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Wildlife Care of SoCal: A Second Chance for Wild Animals

By Rebecca Gaunt

Volunteers are working hard to help injured, orphaned and displaced animals in Southern California. Wildlife Care of SoCal, formerly Wildlife Care of Ventura County, was founded in 1994 when residents saw the effect that urbanization was having on wildlife. The nonprofit operates via a network of specialized and coordinated rehabilitators who work out of their homes and are permitted to work with all native wildlife, except bear, deer and mountain lions. They are responsible for taking histories, giving examinations, treating wounds, administering fluids, and antibiotics, and putting the animal on a proper diet.

Executive Director Anna Reams says, "My inspiration is that I am caring for animals that would otherwise be euthanized. What got me started was I found an injured duck and called around looking for help, and there was no help other than euthanasia. That was 20 years ago. Today there are nonprofits like ours people can call for help and direction."

Many of the volunteers specialize in one or more types of animals, such as bobcats, coyotes, skunks, and bats. The organization's website offers handy tips for the public on when to intervene and when to leave the animals alone, as well as advice on how to handle and transport them to the rehab location.

"We received a badger from Thousand Oaks that had multiple bites. He was full of infection and at half of his weight," Reams says of one of their miraculous saves. "Being the first badger we had ever received, we gave it a shot and it took over three months of recovery time in a crate with daily care and medications. But he recovered completely other than he had a hearing deficit from the infection, so was not releasable. We had him for education for four years and then placed him in a larger facility where more people could learn from and about him."

Though Wildlife Care of SoCal coordinates with government agencies, it receives no funding from the state or federal government. The organization is a 501c3 and relies on contributions to operate. Fortunately, the community has been very supportive of the endeavor since donations of money and supplies are needed to cover the cost of education, cages, food, medication and veterinary care.

"The community loves the fact that there are places they can call when they find an injured wild animal that are knowledgeable and can give the animal a second chance," Reams explains. "When we received city permits, we had to go door to door explaining what we do, and the response was overwhelming in support."

Since volunteers work out of their homes, the organization doesn't currently have a place that people can come to and learn about what they do. Reams hopes this will change one day and that they will be able to teach the public about conservation and how it starts in your own backyard.

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About The Author

Rebecca Gaunt earned a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a...

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