing a serious pet overpopulation problem for quite some time, and it’s getting worse.

There are many reasons for Tulsa’s pet overpopulation, but one of the primary reasons is pet owners’ noncompliance with our mandatory spay/neuter law and Tulsa’s lack of enforcement for such law.

To demonstrate how serious Tulsa’s pet overpopulation really is, one need not look further than the numbers according to the 2010 census there are approximately 164,000 households that make up Tulsa’s population of 390,000 people.

According to the Humane Society’s U.S. website, it is estimated that 39 percent own dogs, with the average dog owner owning 1.69 dogs. Regarding cats, their study states that 33 percent of households own at least one, with the average cat owner owning 2.2 cats.

Interestingly, their study states that of the dogs owned 78 percent are spayed or neutered and 88 percent for the cats. Personally, I think Tulsa’s spay/neuter rate is considerably less than the national average but have no data to support my assertion.

Now let’s do the math for Tulsa. For dogs, there are 164,000 households of which 39 percent own 1.69 dogs. So, 63,960 households, times 1.69 dogs equal 108,092 dogs. Now calculate the national average spay/neuter factor, and you see that there are 23,781 un-spayed or un-neutered dogs in Tulsa that are at risk for unwanted reproduction on any given day.

Using the same equation for cats, we arrive at a figure of 15,375 un-spayed or un-neutered cats in Tulsa for a combined total of 39,156 dogs and cats. in other words, that’s 14,000 dog-owning households and 6,495 cat-owning households, totaling 20,495 Tulsa households breaking the law.

To compound this problem further, one must also consider the reproduction factors of Tulsa’s estimated 39,156 un-spayed and un-neutered pets. According to the ASPCA’s website, the average number of litters a fertile cat can produce in one year is three, with an average of four to six kittens per litter. In seven years, one female cat and her offspring can theoretically produce 420,000 cats.

The average number of litters a fertile dog can produce in one year is two, having an average litter of four to six. In six years, one female dog and her offspring can theoretically produce 67,000 dogs. So, theoretically speaking, if we applied that reproduction equation to Tulsa’s un-spayed and un-neutered pets, then it doesn‘t take a genius with an Excel spreadsheet to figure out that Tulsa‘s pet overpopulation problem is completely out of control.

Although the solution to this problem may be complex and multi-faceted, a part of the solution may be easier than we realize. Simply put, stricter enforcement of Tulsa’s spay/neuter law would substantially reduce the pet overpopulation numbers. If we use the above figures, we can see that just enforcing 10 percent (roughly 2,000) more households to be spay/neuter compliant would result in considerably thousands less unwanted and unnecessary litters.

This begs the question, how can the city of Tulsa do a better job at enforcing its own mandatory spay/neuter law? in my opinion, the city of Tulsa’s solution to this matter thus far has been more reactive than proactive. That is, the city appears to mainly rely upon its animal Welfare Department (TAW) to deal with our pet overpopulation issue.

In 2012, almost 11,864 animals were logged in through TAW with only 36 percent of those animals being redeemed, adopted or rescued. This means the remaining 7,472 animals were euthanized. It is quite clear that Tulsa’s citizens and animal rescuers cannot adopt enough dogs and cats from TAW to solve the problem alone under Tulsa’s reactive approach.

Instead, the city of Tulsa needs to address this matter in a proactive approach. For example, there are many cities in the U.S. that have implemented cost-effective and result-driven enforcement policies of their spay/neuter laws that have seen significant reductions in pet overpopulation numbers

Tulsa should study those cities and adopt the successful policies. Tulsa also needs better public education and communication in this area to promote the low cost spay/neuter programs throughout our city that offer low cost services for low income households.

But most effective of all, nothing says “get compliant” more than getting slapped with a $200 ticket if you do not become compliant within 30 days after receiving the citation. after all, the more fines collected the more money that can be applied to spay/ neuter enforcement efforts.

Editor’s Note:

If you live in the City of Tulsa and would like for the City to enforce its existing spay/neuter laws, you can sign an online petition at:


posted March 9th, 2013 by
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by Ruth Steinberger

Until faced with trying to “find someplace” for an unwanted dog, many people think the closest city shelter will be able to help them should the need arise. But think again… in Oklahoma, a state statute declares that county shelters may only be operated by counties with populations over 200,000—a number that includes fewer than five Oklahoma counties.

and it gets worse; while that statute gives county commissioners in low population counties an easy and cheap excuse to leave animals out in the cold, Tulsa, Oklahoma and Cleveland counties, all with populations significantly over 200,000, do not operate county-wide public animal shelters even though they can.

While communities without animal sheltering are common in rural areas of Oklahoma, few people realize that communities in Tulsa county— including Turley, Sperry, Coweta and as many as another 10,000 households in unincorporated areas of Tulsa county—do not have access to a shelter at which to relinquish a stray or unwanted animal.

The city of Tulsa Animal Welfare Division serves the 164,535 households that are within the Tulsa city limits. For the 75,139 Tulsa county households that are outside of the city of Tulsa, access to an animal shelter depends entirely on where the individual lives. Populated areas without shelters share boundary lines with cities that do have shelters.

Because placing an unwanted or unwelcome dog or cat can be impossible for thousands of Tulsa county households, at-risk animals can quickly turn into victims. Abandonment is seen as an easy fi x, and free listings on sites such as craigslist place pets at risk for a poor quality home, exploitation and even intentional cruelty.

The births of unwanted companion animals can and should be prevented and Tulsa County can enact a county tag law with a sterilization mandate in order to reduce the number of animals that will become surplus and fall between the cracks. However, unlimited access shelters are vital to ensuring safety for animals that become unwanted. Leaving tens of thousands of households without sheltering options blatantly turns a blind eye to surplus companion animals. Pretending that homeless animals do not exist, and refusing to count them, does not prevent suffering; it ensures it

The Dog Greeting Cards that Give Back

posted March 9th, 2013 by
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by Judy Langdon

As animal lovers, we know the joy of welcoming new pets, both puppies and rescues, into our homes and hearts. We care for them, celebrate their milestones and lives, and finally, experience the sadness of losing them.

We also search for unique cards featuring animals, especially ones that give back to the community and animal welfare groups, to send to friends and loved ones during all those same special moments.

Local photographer Sherry Stinson of TylerDog Photography in Bartlesville and Lori Griffin McPherson, a 1996 graduate of the University of Tulsa, both champion for animal causes through pet photography and greeting cards.

Recently I contacted Stinson and McPherson to learn more about how their pet photography ventures work.

Stinson has been a pet lover since childhood, and she’s spent most of her life with a camera in her hand. “A good day is one spent taking pictures,” she says. “A great day is taking pictures of pets.”

It was the death of her adult Doberman Pinscher, Tyler, many years ago that prompted Stinson to begin TylerDog Photography, creating pet sympathy cards in his memory as a way for her to “give back” to the community. TylerDog Photography eventually expanded into birthday, all-occasion and holiday cards.

“For years, we sold our cards strictly on eBay and by word of mouth, experiencing great success with these methods,” says Stinson on her website,

Unfortunately, Stinson has recently deleted her online store due to the dip in the economy, although she has placed a couple of her more popular variety packs on the website. “Until I decide on another e-commerce option, that’s all you’ll see online for sale.”

TylerDog has been featured in local and national media, including KJRH Channel 2 Works for You, Tulsa; Tulsa’s News Channel 8; USA Today; Animal Wise Radio and The Tulsa World.

Recently she was involved, through a petition of 9,200 signatures garnered in two weeks, in the overall defeat of Oklahoma Senate Bill SB32, which would have allowed cities to restrict ownership of any breed dog, enabling breed specific legislation to become law.

TP: Have you been a dog lover all your life? Do you have favorite breeds?

Stinson: Yes, I have. I love them all, but have owned Doberman Pinschers for almost 30 years, and I also have a special place in my heart for Pit Bulls. They have a way of working their way into your heart (and lap).

TP: How do you learn about the dogs featured on your cards? What are their typical ages, sizes and histories?

Stinson: Each dog featured on a greeting card comes with a story, which I ask the owner to provide. There’s no set age, size or history to any of the models who appear on our cards. It’s everything from a tiny puppy to a grand old senior with every breed imaginable, and a few you can’t quite imagine, in between!

TP: Are proceeds or partial proceeds given to non-profit animal welfare groups, and if so, which ones?

Stinson: I started a “Shelter Dogs & Alley Cats” line that features shelter dogs and cats. Each card sold from this line has a portion of the sale going to each individual rescue the animal may have come from. It could be Legacy of Hope Dog Rescue in Tulsa, as I’ve photographed several of their dogs, or any other shelter I’ve helped across the state

TP: Have there been any dogs you have featured on your cards with very memorable stories?

Stinson: Plenty. One of the hardest cards to create was one featuring Grady, my Doberman pinscher who passed away six years ago. i felt he would make a wonderful sympathy card, and in writing it, i was in tears the whole time. I’ve also featured dogs who have wonderful rescue stories to go along with their photos, such as Hayden, a Presa Canario, who was saved from a gassing facility in Altus, then adopted a few short months later by a wonderful family.

he literally was at death’s door, waiting to be gassed before he was saved by a local veterinarian. I helped with all the dogs saved from that area over the summer and grew quite attached to Hayden, so he became a greeting card.

TP: What is the most rewarding part of having a business like this, as well as the most difficult?

Stinson: The focus of my photography business is client and rescue photography. I specialize in creating timeless portraits for my clients, and in turn, I give back to rescues and shelters by donating free photo shoots for their adoptable animals. That truly is the focus of what I’m doing. We’re seeing adoption rates increase with the better photos and greater social media presence. In the seven weeks I’ve been helping the city of Tulsa animal Welfare, their January euthanasia rate was only 45 percent.

Their yearly average last year was 62 percent. That’s quite a decrease and Jean Letcher, the director, feels our photos and the increased social media presence is what’s helping bring that number down. The most difficult thing about rescue photography is knowing an animal I photograph Wednesday might not be there when I go back a week later.

TP: How is your business making a positive difference in the lives of dogs and dog lovers?

Stinson: I‘m creating timeless memories, whether it be with a portrait or a greeting card. I’ve had people tell me when they receive a TylerDog greeting card, they don’t throw it away; they put it in a drawer and keep it. Knowing I’ve touched someone’s heart through my work is what really matters to me. I would love to be able to have all my greeting cards available online, but truthfully, cost and lack of help is what prevents it [for now]. For more information please visit Hooray for the Underdog!

Lori Mcpherson serves as the “community Guru” for Hooray For The Underdog!, a photography venture founded in 2006 by husband and wife team Janet Healey and Joe Grisham, headquartered in downtown Dallas. Priding itself on being a give back company, HFTU! even prompted Oprah Winfrey to call it one of the best companies in the U.S. that gives back two years in a row.

a resident of the Dallas area for the past eight years, Mcpherson says it was at a local post office in 2010 where she first learned of Hooray For The Underdog! cards. Mcpherson, mom to her rescue dog Presley, joined the HFTU! team in 2012 after she and her husband began participating in Hooray!’s “First Thursday” outreach.

“Presley was adopted from the humane Society of Tulsa in October 2007, and he is now 7 years old,” she says. “he has been photographed for the Hooray For The Underdog! line, and his card should be available this summer.”

According to Mcpherson, Hooray For The Underdog!’s mission “is to educate others on the importance of animal rescue and adoption through beautiful photography. We are a ‘giveback’ company.

“The Healey-Grisham team has spent more than a decade photographing homeless animals once a month to enable shelters to find homes for their rescues. The first Thursday of every month we invite local rescue organizations into our studio to photograph their animals and allow them to present our photos on their websites and on Facebook.

“On the back of all of our cards we tell the story of the animals featured. Most of the animals that we use already have families, but all were rescued,” she says.

Although Hooray For The Underdog! products can be found at large retailers such as Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Hobby Lobby and Sunrise Greetings (a division of Hallmark Cards), Mcpherson says, “We are currently bringing our line back ‘in house…’ we are building our brand every day, and we even hope to expand beyond the United States.”

In addition, Healey and Grisham just launched their first cookbook, “The Dog Gone Good cookbook,” with author Gayle Pruitt.

TP: How does Hooray For The Underdog! learn about rescue dogs used in its various products?

McPherson: Janet and Joe find dogs everywhere, sometimes at local rescue events and even at the dog park. Considering we do photograph homeless animals once a month, often we find a “model” for our next card, cookbook or promotion.

TP: Do you have a special memory of any dogs in particular that have been featured?

McPherson: We actually found a precious terrier mix during a First Thursday photo shoot that was homeless, and we knew she would be it was really special that her new mom was able to bring her in. We often get to see the work come “full circle,” which is why we are dedicated to what we do. We know that the best way to get an animal adopted is through beautiful photography.

TP: What is the greatest accomplishment for you personally, as an employee of Hooray For The Underdog!? Have you always planned to combine your work in communications with an animal welfare organization?

McPherson: as a relatively new employee, I think my greatest accomplishment is yet to come. I am a true fan of this beautiful work and the mission behind what we are doing every day. i want hooray For The Underdog! to become a household name in the world of animal welfare and to partner with large organizations to make a difference.

Gina Gardner, president and founder of Humane Society of Tulsa asked me to serve in a volunteer capacity as the merchandising coordinator, and that’s what I have done from Dallas to help my home community.

When Janet and Joe approached me about working for them, I knew there would not be a better fi t for my passion and commitment to saving homeless animals in Tulsa, Dallas-Fort Worth and around the country.

For more information please visit

Wild Deliveries

posted March 9th, 2013 by
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by Nancy Gallimore Werhane

When you start your busy day, you take care of yourself, your family and maybe a few pets, right? When Annette Tucker starts her day, she has about 100 mouths to feed, and that’s during the “slow” season.

By title, Tucker is wildlife rehabilitator, president, director of operations and self-proclaimed head pooper scooper at Wild Heart Ranch (WHR), a state and federally licensed medical clinic, rehabilitation and pre-release care facility for all species of wildlife.

Every day, one employee and a dedicated group of volunteers join her in caring for everything from orphaned deer to a great horned owl with a sprained wing. A quick scan down the rescue group’s Facebook page also reveals a bobcat, raccoons, turtles, hawks, possums, geese, and the newest arrivals, a litter of tiny baby squirrels.

Wild heart ranch started in 1996 when Tucker moved to a small farm near Claremore, Okla. already an animal advocate, Tucker’s farm naturally became a sanctuary for numerous domestic animals in need. Then one day a friend brought her a pair of orphaned baby raccoons, and a mission was launched. Tucker discovered her passion for wildlife rehabilitation and never looked back.

For 12 years, she funded the care of more than 1,000 wild animals per year from her own pocket, working two jobs to do so. One of Tucker’s jobs was as a veterinary assistant— experience that helped her support the animals tremendously through the years.

In June of 2008, Wild heart ranch was finally established as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and became Tucker’s full-time job. With help from Wild heart’s co- founder and vice president, Sandy Brooks, Tucker’s support system grew quickly to include Veterinarian Lesleigh Cash Warren, 40 hard-working volunteers, a dedicated board of directors, generous sponsors and, of course, her family and friends.


From her start with two little masked babies, Tucker has created a safe haven where all species of wild animals can receive professional medical and supportive care with the end goal of release back into the wild whenever possible. By the end of 2012, nearly 20,000 wild animals received care at WHR.

The current relative calm at the ranch is about to be shattered. As we head into spring every year, Mother Nature turns into one giant labor and delivery room. if everything goes as planned, baby birds hatch safely, bunnies are snug in their nests, raccoons are tucked away in hollow trees, baby deer are safe hiding in the tall grass, and all receive their mothers’ expert care.

Unfortunately, sometimes Mother Nature’s plans get derailed. Each year hundreds of baby animals are orphaned and well-meaning humans try to figure out what exactly is the right thing to do for them. as Tucker and her volunteers gear up for another busy baby season, they are also working hard to educate the public about how to properly aid wildlife during this delicate time of year.

According to information provided by WHR, one of the best ways to help our wild friends is to steer clear and avoid disturbing nesting sites whenever possible. Tucker advises to think carefully before heading out to spring clean around your house. Thinking of trimming a dead tree limb? Check it first to see if it might be housing a family of raccoons or a nest of baby squirrels.

Planning to clean up an old junk pile? Look for signs of it being used as a temporary nursery. You might see little trails leading into the pile or other small signs that a family is living there. Planning to clean out your gutters? Check for active bird nests before you just sweep everything away.

But what do you do if you find that a bird or wild animal has set up a nursery on your property? “Waiting a bit to deal with the project at hand is always ideal,” Tucker says. Most young families just need a few weeks before the babies are ready to leave the nest and move on.

If your project can’t wait, talk to the experts at WHR to find out how to best deal with the situation. “Finding a nest doesn’t mean you cannot perform your task,” Tucker says. “It just means you will do things a little differently and learn a little patience to support the lives at stake.”

The first rule of thumb Tucker preaches is, whenever possible, babies are better off with their mothers. “We are happy to take in any orphan,” she says. “But it’s sad when a few weeks with mom are traded for several weeks with us.”

If you find a baby bird, returning it to the mother’s nest is ideal. “She is so much better at being a bird example to her babies than we are,” Tucker says. If you should find babies you believe to be orphaned, Tucker advises to make sure the mother is not returning to the nest before intervening. Just because you do not see her, doesn’t necessarily mean she isn’t caring for her young.

10491 S. 4190 RD.
(918) 342-WILD
[email protected]

Take mother rabbits for example. Rabbit nests are just shallow indentions in the ground lined with a bit of the mother’s fur and covered by grass. According to Tucker, rabbits only nurse their young at night and do not sit on their nests during the day because that would attract predators.

Because they are not the smartest moms when it comes to selecting a nest site, Tucker claims it is not uncommon to find a family of newborn rabbits in the middle of your back yard—yes, even if you have a dog or cat in residence.

If you want to see if the mother rabbit is still caring for her young, Tucker suggests using a bit of string or twigs to make an X on top of the nest. If you check the next morning and the X has been disturbed, you will know the mother rabbit is still on the job. She also recommends placing a tomato cage around the nest to protect the babies from family pets. The mother can still get in, but larger animals cannot.

So how do you know when to intervene in helping newborn wild animals? Tucker offers these specific guidelines to determine when it’s time for a baby to go to a wildlife rescue. Intervention is necessary for:

• A baby whose mother is known to be dead.

• A baby that is cold to the touch, injured or dehydrated.

• Any animal or bird, young or adult, which has been caught by a domestic animal. Some internal injuries and puncture wounds are not obvious, and the animal should be checked over by a professional.

• A baby whose nest cannot be located.

If you determine that you do have an orphaned animal in need of assistance, Tucker offers these instructions for ensuring the baby has the best chance of survival. “Do not feed or give milk, water or anything to any animal until you first speak with a wildlife rehabilitator,” Tucker says.

Instead she advises to get the baby secure in a small box with soft, clean, string-free bedding and then warm it slowly if it is cold. “We want them warm and calm when they arrive, so we can immediately get started helping them,” she says. Stress is a primary cause of death in baby animals, so keeping handling to a minimum is vital, no matter how cute the baby.

The first litter of baby squirrels to arrive at WHR signals the tip of the spring breeding season iceberg, and Tucker and her crew are ready. “We expect to accept between 700 and 800 orphaned animals at the ranch by this June,” she predicts.

Her ultimate hope is that instead of taking matters into their own hands, people will ask for information and assistance when dealing with wildlife. “In my world,” she says, “there are no stupid questions when it comes to helping an animal.”