Here we are, 14 days into a shiny new year and I’m sure my loyal readers are dying to know how I am doing with my resolutions. I lasted a record 45 minutes on the eat-healthier decision. In my defense, I may have had the teensiest bit of a hangover on New Year’s Day and who would rightfully deny herself a nice frosty Pepsi loaded to the brim with sugar and caffeine under those conditions? Hmm, I don’t have a hangover now and I still want one. Some of my other proclamations were going much better. I had continued an exercise regime for a good seven to ten days before I hurt myself. I think I dislocated my shoulder putting on mascara. I’m not sure if that is an indication that I am pathetically out of shape or that I don’t wear make-up often enough. Luckily for me, the patients and residents at Peace River Wildlife Center do not care about either.
The year-end reports to US Fish and Wildlife Service are in and the results are encouraging. PRWC took in 2,095 injured and orphaned animals in 2015. Of that record number, we were able to have positive outcomes for 51% of them. A positive outcome for us is the release of a healthy animal (42%) or the placement of an unreleasable but otherwise healthy animal (6%). The remaining 3% of our patients admitted in 2015 are still pending and we anticipate positive outcomes for them. Some facilities skew these statistics by not counting any animal that does not survive the first 24 hours after admission since those fatally injured patients never really had a chance and do not reflect on the ability of the staff to provide capable care. Were we to use that accounting method our positive outcome ratio jets up to over 70%. We do count these admissions in an effort to show the total number of animals impacted from in and around the area and cared for by our highly competent and compassionate staff. These numbers show a trend toward more admissions (we have been just under the 2,000 mark for many years) and a lower mortality rate as our experienced staff gets ever more adept at handling these cases.
Many of the injuries we see at PRWC are similar to previous cases. Most days it is déjà vu all over again. So far this year we have taken in a raccoon with a plastic jar stuck on her head and a great horned owl that had gotten caught in a fence. Last year we had a raccoon with a glass jar stuck on her head and a great horned owl that had gotten caught in a fence. Luckily for the raccoon with the glass jar on her head, we were able to slip the jar off once she was anesthetized and relaxed. It actually slid off so easily I didn’t have time to take a picture so I replaced it, snapped my photo, and then almost couldn’t get it off again. Pulling on the jar with the raccoon’s head and neck extended made it impossible to get it over her jawline. After a few seconds of mental self-flagellation, I relaxed enough to think how it came off the first time. Bending the raccoons’ neck, I was able to roll the jar right off again. I did get a great photo, too.
The plastic jar was pretty snug on this year’s model and had to be cut off. A hole was drilled into the bottom of the jar for the administration of anesthetic gas. After cutting the jar off, our colleague Dr. Pam Wright from Animal Arc in Arcadia was able to treat the raccoon for a lesion under her chin with a long lasting antibiotic injection and a few days of good nutrition. The raccoon was released with a general admonition to stay away from garbage. We would also like to request that people rinse out their recyclables and trash before placing them in the can to keep wildlife from getting hurt while trying to find a tasty treat, whether it be a curbside or at the landfill.
An increase in patient load is inevitable for PRWC as more and more people discover what those of us who already live and vacation here know— Charlotte County and the surrounding areas are a unique and ideal place to be. The animals that lived here before us certainly agree. With a little forethought and education, we can make a difference in the lives of these displaced animals by being good neighbors. In the unfortunate event of an injury to wildlife, PRWC is there for both the animals and the community and we will continue to do so for many years to come. So even though I am not looking all that great, the future is looking bright for PRWC.
by- Robin Jenkins, DVM