Sunday, May 16, 2010

Commonly asked questions

Given what we do here at CLAWS, rehabilitation, rescue and education, I get asked a lot of the same questions over and over. I’m going to answer some of those here.

“If this makes you cry, why do you do it?”. My standard response? “When I stop crying, I’ll know I’ve lost my heart and that is when I’ll stop doing it”
I’ve been told by other rehabbers that they expect 50% of squirrels to die for instance. Others “boast” about a 54% success rate. Honestly, if I had either of these situations, I would quit. Our success rate has consistently stayed above 75%. Every single one that can’t make it is heartbreaking. When they come in, I plan for every one to make it to become a wild member of their society again. Yes, that is a bit unrealistic, but if I do not plan for that, then more will die. I have to plan for the best, and regret the worst.

I’m also told all the time to stop being so hard on myself. With every “loss”, I question every tiny thing I did, trying to figure out what I did wrong. Yes, I realize that not every one is “meant” to make it. But, if I didn’t beat myself up and question myself, I would not be the rehabber I am. If an innocent animal has to die, I want to be sure that it was not in vain! I HAVE to learn from each death, to try to prevent either future deaths, or to know when a specific injury or illness is not fixable, so I know when to do the humane thing as quickly as possible and stop their pain. So yes, I do “beat myself up” with each “loss”, but I don’t intend to stop doing so. Every death will help future rehab animals!

What do I consider myself an expert in? Nothing. As many of a certain species as I may have rehabilitated, each individual animal is different and I’m determined to continue learning all the time. In my experience, those who consider themselves experts tend to stop learning and miss out on a lot of new, great tips, tricks and cures.
Do I know quite a bit about quite a few species? Yes, I believe I do. But what I have more than knowledge of specific species is knowledge of animals in general and a GREAT network of vets, other rehabbers and zoologists that I’m never afraid to ask questions of.

How do I handle the constant phone calls from people who just don’t’ want to listen?
I find it terribly sad that humans are, for the most part, so removed from nature that they do not even understand the basics. Often times not even the species of animal they are looking at. With every call, no matter how nasty the people can be, I try to use it as an opportunity to bring humans and nature closer together. It really isn’t their fault that they don’t understand. We aren’t taught these things in school, there aren’t billboards up explaining these things. Many people only learn by talking to rehabbers like myself.

It has to be so rewarding to do what you do! I always tell people, having been in Corporate America for over 23 years, this is THE most rewarding and THE most heartbreaking work I’ve ever done. Working at a desk for years, I made great money, but never really had any personal satisfaction, even though I was really good at what I did. Doing this, even with no pay, I feel I’m making a difference. I help animals and I educate people and try to help them learn to live in harmony with nature. What could be more rewarding? No, it doesn’t always turn out the way we want it to, even when we are trying to educate people. But it does turn out well much more often than it doesn’t.

Why do we do so many species? We “specialize” in a few species, but we have chosen not to discriminate against any species. If you understand the basics of a particular type of animal, you can use that knowledge to help you learn how to rehabilitate other similar species. This is how we do it. We are careful never to take in more than we can handle while ensuring that all rehabilitating and permanent animals all get the care that they need. How can we choose which species are “more worthy” of help than others? We do try to send the more commonly rehabilitated animals to other rehabbers that we trust to take great care of them, but if a situation calls for it, we will not turn an animal away.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask

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