Friday, December 31, 2010

CLAWS New Years Resolutions

As the year winds to a close and the New Year is quickly approaching, the humans tell us that we are supposed to make something called “New Years Resolutions”. They have informed us that this is a tradition among humans and think that somehow we could benefit from this as well.

The humans explained that a resolution is something like a promise to ourselves to work on something about ourselves that we would like to improve upon. And here we thought we were all perfect? How do you improve on perfection? Asked that, didn’t really get an answer, did get a smirk. What could that mean?

Well, not all of our friends have agreed to go along with this odd human tradition actually. The majority of the birds say they have no need to change a single thing about themselves, so it is mostly we mammals.

First there is Rocky the raccoon. Well, as perfect as he is, he says that he will try to keep his cage a little more neat and orderly. Oh, and he plans to try to stop pulling the sheetrock off the walls. For some strange reason that seems to bother the humans even though he finds it very entertaining.

Galileo the white fox, says he will try very hard to work on getting more comfortable with the leash and on being in front of crowds. He still thinks that having humans come to him would be better, since that is how he is comfortable, but the humans say “we only do outreach”, so he is going to work hard to get more comfortable going OUT in front of crowds and enjoying it.

Razzle the red raccoon says he will work on keeping his cage more clean and try to stop splashing water out of his water bucket all over what the humans used to call the dining room. They say it is ruining their floor. He says he’s a raccoon, what do they expect, but he’ll TRY.

Dazzle, the black raccoon, makes the same resolution, but adds that he will also try to exercise a bit more, eat a bit less and lose that weight the vet said he needs to. He still says he’s perfect the way he is, his plan to look like a bear is coming along nicely, but for sake of peace with his doctor, he will try.

Gadget, the smaller of the two gray foxes says she is going to really put forth an effort to stop trying to chew up mom’s computer and all the gadgets that go with it. Especially while she’s working, she says its really not helpful for me to take her mouse while she’s working. Even if cords are like the BEST thing in the world to chew on, since the humans say it is not a good thing to do, she’s going to work really hard to stop doing that.

Gidget, the other grey fox, says she is going to work very hard to like Galileo so that she can move back in the house where she belongs. She says it was just ONE time months and months ago, she thinks the humans should get over it and she didn’t really hurt him anyway. BUT, she will work on proving that she can be the perfect inside fox. Though she does not promise to share mom with others.

Kabuki, the kinkajous has said that he is going to try to come out more, be more social so that he can go back to doing programs. And he’s going to try to make friends with Rocky the raccoon, so that he can, once again do World Procyonid Wrestling shows. He misses Pooka and isn’t thrilled that he has to train another raccoon, but he says, for the sake of the family, he will try.

Huffalump, the new bearded dragon says she’s going to try to work on her weight problem. Eat less exercise more.

Odo, the short eared owl says that he will try harder to work better with humans other than the love of his life, Gina. He does say this will be very difficult for him because, after all, she is the perfect woman for him, but he is going to try, for the sake of the family!

And last, but by no means least, Mortimer has agreed to go into a 12 step program for banana addicts. He says he won’t be giving up bananas all together, but he is going to try to be more patient when he is getting them.

So, those are our New Years Resolutions. We figure this is an ok list, because we have heard that humans RARELY actually stick to theirs, so if we try it and it doesn’t work, it’s really no big deal, right? I mean, mom was gonna lose weight this year and trust us, she hasn’t done that! Heehee…please don’t tell her we told

Happy New Years to all of our fans and family from all of the animals here at CLAWS, Inc. We hope that you all have a wonderful 2011!!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dear Santa

Dear Santa CLAWS,

My name is Rocky and I’m one of many animals who live here at CLAWS, Inc. Since my hands work better than most, I was asked to write a letter to you from all of the animals here at CLAWS.

First, we promise, we have all been very good boys and girls this year (one look at my little face should tell you how sweet I am)! We have educated many, made many laugh and been generally either totally cute or stunningly gorgeous (I am both). So here is the list of things we would like you to consider putting under our tree this year:


  • Snugglesafe Heat Pads - these are great gadgets, you put in the microwave and hold heat for 12 hours

  • Squeaky toys - don’t tell dad, but we love them

  • Chew toys - ones that can withstand the largest of dogs

  • Shiny things - this can include rocks from aquariums, old keys, anything shiny that we raccoons can put in water.

  • Dog Beds - all sizes

  • Tug-o-war toys - foxes love this game!

  • Wooden Chew Toys

  • Coop Cup beds for like guinea pig sized animals


  • Bird Baths - the kind that sit on the ground AND the kind on pedestals, we need both

  • Bird Houses - big enough to hold a 5 inch tall owl, and some larger, like for barn owls

  • Table Perches - for all sized birds

  • Sturdy Leather - always needed for those things the feds say have to be on our legs

  • Suet

  • Suet holders


  • Bat houses

  • LOTS of meal worms!!!!!

  • Clorox wipes - apparently we are a messy lot

  • Paper Towels

  • Magic Erasers - mom says they truly are magical!

  • Medical supplies - contact mom at for a list of these

  • Powdered Goats Milk - you can buy this at Harris Teeter, it’s for baby mammals

    Rocky Balcoona

Friday, December 3, 2010

The truth about rabies

This will be one of our only blogs with no photo attached to it. The reason for this is that, in our experience, humans do not tend to fully read and we do not want anybody to look at a picture and assume that the animal has rabies. We do ask that you PLEASE read this entire blog and help educate yourself.
While rabies, if contracted, is a completely FATAL disease, it is also a completely preventable disease if you educate yourself and take appropriate actions.
We felt it was time to write this blog because CLAWS educates with 3 types of rabies vector species, raccoons, foxes and skunks. A vector species is a species that has a variant (type) of rabies named after it; the variants are raccoon, skunk, fox, bat and dog. Yes dog. And prior to the US adopting an aggressive vaccination program, dogs were the largest reservoir of rabies in the US. They still are in many other countries that do not require vaccinations.
All variants of rabies can be contracted and passed by all mammal species, and all are given the same vaccine for prevention. So, do not be confused by the fact that there is a name for a particular variant.
Rabies is a viral infection transmitted from saliva to blood (bite). This means you cannot contract the disease by petting an animal or having it walk through your back yard. It is actually a saliva to blood transfer, which can only be caused by either a bite or by a rabid animal drooling into a gaping, open wound.
It is also a very fragile disease that lives only approximately 3 seconds outside of the body. So, finding a dead animal, whether it died of rabies or not, is not typically a concern. Since, unless the animal died within 3 seconds of being found, the virus is dead.
Any mammal can contract rabies, and EVERY animal that contracts it does die within 3 months of exposure. The reason this takes so long is that it can take weeks and weeks for an animal (or human) to become sick from exposure. The disease can only be transmitted during the “shedding” (sick) period, which lasts about 7 days. Once that time has passed, the host animal dies. Meaning, even if the animal contracted the disease 3 months prior, it only was capable of passing it to another for the last 7 days of their life.
We hear all the time “oh, it had rabies because it was out during the day” or “it had rabies because it was acting funny”. There are NO true symptoms of rabies. We hear “mad rabies” and many other things that people think are actual variants of the disease. These are just SOME symptoms that can be present; however, there can also be NO symptoms present at all. For instance, being out during the day is not at all uncommon for raccoons except during the summer. They are opportunistic animals/scavengers, who will be out when food is most readily available. The same is said of skunks. Skunks are crepuscular, meaning up at dawn and dusk, both times of day when it’s light outside! These “old wives tales” do not help the animals, nor the humans!
Here is a quote directly from CDC’s website:

“In 1950, for example, 4,979 cases of rabies were reported among dogs, and 18 cases were reported among humans. Between 1980 and 1997, 95-247 cases were reported each year among dogs, and on average only two human cases were reported each year”
This DRASTIC improvement is due to the aggressive vaccination program previously mentioned.

Note that 12 of those cases in humans were contracted while on vacation in countries that do not vaccinate the way the US does.

We get asked SO often, when we are out, especially with our raccoons “does he have rabies”. NO is the answer. All but one of our rabies vector species were born in captivity in USDA licensed facilities, which are required to vaccinate their animals, as we are.
Even though we are very certain that our animals are rabies free, we still do not allow contact with the public and our animals. Not only to protect humans (from scratches, not rabies), but to protect our animals from the mass panic that seems to be prevalent in this area.
Right now, in the US, yes, wildlife are the largest reservoir of rabies, however, feral cats run a VERY close second.
As we teach in all of our programs, if you do not know the animal, DO NOT touch it, whether it be wild or domestic.
If you are bitten by an animal that you do not know, please contact a health care professional immediately. As we said, rabies is preventable. If you get a post exposure vaccine in time, you will NOT contract the disease, even if the animal was rabid.
If your pet is bitten by an animal you do not know, please contact your veterinarian. Even if your animal is up to date on their vaccines, it may be advisable to get a booster shot just to be safe.
Much more information can be found on CDC’s website at

NOTE: All CLAWS permanent volunteers are vaccinated against rabies and get our titers checked every two years. This is NOT because of the wildlife we deal with, but because of some of the exotic species we rescue.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pooka's Life with us

Pooka was brought to us in late November, very late at night. The people who asked us to take him said they had been raising a litter of four and this was the last one still living. They had kept them in a wooden box in a goat pen and fed them human milk once a day. No baby can survive on one feeding a day and human milk isn’t good for any animals, it isn’t even good for human babies under the age of one. They left him with us because they said they were tired of his crying.
The poor, tiny, sickly and filthy baby was handed to us and the people drove off, never contacting us again to see how he was.
He was crying pitifully and so filthy, we could not tell if he was male or female! After warming him up and feeding him, we weighed him. He was so tiny! He weighed 15 ounces. By the end of November, baby raccoons should weigh between 10 and 15 pounds. I made a very late night call to our vet, who said to bring him in first thing in the morning.
At the vet’s office, we cleaned him, tested him for distemper and determined that he was a boy and that his little body was starving to death. The vet was skeptical as to whether or not he would even survive.
We all immediately fell madly in love with this little darling, and worked very hard to ensure that he would not only make it, but become healthy! He began to grow and get very attached to us as well. He “helped” decorate our Christmas tree and by January he weighed a whopping 5 pounds. We decided to go ahead and neuter him, agreeing with the vet that he’d probably never grow large enough to safely survive in the wild.
We named him Pooka and he very quickly became the love of my life! I won’t say he was spoiled, since anybody who had gone through what he did deserved anything that could be provided for him and make him happy!
Soon after his surgery, Pooka began to grow, and by the time it was over, he was a whopping 29 pounds. We always said he didn’t grow until he was sure he wasn’t leaving.
He was raised around a lot of children, both my own children and those of my friends. He had his favorite games, one of which was sneaking up behind a small child, standing on his hind legs and calmly putting his hand on their shoulder. When the kids would jump, both Pooka and the child would laugh! He also loved playing “peek-a-coon”, which meant climbing quietly over the back of the couch and pouncing on the nearest unsuspecting head. LOL, He loved this game!
Pooka always had some issues from his “early childhood”. He was terrified of going outside unless I was with him. So, he stayed inside most of the time, but we did build him a play cage outside with a pool to play in the summer. I can’t count the number of times I had my clothing decorated with muddy raccoon paw prints.
Pooka started doing programs to educate children by the time he was a year old. He LOVED going to what he called “The People Zoo” and seeing the kids. He never did quite understand why he wasn’t allowed to get out of his show cage and play with them though. But, we had to be very careful so that the state would not say he had hurt anybody. If he knew we were leaving for a program and he wasn’t going, he would cry. When he saw his show cage, he would get excited. Even though he got car sick every time he was in the car, he still loved his visits with humans. He was wonderful at showing everybody just how great raccoons are at climbing and using their hands.
For the next 7 years, Pooka saw thousands and thousands of people. And here at home, he brought joy to our lives daily. If I got hurt, he felt it was always his job to make it better. Even old injuries that I’d forgotten about, he would fixate on and lick, trying to fix it. If he saw me cry, he would put a hand on each side of my face and lick until I laughed. He hated seeing anybody upset.
His best friend was a 6 pound, white Chihuahua. They would look like they were wrestling on a pro-wrestling team and people were always amazed that the dog was never hurt! During programs, we always put the kinkajous in his cage to show “World Procyonid Wrestling”. Pooka never hurt another living creature! He would wrestle, but he knew how to be careful, he knew his own strength.
At the vet’s office, he was an angel. I would hold him on my hip and the vets could give him shots and do his entire checkup with no worries.
Sadly, at the age of 8, Pooka stopped eating, but never complained. Within four days, it was determined that he had liver cancer and he died in my arms.
Pooka is the reason we started CLAWS and his memory is the reason we will continue to educate people about all of the species that we can. Especially those that are so misunderstood, like Pooka’s cousins in the raccoon family.
Nobody will ever replace Pooka, he was absolutely one of a kind. And we all feel honored to have shared his, too short, life with him.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Help me get my Magic Room!

Hi ya Tocho Tribal Nation! I thought it was about time I made my debut in the CLAWS blog world. After all, it’s not fair to keep all this cuteness to myself! Check out my photo album if you haven’t already. I am so cute they had to give me my own album ‘cuz they can’t stop takin’ pictures of me. I’m too sexy for my spots!

For those who don’t know me (you MUST be new!), here’s the Short Attention Span Theater version of my story. Somethin’ happened to my wild mom. Me and my siblings were sent to a nice lady. All my siblings died. Nice lady sends me to Kindra. Kindra takes me to a vet who says I have some kind of wobbly thing (editors note: cerebelar hypoplasia) and IF I live I can’t be wild ‘cuz I’ll always have the wobblys and could fall and hurt myself while jumpin’ and stuff. But somethin’ else was wrong ‘cuz I kept gettin’ sick and losin’ weight. Mommy K sat up with me many nights tryin’ to make me better. She was afraid I was gonna die. But I am a fighter! Turned out I don’t digest my food right and will need enzymes (they taste nasty and I don’t like them) and vitamins every day for the rest of my life. (Mommy K says they are still tryin’ to work out the exact doses, but I hope this is it, ‘cuz bein’ sick sucks.) This means I will have to stay at CLAWS. That works for me since I have these people wrapped ‘round my very large kitty paws and I have a bobdog.

That brings you up to speed. I know a lot of you have been followin’ my story from the beginnin’ and are already in love with me. I have a great fan club. You all have very good taste! One of those great fans is my adoptive Mommy Heidi. She’s been a great supporter of CLAWS and couldn’t resist me! Last week Mommy K took me to Mommy H’s house for a visit to get me out of the house and see if it would perk me up after a rough week. Auntie Carol came to visit too and we brought her adoptive furkid, my friend Rocky. He’s a cute little raccoon. Not as cute as me of course, but he might come in second.

Mommy H has the most awesomest room ever! You are outside and inside all at the same time! I soooo want one! I spend a lot of time looking out the window at home. I don’t get to go outside very much, and when I do there is a human hoverin’ over me crampin’ my style! I gotta figure out how to get one of those rooms. The bottom half is already there (that would be the back deck at the CLAWS facility). It just needs a top half. So I was talking to the Wolf Pack that lives in the room over the fence and told them about the magic room at Mommy H’s. None of them really cared ‘cuz they get to go outside. But my new friend, Gali the Great White Wolf (that would be Galileo the arctic marble fox), cared ‘cuz he doesn’t get to go when the rest of the Pack goes outside. So he’s excited now too. I think every Mountain Lion (that is what my name means) should have a Wolf for a friend.

We really, really, really want a magic inside/outside room. Mommy K says we don’t have the money right now ‘cuz of my vet bills and the other vet bill CLAWS still owes. So I gave her “the face” and she said that if I could find the money to buy materials (estimated to be about $1,000), I could have the room. I already have the labor lined up. I own Vinny and he is very useful. I have marked him as my own. ( Rocky has offered up his human, Damien, for labor. Lori said Blue Drew is a pushover and should be mine for a purr if more workers are needed. So that just leaves the money.

That’s where you guys, my wonderful, adoring fans come in! How much do you love me?! Show me the money! I would love you forever if you would go to the CLAWS website ( and click on the Paypal button and send me some money for my magic room. If you wanna send a check, ask Mommy K how.

Remember that painting I did a while back before I got so sick? It was rather good. Keep watch on the FaceBook page because Mommy K is figurin’ out how to auction it off to help pay for my magic room. It would be so great to be able to be out in the fresh air, but still be safe from the outside. I know I can’t ever be a cat out in the wild, but I am still a wild cat that needs to be outside…sometimes (don’t want to give up my cushy bed and stuff!). Because of my wobbly thing I can’t be out in a regular cage. I could climb the fence and fall and hurt myself. That would be bad.

Please help me get my magic indoor/outdoor room so I can take naps and play with my friends Gali and Rocky out in the fresh air. Thank you for caring about me and my friends here at CLAWS.

Mountain Lion (in her heart and mind, adorable Bobcat in reality)

Editors note: While Kindra may seem crazy, she is not crazy enough to have a Wolf Pack living in her living room. We are actually waiting until we get more land and a bigger facility to get wolves. Tocho’s Wolf Pack is the group of very small dogs (Chihuahuas, Pomeranian) and the fox who all have the heart of a wolf and a couple who even howl like one.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Today was a pretty run of the mill day here at CLAWS. Started out with feeding handfed babies, squirrels, flying squirrels and bunnies, then off to sweeping and mopping floors, and feeding of animals who are still fed more than once a day.
Then we got the first call….a duck at the animal shelter, then a call about a bird who was caught by a cat last night, and finally a call to pick up bird seed. Thankfully all of these places were near each other, so it was going to be a fairly easy time.
Vinny headed the other direction to go feed the fawn in Alamance County and off went Damien and myself to do pick ups. First came Mrs. Duck. A female mallard who had a cut on her foot. She was able to walk and fly and be a duck and the cut was actually quite minor. So, we got the location where she was found and out we went. While we were still in the parking lot, a man walked out with a dog he’d just adopted on a leash. The dog escaped and took off for the road, and off went Damien. Good thing too, because the man was not nearly fast enough. Damien got between the dog and the road and the dog ran up to him licking his face and making fast friends. The collar was not going to stay on this dog’s head, so I showed him how to use the leash as a collar to get the dog in his truck.
Off to pick up the bird. He’d been found the night before and put into a chicken coup. He had a hole under his wing, caused by the tooth of a cat.
Off to pick up 240 pounds of bird seed…YAY! And some new cat litter, as the type we’ve been using on the raccoons, is just too dusty!
Then down into Carrboro to drop off the duck back with her friends. She was quite happy to be back with her little family and to see the backside of humans. All we can do now is hope that she’s not picked up again for no good reason.
Home we went. Set up the bird in a cage and head to the yard to do some work. The flight cage had to be cleaned out and remulched for the new resident. This sounds like a simple job, and it was, just very strenuous in the heat and humidity. 20 bags of mulch later, a barred owl was enjoying the great outdoors and hoping to escape this larger, new prison very soon.
Then it was time to attack the 40some crates sitting around the deck and yard, awaiting power washing. Got all cleaned, neatly stacked and put into shelves. They are now awaiting new inhabitants. And we are hoping not to fill any of them anytime soon! It’s funny to see these stacks of crates, knowing we don’t need them currently and knowing that when things get really busy, we run our and are trying to figure out where to find more crates. Oh, the eb and flow of rehabbing….
Then it was time to come back inside. Short chat with the vet about Tocho and how she’s doing on her new medication, then Rocky and what he saw during his surgery. Tocho seems to be taking her new meds very well, and they seem to be working!!! YAY! Rocky shows signs of dwarfism, that definitely is a result of genetics, not an accident or anything. Then a short discussion about foxes….fun! Love talking to a vet who truly is interested in the interesting animals we share our lives with!
And of course, now it was time to start outside feedings, give hand feedings to little ones again and play with babies who really need playing! The Drazzles proved to us that any litter can be dissolved in water, with enough determination.
And now, it’s time to start on all of the nightly feedings……….

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Rocky's Arrival

All summer long, we receive phone calls from people who find baby raccoons that have lost their mothers. Because it is illegal to rehabilitate raccoons in North Carolina, and because I have a personal love for raccoons, these calls are particularly difficult for me to handle. All we can tell people is that we cannot legally help them. We receive more of these calls than many do, they are even sent to us by officers and other rehabbers, because we possess a permit to keep three raccoons permanently. This permit does not help in these situations; all of our raccoons have to come from captive settings. We still cannot rehabilitate them, or take illegal ones in on a permanent basis.
In July we received one such call from a woman who had raised a baby raccoon that had become very friendly to humans and she wanted to know if we could take him in as an educational animal. As many are, this woman was desperate to save this baby. She knew the law, understood the chances she had taken in raising this baby, and loved this baby very much.
After talking to her for a bit, I told her that we could only take this baby in if the state would give approval and a permit for the raccoon. The woman agreed to contact the state, seeking approval and we didn’t hear back from her. I assumed she had tried and the state had turned her down.
In mid-August, we realized something was wrong with our darling, permanent raccoon, Pooka. Given how close Pooka and I were, I knew that something was seriously wrong, even in the absence of what most would consider major symptoms. He wasn’t acting particularly bad, but he wasn’t eating like he normally did. I took him in to the vet on a Wednesday for some blood work, which showed nothing. I continued to watch him closely and worry. Within a few days, things got scary, Pooka had completely stopped eating, and lost so much weight that I could see his ribs, something you should never see in a raccoon. Then, on Friday evening, he vomited. I immediately called the vet and scheduled an appointment for Saturday morning at 8am. We sedated him and took an x-ray. The x-ray showed a large mass inside his abdomen. The vet put in barium to see if this mass was in his stomach and it wasn’t, which made it scarier. The vet said we had to do surgery to see what and where this mass was. At this point, he looked at me and said that, given how this mass looked, once we got in there, we may decide not to wake Pooka up from surgery. This was something I really was not prepared to hear. Though deep down I knew that something serious was going on, Pooka was only 8, and I was not ready to lose him. During surgery, the vet removed a round mass, a little larger than my fist that was slightly attached to his liver, and noted that Pooka’s liver was hard and not a normal color. Pooka made it through surgery, and he was sent home. Unfortunately, Pooka never fully woke up from his surgery. He passed away that evening, in my arms.
The loss of any animal is never good or welcome, but the loss of Pooka sent the whole family reeling. We were all in deep mourning over losing the CLAWS founder and a close family member.
Tuesday, after Pooka’s passing, I received another phone call from the woman with the baby raccoon, explaining that she had called the state, explained to them that we lost Pooka and they agreed to let us take in her baby raccoon, Rocky. I was more than a little shocked, both because I wasn’t sure how I felt about taking in another raccoon so soon after we lost Pooka, and simply because the state agreed. But, no matter what we were going through, being able to help one raccoon was more important than our feelings. So, we began arrangements to bring Rocky into our family.
Thankfully, this woman truly cared about Rocky and did consider him her responsibility. The state had given her until August 31 to turn Rocky over to us, so we needed to move quickly to get him prepared to live here at CLAWS. Several things needed to be done. All animals, even raccoons should be spayed and neutered, for their own health, even if there is no risk of mating, and we keep all of our animals up to date on their shots, of course. We decided that, it would be easier on Rocky to go through surgery with her, since he trusted her. So she made an appointment and got him neutered and all of his shots were given. This way he could recuperate with the only mom he had known so far, and not with strangers who love him, but he doesn’t know. Rocky came through surgery like a little champ. The vet informed us that he shows signs of possible dwarfism and may be some other issues. Just things to note for the future.
We set up a meeting time for Tuesday, one day before the deadline given by the state. In walked a very sad mom, carrying a precious bundle of joy!
Having to take Rocky from his mom was very tough to be honest. She very obviously loved him very, very much. But, we all knew that this was the best thing for Rocky. Trying to hide a raccoon is not easy and if he was ever discovered, he would be euthanized by law. One look at his darling little face and we were all very much in love.
After a very emotional parting, we brought Rocky home. We had thought we would change Rocky’s name, since it is such a common name for raccoons, but one look at his little face and the name just fit him too well, so we decided to keep the name given to him by his first mommy.
Once home we decided to have Rocky live in Damien’s room for his initial transition period into CLAWS. In the two days that we have had Rocky, he and Damien have developed quite the relationship. Sharing their little bachelor pad! Rocky has begun to really trust Damien and play with him like a brother. He also loves playing with the dogs, and making the cats scatter!
As sad as it has been to lose Pooka and as unsure as I was about taking another raccoon in so soon after losing him, Rocky has been a great addition to the CLAWS family and I am certain will help continue Pooka’s message to the public! We look forward to many happy years with this darling little boy as well as, I’m sure, many more blogs to tell you about his antics!
We want to thank Rocky’s original mommy for the wonderful care she gave him during her time with him! And for loving him enough to ensure he has a bright and very productive future!

Friday, August 27, 2010

As most of you know, CLAWS is run out of our home. This makes us different than a lot of facilities and more closely in tune with home rehabilitators. We do this because all animals that are in rehabilitation should have their sights back on being wild and free. In order to live a happy and healthy life as a wild animal, they all need a healthy fear of humans.
We have people tell us constantly that we should allow volunteers to come in and help us. Many say they’d be more than happy to clean cages, shovel poop, whatever. Don’t think these offers and concerns do not touch us, they absolutely do. But part of making the decision to open CLAWS included a decision to turn our home and lives over to the CLAWS mission, which means doing what is best for the animals, not what is more convenient or easier for us.
We know that people see other organizations that are run by either having volunteers come in and do all feedings, cleaning, and basic care, or that send most of their rehabilitating animals home with volunteers. Having done a lot of research, working with other organizations who have volunteers come in to feed, and watching the difference between wild animals raised with two humans at most seeing them, we truly believe that this gives them the best chance for survival and least risk of imprinting or habituation during rehabilitation. International wildlife organizations also say that seeing more than two people is not healthy for rehabilitating animals and our fawn permit very specifically states that our fawn cannot see more than two humans during their months in rehabilitation.
In North Carolina, it is illegal to send animals home with people who are not already permitted to rehabilitate on their own. So this is not something we could do, even with our apprenticing volunteers who we feel have the experience to do this. Also, at a federal level, it is never legal to send birds home, even for flight training, with any person who is not permitted by USF&W.
We do teach classes and apprentice new rehabilitators so that they can do this on their own. We feel that empowering others to do what we do helps animals and people more than keeping these people “under our thumb” to make sure they always do things exactly as we would. It also helps to get help into areas where they may be very few or no rehabilitators.
Having transporters this year has taken such a load off of our plate, we can’t even tell you! Our transporters have been WONDERFUL people, who have helped to give us more time to care for the animals and given us more support than many may know. And, for me personally, teaching the transporter classes has been more fun than any rehabilitation classes. We thank all of our previous, present and future transporters from the bottom of our hearts!
We are hoping, in the coming year, to help people who maybe cannot rehabilitate on the level that we do, but want to do some rehabilitating on their own, obtain permits yet have us triage their calls. This is how we intend to build a team of CLAWS rehabilitators. If this is something that may interest you, please keep up with the fan page and this blog.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

As usual, the morning started with mixing Tocho’s food (hoping for the right amount of medication every time), feeding all babies their first round and off to answering phone messages.
All the fawn are growing, spots are disappearing and man o man can they eat! LOTS of fawn kisses! Now time to wash the earlobes…yet again. LOL
Unfortunately, somebody had started calling at 1:30am last night, not giving us time to answer and hanging up without leaving a message. So I had turned off the ringer, just to stop hearing it. By the time I checked messages, I had three from the vet’s office where the new rescue is being neutered and given shots today. We will be taking him in on Monday. According to the vet, he may have some long term issues, but we are aware of them, so we know what to prepare for in the future.
Lady Di began her daily petition for indoor bird life. She truly does not believe that a kestrel of her standing should be forced to live outside, while her human subjects are inside, where she can see them!
As I was trying to explain to her that living inside with the mammals is probably not the safest way to live, I received a call from a man who picked up a fawn that was hit by a car last night and cannot use his/her back legs. Thankfully this man was very reasonable; we’ve had calls like this end with me being called “cold hearted” and many words I won’t publish here. Having seen this injury many, many times before and having tried our level best to save them, only to watch them suffer and eventually die, we no longer fight the inevitable, but do what we feel is truly best for the animal. As sad as it is, we have learned that the most humane thing to do is to end their suffering. It would be lovely to think, or say, that we can save them all, but the reality is, we cannot. And we have to be strong enough to know our limits and save their suffering. Thankfully, a vet in Greensboro agreed with our assessment and helped in this situation.
Meantime, Damien went off to spend time with the Drazzles. I’m really not sure who is training who in there, but all are getting along REALLY well! I think Razzle and Damien have some kind of strange redheaded bond, while Dazzle seems to think he and Kasha should take over the world, but is perfectly happy to allow Damien to fill in when Kasha’s not around.
And now, before it got too hot, it was time to start working again on the new falcon enclosure. This project would have been done two weeks ago, if emergencies didn’t keep popping up. And, as usual, no project goes without a hitch…the ground is strangely not level (is it ever?)! So, a bit of adjusting was worked out to ensure that the predator barrier is truly a barrier and not an open invitation. I still think this project will be done before the weekend. We’ll see how that goes, right?
Kasha called..oh yay, she’s off today, so let me send her out on errands. Darn, she doesn’t have the key, so much for those errands. Oh well, she will come over and play with Tocho for a while instead.
Back to the computer to talk to Tocho’s angel about her meds dosage. We are still working on it, but hopefully have more of a plan again. Tocho isn’t acting sick or anything, she just needs to digest her food better.
And now it’s time to work on release scheduling! We have quite a few birds to release and quite a few people waiting to release them, but we have to work out when and where for each bird. I’m hoping the next one (after this coming Sunday) is worked out now.
Tocho has decided that counters hold great treasures. She climbed up and found a rope, GREAT toy! Down she brought it to the floor and was rolling around having a wonderful time with it when Garby, the bobdog decided to join her. At first she wasn’t too sure she wanted to share, after all, she did do all the work to find this new toy. But eventually, playing with her buddy won out over being a selfish kitty and hogging the rope. After a vigorous game of tug-o-war, both tucked themselves away in their bed and fell asleep spooning.
Vinny has to go run errands, so before he leaves, we are going to discuss the next dump run and exactly when that HUGE pile of boxes can be taken to the recycling center. No resolution was found before he left.
While he was out he picked up a BEAUTIFUL mockingbird that had been caught by a cat. Unfortunately, the cat had not been kind. While the bird looked to be in perfect condition, her back was actually broken.
Another call from the rehabber in Arizona that we are helping to raise an elk. He’s almost ready to release, should be just a month or so now. Wow, fawn all over the world are all going to be released about the same time. How cool is that?
Oh yay, that loud noise was the Drazzles dumping their water across that room that used to be known as our dining room. If they keep this up, our floors will never be dirty! More towels to wash now…didn’t we just finish with fawn laundry? They really have to create more?
We received a call from a very panicked woman who had an injured fawn behind a chair on her deck. Knowing that, by this time of year, fawn are too dangerous for others to safely transport, very few questions were asked, we just went out to get the poor darling. I won’t be too graphic here. The smell alone let everybody know what a dire situation this was. Suffice it to say that the things a dog can do to a deer are quite disturbing. And for the third time in one day, we had to make that very difficult decision to end the suffering of an animal in pain.
And the feeding starts all over again

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Our Rescued Cavy Herd

Part of our mission here at CLAWS is providing refuge for animals that there are no established rescues for. The exotic pet trade in this country is booming. The internet has made it very easy for anybody to end up purchasing species from all over the world. Some can live comfortably and happily in the right homes, others are extremely difficult to properly feed and have habits that are unacceptable to live with for many people. Many become unwanted very quickly with no place to go.

Breeders and sellers will often tell people that these animals are easy to feed, train very easily, can be litter box trained, anything to make the easy sale. Often times none of this is true. We have sat and listened to sellers tell people that foxes or even sugar gliders are litter box trainable, neither are. Many of these animals are anything but easy to feed, requiring such specialized diets that it is almost impossible for most people to provide a healthy diet.

Most of these species have no place to go. You can’t drop them at a shelter, or they will most likely be euthanized simply because shelters do not have the means to care for them. There are few rescues that can handle such a variety of animals. For this reason, these are the animals that CLAWS is dedicated to helping.

When we take in a new species, we spend hours and hours researching on zoological and science sites, speaking to zoo nutritionists and exclusively exotic animal veterinarians to determine how best to feed and care for them. And once they are here, comfortable and settled, we research some more.

One such species is the Patagonian Cavy; a 25 pound rodent, from the South American grasslands in Patagonia. The word rodent means “the chew” or “to gnaw”, and these cavies are no different than any other rodent, only they have two inch long teeth with which to chew, which means the destruction to a home can incredible. They can also jump six feet into the air, and dig very long tunnels, so keeping them enclosed outside is expensive, to say the least. Yet these animals are sold on the pet market every day, for less than most mixed breeds of dogs are sold.
The first Patagonian Cavy we rescued was one named Mischief. Mischief was raised by a “road side zoo”, kept in a medium sized cat carrier except when he was taken out to have his picture taken with paying customers. He was purchased by one of these customers, when they could not bear watching him live in such conditions. They knew enough to know that he would not be a “good housepet”, and contacted us to see if we could provide him a home. He wound up loving going out to do educational program, made friends with many of the other animals here and generally turned into a very happy, healthy boy.

Next came Sam. His owner actually owned many exotic animals. But, when she moved, Sam’s sibling, and lifetime companion died and she had no place to safely house Sam. So, she asked us to keep him for four months. During that time, she planned to get her USDA permit and build an enclosure appropriate for Sam. She told us that Sam had been kept with a kinkajous and they ate the same food, even though their dietary needs are extremely different. Sam was very thin and his fur very brittle. After four months here, on a good diet, his began putting on weight and his fur grew in much healthier. Four months came and went, then six, then eight, etc., we tried many times to reach Sam’s previous owner, but their number was disconnected and they stopped answering email. Over a year after agreeing to “babysit” Sam, we were notified that the previous owner had left the state and did not want Sam back. Sam isn’t very people friendly, but is now healthy and very much enjoys living with our small herd of cavies.

Last came Miss Pris. Miss Pris was purchased by a young adult in New York, who lived in a small apartment. A 25 pound rodent doesn’t do well in a house, much less an apartment. As time went on, Miss Pris spent more and more time in her crate. Finally the young woman’s mother contacted us about putting her with our herd. It was a tough decision for this girl, she really did love Miss Pris, but she also realized that Miss Pris would be much happier living with her own kind, outside, in an enclosure where she can run, jump and play. Miss Pris loves living in our herd, and also loves humans! She is leash trained and goes to programs to help educate people quite happily. She has also been known to follow any small child who shows interest in her.

If you are considering getting an exotic pet, please do your research. Talk to more than just the person selling the animal, talk to a few people who have rescued some and find out why they are most often sent into rescue. Often you will find that they are not nearly as easy as sellers tell you they are to care for, or their personality changes so much as adults that living with them becomes unbearable for most households. We recommend working with a rescue who cares for the species and going at different times of the day. An animal who appears friendly and docile at 2pm can be aggressive and very fast at 10pm. Know exactly what you are getting into before getting a "pet", for your happiness and theirs.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Favorite Perches

There is no greater honor than to be chosen as a “Favorite Perch” by a CLAWS raptor. The birds definitely have preferences. Whenever possible, those preferences are accommodated so the birds have as enjoyable a time at an event or program as possible.

Anyone who has been to an event and witnessed the total adoration Styx exhibits when Vinny is holding her knows who her preference is! She doesn’t take her eyes off him the entire time and looks at him like he is the greatest thing since freshly killed mice! She’s OK if someone else holds her, but if Vinny is there she watches him the entire time. But if she sees her man holding another bird, she pouts. Yes, owls pout. They squat like a chicken and droop their wings.

Then there is Odo who doesn’t care who you are as long as you have red hair. He’s a bit on the shallow side. If you have red hair, you’re in. When he first came to CLAWS, Kindra’s hair was red, he loved her. Now that she has changed hair color, he doesn’t care for her so much. He is uncooperative about loading and unloading from his crate for her. However, for Gina (who is a redhead) he will step off the glove and walk right into his crate when he is done. The last time he waited until he was sure Kindra was watching before putting himself away.

Which brings us to my all time favorite…Alf. The last fundraising event we had there was a special young girl who wanted to have her picture taken with him. I got her a small raptor glove and transferred him to her hand. If looks could kill, I would have burst into flame on the spot! Being the consummate showman, he looked his normal regal self for the picture. However, when I took him back, the tantrum began! I happened to be wearing the fingerless leather gloves I always wore when holding him. He knew EXACTLY where those gloves ended. In addition to the “look of death” and overachieving owl pout, he sidestepped until he had one foot on my bare finger, then turned it into a vise and clamped down. While not immediately all that painful, after about 15 minutes when your finger is bright red and throbbing and has also been impaled by a couple of talons, with no end in sight, it does become quite uncomfortable. People thought the tears in my eyes were due to the pain, and I had to explain that they were actually caused by the effort it was taking not to burst out laughing at his tantrum. I finally had to put him up for a while so he could get over himself, and so he would let go of my finger!

After his “time-out”, he decided that I had been sufficiently punished, and he was back to his normal worship-worthy self.

Each animal has their own unique personality and quirks. We are very privileged to be able to share in their lives and educate other people about their special place in this world. We thank you for reading our blog and hope you are inspired by the work CLAWS does with the wildlife of North Carolina and the special animals with no other place to go who now call CLAWS their home.

Screech Owl Fanatic

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Buhzzerd with Rabies (NOT)

As most rehabbers do, we get calls of all kinds of people. Some sad, some that make us angry, others that make us laugh. Some may make you laugh. We thought we might share a few with you, here and there, on this blog, as long as they are not hurtful to the person who called.
This story, of one of our calls, is meant to make you laugh. Understand, it truly is not meant to put anybody down (note we do not use names ever), just to give you a laugh.
The caller’s voice should be heard in a very heavy southern accent. Not like an antebellum accent, but a very backwoods southern accent. Without this accent, the story really isn’t so funny.

Me, “CLAWS, may I help you?”

Caller, “yeah, I got a buhzzerd in ma backyawrd and its haid is all red and it’s got thet thar raybies”

Me, “sir, birds do not get rabies” (ok, technically they apparently can, but they do not pass it to humans, and it’s not certain that they do)

Caller, “but this is a buhzzerd”

Me, “yes, I know sir, and birds do not get rabies”

Caller, “but it’s a buhzzerd” (getting more insistent)

Me, “ok sir, does this buzzard have feathers?”

Caller, “well a course it duz, it’s a buhzzerd”

Me, “sir, if it has feathers, then it is a bird and it does not have rabies”

Caller, “well then it’s got thet thar west nahle virus”

Me, “sir, west Nile virus comes from mosquitoes, not birds”
Caller, “then it’s got thet thar burd flu”

Me, “sir, we do not have bird flu in this country yet”

Caller, “well, its gunna gimme sumpin”

Me, “sir, what is the bird doing, so far, all you have told me is that a turkey vulture, they all have red heads, is in your back yard”

Caller, “it’s got a red head, it has raybies! We caught it in a nyet, you need to come git it”
At this point I realized the best thing for the bird was to just get it out of there.
Me, “sir, can you tell me where you live please?”

Caller, “in across from the nursary”

I’m thinking a place that grows plants and that there is probably more than one in this city? AND that I’m not going to get these directions easily, so it’s best to pass the phone to Vinny, he’s better with directions.

After several minutes of trying to get directions to his street, “Mill Crake”, Vinny just asked for an address so that we could GPS it, getting directions from a man who had obviously lived in this town for his whole life and thought that everybody knew were every business was, wasn’t going to work. Especially since this isn’t the city we live in and we aren’t from here.

So, off all four of us went, because it typically takes more than a couple of people to capture a vulture.

After passing 4 plant nurseries in this small city, I realized it was a REALLY good thing we GPSed this address AND that the “nursary” was a daycare.

When we got there, we found a perfectly healthy turkey vulture, tangled to pieces in a huge piece of net, rolling all over the yard, getting more and more tangled. We got the bird out, put it in a carrier and left, the man still insisting it had “raybies”

Usually the most interesting part of rehabbing is the humans and the misconceptions of animals that they have.

We hope you took this blog in good humor, as it was meant. The vulture is now living wild, healthy with a new vulture family!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Galileo's journey

We rescued Galileo, an “arctic marble” fox in November of 2008. Galileo’s story was fuzzy at best. In fact, we received at least 5 different stories about where he came from before we finally met the woman to pick him up. All stories included being kept at some college (that kept changing), sometimes in a dorm, sometimes in a fraternity house. All ended with him being 3 months old, which we knew was impossible by November for a fox.
A volunteer/friend and, finally met her, at a veterinarian’s office, because they very nicely offered to let us use an indoor run that would prevent him from escaping while we transferred him from one crate to another. Seemed odd to us that he wasn’t at all handleable, if he had truly been raised as a pet in either a dorm or fraternity house? But, but nobody was going to risk a fox being on the loose.
When we arrived at the vet’s office the first thing that hit us was the smell! It was VILE! We took one look inside the crate and found a yellow, stinking, terrified, skinny fox with a very red upper muzzle sitting on urine and feces covered pine straw. It looked like he had been in this same medium sized cat crate, in his own filth for at least DAYS if not longer!
The woman who was turning him over to us very excitedly and nicely said that we were welcome to just trade crates with her and take him in her crate. Not being able to stand seeing any animal in that kind of filth for any longer than it would take to open the door the answer was an absolute NO (though it was said politely)! So, off we went to the back room with the indoor run. I walked into the 3 foot by 6 foot run with both crates, one clean and empty, one filthy and full of fox and filth. The plan was just to have him shift from one to the other, with me closed into this very small space, by just tipping one crate into the other crate.
This plan was working really well….UNTIL…the woman, who was out of the line of sight, spoke, then the poor fox freaked out, climbed the solid, brick wall and flew at my face. Not intending to hurt me, just trying to get away from that voice. She was very happily explaining that his nose was red because “he was such a little pill to net this morning”. A few alarm bells went off in my head when she talked about netting him, but the rest of my mind was occupied, dodging a flying fox.
So now I have two crates that are each almost 2 feet wide, about 2 and a half feet long, facing each other and taking up most of the floor space of the enclosure we are in; and I have almost no room to move and a fox, bouncing off the walls, quite literally. There was no way to get the filthy crate out without risking having a loose fox in the practice. Every time I’d start to get him calm enough to scoop him into the clean crate the woman would speak again and again he would climb the walls to escape! One of the vet techs caught my eye, and message and got the woman to leave the room after 30 minutes of this. The vet tech was then able to slide something under the door of the enclosure we were in and help guide him into the clean crate.
Off the lady went, very proud of having “helped” this fox. And off we went, with a filthy, smelling, skinny fox on our way home.
Once home, we put the fox in a quarantine room, by himself and realized just how skinny and how terrified of humans (though supposedly raised as a pet) he was.
Two days later, we took him to our vet, who sedated him. Three of us spent an hour giving him the biggest bath in history! We found that he weighed 6 pounds (half of what he should have weighed), he got all of his shots (which he’d never had before) and was neutered. At that point we found out he was nowhere as young as the 3 months we were told, he was a minimum of a year old AND the red on the top of his muzzle was because the woman had broken the bridge of his nose netting him to crate him; he later lost his upper canines from this injury. Even with the great bath, the poor guy was still very yellow and remained so for several months (his fur was so stained from living in urine and filth), but he no longer smelled of urine and feces. So, off we went home to try to earn his trust.
A month of going in with him, offering food, sitting and reading to him, sitting quietly with him, calling experts, trying every “trick” we could think of or were told about, we tried it, and he was still terrified and snarling at us. Already having two arctic marble foxes, which he could not be introduced to, because they are too bonded to each other, and whom we cannot handle we were getting desperate!
So, as I was sitting, crying and thinking, Mushu, our 5 pound Pomeranian, whom we call “out greeter”, jumped into my lap, waving, as she always does when she wants attention. Then it dawned on me. Our last resort in trying to make friends with the fox we now called Galileo. Mushu! She loves EVERYBODY, welcomes everybody, and it didn’t hurt that she only weighed a pound less than he did and has over 6 inch long fur. I figured if things went wrong, I could get her away from him before he could hurt her.
Got a few weird looks when I announced my plan, but, Mushu thought it was a great idea, so she followed Vinny and I back to the quarantine room and in she walked, us behind her, we closed the door (with us inside and held our breath). Galileo was doing what he always did, hiding behind a box. Mushu walked in, stood in the middle of the room, sat down and started waving toward him. At first I got a bit worried, I hadn’t seen Galileo move so quickly since the day he and I were in the run together. He flew from behind the box, hit the floor on his belly, ENTIRE body wiggling so much he was almost convulsing and his tail stood STRAIGHT up in the air (for those who don’t deal with foxes daily, this is a good thing). I have NEVER seen an animal SO happy in my life!!! The smile on his face brought tears to my eyes. Yes, foxes do indeed smile!
Vinny and I looked at each other in amazement, Mushu had done it again! And so she turned to the door and looked at us like “ok, let’s go”. Well, ok, let’s see how he is meeting the rest of the dogs? Off we went to the living room, fox and Mushu leading. WOW, seeing 4 other dogs made him even happier than he had been when he saw Mushu!
Now foxes are NOT pack animals as adults, so what was with this behavior? He shouldn’t be having FUN with DOGS! We later found, after working with our vet that Galileo’s early nutrition was so poor that his adrenal glands never kicked in, so mentally he will never grow past a kit. Which means he is quite happy to remain a pack animal and more than that, at the bottom of the pack. Which, in this case is good, since Mushu is the largest of our dogs, the others are all 3 pound Chihuahuas, all of whom love to show that they can actually dominate him. Not that they are mean to Galileo, do not get me wrong, they just take great pride in knowing that a now 12 pound fox, will submit to them if asked! Always runs up, flips on his back, smiles and shows them his belly!
Very shortly after that day, we were able to pet, then brush, then pick up Galileo whenever we wanted. Now he sleeps on my desk as I work, allowing me to kiss his nose at will, ok, sometimes demanding this. I can cut his nails easier than I cut any of the dogs’ nails, and love on him at will! He’s even amazed our USDA inspector at his lack of nervous behavior. A fox normally acts nervous, not Galileo!
He has since made friends with two skunks, a raccoon and a bunch of cats, who actually don’t like him, but we don’t tell him, we don’t want to hurt his feelings. He “borrows” my things as a game, in the hopes that I will chase and “catch” him so he can get yet another nose kiss. If I don’t happen to, he will pass the treasure to the raccoon who will then proceed to take it apart. Yes, we have lost 8 cell phones this way. ALL worth it to see the sparkle in this beautiful boy’s eyes!
He is now bright white, a perfect weight and as healthy as can be! He will always have some damage from poor early nutrition, such as loose tendons in his ankles. As I type this, he is sleeping on the third level of a 5 level cat tree, cats on all other levels and quite content.
While his life didn’t start easily, or happily, it has become a very happy, very calm, playful and fulfilling life. He is a welcome member of the CLAWS family!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fundraising Chaircoon Appointed!

Hi. Pooka here. Kindra has finally gone to bed so I have snuck out to use her computer. I have to make sure I don’t give in to temptation and pull the keys off the keyboard. It is soooo much fun, but I can never remember the order they go in to put them back. Anyhoo, I need some human help.

All the humans around here are so busy taking care of the animals they don’t have time to raise money. And let me tell you, we animals are expensive to care for. I have a certain lifestyle I’ve grown accustomed to and need to be sure it is maintained (and eventually improved…I want my own room!). So I have appointed myself Chaircoon of the CLAWS Fundraising Committee. Since school is out, I’m not doing as many school programs and have some time on my hands, so the Kinkapoodle (he hates it when I call him that!) and I planned out a few fundraising events. Now we need some humans to help put them into action.

I need schmoozers. Schmoozers are special people with the gift to charm other people out of stuff. People who aren’t afraid to ask their fellow humans for things and money. I need people who can go around to restaurants and businesses and stores and ask them to donate something we can use for prizes and raffles for events. I can provide you with some information about us so you can take it with you to places you ask for stuff. I’d do it myself, but I can’t drive and regular people don’t understand me so we’ve got the whole communication gap thing happenin’. Not to mention the freak out factor if I happened to walk into a restaurant! So I need people to be my agents.

The other thing I really need is places to host our various events. Lori calls them venues. I really want a place where Kindra can have a dance. They want a ballroom. Why they want to dance in a room full of balls is beyond me. But she is my favorite human and I like her to be happy. The problem is that I have no allowance to pay for these venues. So we need generous people that will let us use their place for free or sponsors that will pay the rental fee for me. We also want to have some more car washes if you could locate some easy to find high traffic places that would let us wash cars.

CLAWS is blessed by the IRS so donations to us are tax deductible. From what I have been able to understand, humans don’t like this IRS tax thing much, but the tax deductible is a good thing. *shaking head* All that is very confusing and makes my head hurt, I need some blueberries.

Come be one of Pooka’s People and help me bring in lots of money for the animals of CLAWS. I am looking forward to hearing from you! Since I can’t always check email (Kindra doesn’t sleep enough), please email my new minion (she has been masterless since the passing of our beloved Alf, so I took pity on her and gave her someone to serve) at As a matter of fact, she is going to post this for me tomorrow because this whole Facebook thing is beyond the scope of my attention span. I’m amazed I managed to stay focused long enough to finish this blog…and the keys are all still on the keyboard!

We are looking forward to hearing from you very soon and having your help!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Isn't it time to re-educate ourselves?

This was my personal status a week or two ago:
“Once we lived with nature, cooperated with her and understood her, then we "evolved". Now, we have "evolved" so much and taken so much of nature away, that, once again, we have forced nature to live with us. It's time to "evolve" again and learn to understand nature.....are YOU up to the challenge?”

I thought I’d take this time to explain this in more detail.

With the change in phone calls about native wildlife that we have been receiving for the last few years, something has been striking me about our ever changing world. We, humans, as a species have gotten so far away from Nature that we truly do not understand what it does or how it behaves anymore. We think we are somehow responsible for making Nature work? We have forgotten that Nature takes care of Nature in wonderful and much more positive ways. We used to understand this!

Once, our ancestors lived off the land, in cooperation with Nature. They knew how foxes, deer, bear, skunks, and all other species in their area lived, what their habits were; when they moved, how to live in harmony with them and only take from them what was needed. They knew the best time to grow what plants for food and beauty.

We didn’t have refrigeration, so we only killed what we could store and keep safely. The rest was used for clothing, blankets, and other useful items. Our gardens contained enough food to feed our family, our extended family and to use for barter with others. Excess was not something that most humans knew or wanted. In fact, for the most part, it was frowned upon.

As humans have “evolved” and come up with great new inventions, such as refrigeration, air conditioning, cars, etc. we have changed the nature of nature (last part of statement borrowed from Leland, thanks Leland!). Not having to use our feet or horses to get around anymore has made us much more mobile much more quickly. New ways to build, with newer technology has lead to massive, constant building, taking huge, natural areas and making them into big cities. Now we “create” natural areas inside of the artificial environment that we have created. Most of these natural areas contain plants and other things that aren’t even natural to the areas they are put in.

In an effort to survive, Nature is changing to live in this new “environment” that we are creating for it. We never used to get calls about foxes in yards during the day unless something was wrong. We’d never before gotten a bobcat in on rehabilitation. These animals are usually so elusive, that even if they are in trouble, humans never come upon them. In fact, the number of fawn coming into rehabilitation when they truly weren’t in need is increasing year by year. Why is all of this going on? Are more animals really in trouble?

No. Humans have moved into so much of these animals’ natural environment that the animals are “evolving” and adjusting to live WITH us instead of fighting against us. Fewer are showing true fear (which is important for their survival) toward humans. We’ve even witnessed does parking their fawn on people’s back decks, presuming they are safe and fox kits looking into sliding glass doors.

We are continually called to "green" neighborhoods that put so many chemicals on their lawns that they are poisoning native species, like baby bunnies, which in turn poison the hawks who eat them. We have gone into these same neighborhoods and listened as people very proudly explained how the sharp wires that they put around their ponds (which are not visible by humans, so as not to detract from the look of the pond) to keep geese ("messy creatures, aren't they?") out. All the while they are bragging about these wires keeping out the geese, they are explaining how this same sharp wire cut off the foot of a great blue heron. At that point, the same people bragging about this "wonderful wire", makes the statement "we have to take care of our wildlife", meaning the heron, not the geese. Nobody seems upset when the bunnies and geese are harmed (though they do want the bodies removed quickly), but having hawks and herons hurt is something they don't like and don't seem to understand that making a very green area unnaturally green is creating this problem!

Whose right is it to determine which wildlife is desired, acceptable and which are not?

We have given wildlife no choice but to live with us, yet most of us do not understand them nor do we want to live with them. This leaves two choices for wildlife; we kill them all, because we fear them, or we educate ourselves about these beautiful creatures and evolve yet again so that we may all live in harmony once again.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Every Guy's Dream Job

Oy Vey! Boy am I tired! I just want to sleep for about a month. But this strange blonde lady won’t leave me alone ‘til I write this. Apparently the mammals elected me to write this week’s blog because I was the only one not at the meeting. Somehow I’m thinkin’ this is unfair. I guess I should introduce myself. I am Twizzler, CLAWS’s spotted skunk. I think perhaps the person who “discovered” us was maybe a heavy drinker since I have looked and I don’t have any spots. I have swirly stripes. I guess Spotted Skunk is easer to say than Swirly Striped Skunk. Try saying that three times fast.

Do you know what kind of pressure there is to be responsible for keeping your species from disappearing? Of course you don’t. You humans breed like rabbits. You’re everywhere; you certainly aren’t endangered. But spotted skunks are. In Florida we are classified as “threatened”. Kindra says we’re listed as “rare” here in North Carolina, but no one is allowed to help my wild cousins. People are a little squirrely about skunks here. We are a very misunderstood animal.

See, in Florida, they get us. They understand we are important for a healthy environment. (We are not rabid monsters who are after your children.) They contacted CLAWS and asked them to see if I would help save my species by mating and making more of me. Are they kidding? The blonde says we have to keep this G-rated, so let me try to be delicate…But seriously, isn’t that every guy’s dream job? I just wish they’d’ve asked me sooner. That is a lot of pressure for an old man. They don’t make little blue pills for skunks.

So that’s why I’m so tired and just want to sleep for a month. I just got back from South Carolina where I did my best to be an overachiever in the Romeo department. She was smilin’ when I left, so we’ll have to wait and see.

I am happy to report that in the Sponsorship Contest between the mammals and the birds, the mammals are winning! Currently the score stands at Mammals – 7 and Birds – 5. We want to keep that streak going. So if there is anybody out there who could find a soft spot in your heart for an old man under a lot of pressure and pony up $100 for my sponsorship fee, that would make me and my mammal friends very happy.

Ok, now I am going to sleep for about a month. I hope I have a sponsor when I wake up. Goodnight people.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Sponsor a Raptor in Rehab

Hello humans. I was supposed to do this last week, but I was too busy trying to rip that annoying man’s face off. [that would be Vinny] I wish these stupid feathers would hurry up and finish growing in so I can get the flight out of here. ‘Course, first I gotta figure out HOW to fly. My first attempt didn’t go so good. I kept buggin’ mom that I was ready for flight school. She said I had to wait til all my feathers grew in. I got feathers! Mom insisted they weren’t the right kind of feathers. I figured she was fibbin’ cuz she didn’t want to teach me how to fly cuz she was too busy doing mom stuff. Apparently not.

You shoulda seen me tho. I launched myself off that branch into the air and for just a moment, everything was great! Whee! I’m flyin! Yeah, right. Next thing I knew I was dropping faster than a pellet. As a matter of fact, that is exactly what I landed on…a pile of pellets at the bottom of our tree. Then to make matters worse, Mom flies down to inform me that there is no way for her to get me back up in the nest and this is what I get for not listening to her in the first place. Well, pellets.

So I had to wait for some human to find me. Just for the record, you guys need to grow some feathers…you are all very ugly up close. The stuff nightmares are made of. Anyway, I ended up here at CLAWS. They don’t have any feathers either. They promise to let me go as soon as I can prove that I can fly and catch my own food. I don’t believe them. But I am workin on my plan to escape. I will make them fear for their lives. Then they will let me go to save themselves. Altho they do feed me good things.

There are 3 other young owls and a hawk being held prisoner with me in the juvi wing. Rumor has it there are other raptors being held in a different section of the compound. If you would like to help keep me in comfort while I am being held captive until my feathers come in, you can contact and sponsor me [raptor rehab sponsor fee is $150]. If you sponsor one of the other raptors, you will be allowed to “toss it” back to freedom when the time comes. If you choose to sponsor me, the lady says you can set somebody else free. My plan is working and she is already afraid of me. She should be. I may not be able to fly yet, but I can kill her. She is afraid I will hurt a regular person. Not sure who the “regular” people are, but you are all fair game as far as I am concerned. If I never see another human up close and personal after I am set free, it will be just fine with me!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tocho needs your hope and help

Tocho has become one of CLAWS 2010 rehabilitation favorites for many people. At least many of her pictures have.
She came to CLAWS as a two week old bobcat kitten, from another rehabber who had lost her 3 siblings and could not figure out why. For several weeks, Tocho flourished and thrived here at CLAWS. She has been such a pleasure to rehabilitate, especially because having bobcats in rehabilitation is so rare.
Right about the time Tocho turned five weeks old, just as serious toddling began, things started to become worrisome. She spent one entire day acting very strangely, uncoordinated, lethargic and just “off”. With only one caretaker, Kindra is intimately aware of all of Tocho’s behaviors, so she immediately noticed something was just not right and became very concerned.
Understanding that everybody needs a little help sometimes, Kindra started making calls to several friends and associates and finally spoke with a prominent breeder of bobcats, who has been breeding them for decades. She was assured that this was normal at Tocho’s age. What she explained was very similar to a human child’s growth spurt at six weeks of age. She did say to go ahead and give her some antibiotics for three days, just in case.
Much relieved, Kindra gave her a dose of antibiotics and waited. Very suddenly, at 2am, Tocho started acting quite normally and becoming the playful kitty that she should be.
Well, 4 days after Kindra stopped the antibiotics, Tocho took a serious turn for the worse which had Kindra in a full on panic. This episode was much, much worse than before. She was having severe tremors, almost to the point of seizures, could not focus on anything, and when she tried to take her bottle, her front legs would stiffen, flail frantically and she could not suck properly, simply swallow as the formula was put into her mouth. Panicked, Kindra emailed the vet, who answered at 5am saying to bring her in. At this point this had been going on for just over a week. Well, that was a Friday and the vet’s schedule was too busy, so an appointment was made for the upcoming Monday.
The weekend went by with just a few “episodes” with Tocho. Kindra put her back on antibiotics, as the vet agreed she should and things went by alright, not as scary as the Thursday night before but still a bit unfocused and having tremors.
Monday came, Tocho could not have a bottle after midnight, so, by her 11:30 am appointment, she was VERY hungry and a bit cranky, for her that is, for most, not so much. She was really such a little trooper during the whole visit! The vet tried not to have to sedate her for her blood test, but that stressed her out too badly. And, not having had a bottle (meaning no fluids) for so long, her blood wasn’t cooperating very well and she had to be sedated. She only weighed 1 7/8 pounds, so only 5ccs of blood could be safely taken. This was enough for quite a few tests, though it was thought, at that time, that we may wait a week to allow her to build her blood supply back and run more tests a week later.
Unfortunately, the tests cost much more than Kindra expected, over $400, even with a nice discount from the vet. Luckily, between her blood tests and the physical exam, the vet was able to rule out anything contagious or actually life threatening. At this point, it was determined that more tests were most likely not necessary at this time, and a diagnosis was made, based on her having “intention tremors”, apparently common in cats with the diagnosis she received. Her diagnosis was given as the equivalent of kitty cerebral palsy (called cerebellar hypoplasia or “spastic cat syndrome”). To read about this condition and it’s cause, you can go to these two sites and

Which is better than what was previously suspected, diabetes. So no daily shots. Though, still not what any of us wanted to hear.
What does this mean for Miss Tocho? Well, a lifetime of tremors and special attention to safety, so that if she has bad episodes, she does not hurt herself. She can live a long and happy life, but there are still the current expenses to pay for and possible future expenses.
There is still a small chance this could be a thiamine issue, something which prevents her from absorbing properly, but it is not looking that way.
We are asking that you please keep Tocho in your thoughts. Any and all donations toward her medical expenses would also be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Baby Deer - Almost as Cute as Me!

Pooka here. This week’s animal blog is about the fawn. Normally the blog is written by the featured animal. However, if we did that this week the entire blog would be “Who are you?! Where’s my mama?! I'm Hungry!! I WANT MY MAMA!!!” repeated over and over. So to make it a little more interesting and informative, I volunteered to tell you their story.

We’ve been looking for sponsors for all of us permanent animals. This week we are looking for people who have a special place in their hearts for fawn, baby deer, or bambi. Those little suckers are expensive to feed. I hate spring rehab season. Mom (Kindra) is so busy feeding and trying to talk sense into all the people who want to deernap the babies out of the wild cuz they don’t understand how nature works that she doesn’t have any Pooka play time. I think this should be an official crime. Some babies really do need help cuz something bad happened to them (attacked by a dog, run over with one of those big farm mower thingys) or to their mom (usually getting killed by a car).

Price of admission to CLAWS animal resort is supposed to be injury or orphanism (Lori insists that isn’t a word but I like it). But most of the guys who are here now were deernapped. Or is that fawnnapped? It is the equivalent of your child being kidnapped out of your backyard. Mom says we can’t just put them back cuz they’ve been gone too long and their mom wouldn’t expect them to come back. Unlike human children, baby deer do NOT wander off when mom tells them to stay somewhere.

Anyhoo, between all the healthy ‘napped babies, the orphans, and the hurt ones, there are a LOT, really a lot, of mouths to feed. That’s where you wonderful people come in. You guys have money. We animals don’t have any money. No pockets. Well the bettongs have pockets, but they are usually full of babies. Oh, right, back on topic. Money. We need money to buy formula. You can donate money to CLAWS or you can call the farm supply place (Piedmont Feed 919-942- 7848) and buy formula right over the phone. They will hold it for us ‘til I send my manservant to fetch it. How easy is that? You don’t even have to leave your house. I think a bucket of formula is about $25. When there are lots of babies here, they can burn through a whole bucket in just one day! That’s a LOT of formula.

You can also donate gas cards. Those are very helpful because my humans have to drive a lot to go pick up all these fawn. They are spread out all over the place. Like 4 or 5 different counties. Whatever those are. Plus when the babies get bigger, they will go to a release pen. Then my humans will have to drive there twice a day to feed everybody until they are ready to go back into the wild.

For $100, you can sponsor a rehabbing fawn. Contact mom for details on that.

And for you haters who think there are too many deer and why does CLAWS bother especially if it is so expensive, I say all babies deserve a chance. (Lori says I can’t say that, but I say raccoons have opinions too and people need to learn to share the space!) So for all you wonderful people who DO get it, won’t you please help a baby out and buy some formula? Contact my mom (Kindra) by posting on the CLAWS fan page, or emailing her ( if you are interested in sponsoring a rehabbing fawn. Be sure to pass the blog link along to your friends who might not be fans of CLAWS yet!


The World’s Most Fabulous Raccoon Ever