Peace River Wildlife Center’s rehabber, Rick Andrews recently got one of those calls we all dread. His wife was calling from her mobile phone to his, after just having left the house minutes before. He answered with a laugh, assuming she had forgotten something. It was a stranger’s voice on the line, telling him his wife, Cindy, had been in a bad accident and was calling out for him.
Cindy is recovering from her relatively minor injuries, considering the extent of the damage done to her vehicle in the roll-over accident. She had been rendered unconscious for a time, but had revived by the time passers-by and the paramedics got there. They were concerned for her health and all she kept screaming about was, “the squirrels!” Everyone assumed she was still confused because of the head trauma she had suffered.
Rick finally made it to the scene but was unable to go to Cindy’s side, as the paramedics worked diligently to stabilize her injuries. He did however know what she was so agitated about. She was helping PRWC with home care for some baby squirrels that had been rescued after they had been orphaned when their mother was accidentally killed during a tree trimming. Cindy had taken them with her because they would need to be fed before she would return home later in the day. She had placed them in a fleece pouch, in a small plastic carrier on the seat beside her for her quick trip. As the police investigated the accident and the towing crew readied the car to haul it away, they would not allow Rick to go anywhere near the car either.
Having followed the ambulance to the hospital, Rick finally learned that Cindy had been extremely lucky. She had suffered a mild concussion and many cuts and bruises, but no life-threatening injuries. She was discharged from the emergency room within hours to begin her recovery at home. Once assured that his beloved wife was safe (and regardless of how much he jokes, we know he does love her!), Rick started worrying about the baby squirrels again.
Of course the accident happened on a Friday afternoon. It was late in the day by the time Rick called the towing service that had taken the car. Luckily they were still answering the phone when he called, but they were already closed for the day. He told the person who had answered the phone that there was something in the car that he had to find right away, but was told it would have to wait until Monday. Frantically he explained it was a live animal. The now sympathetic voice stated that if there was a dog or something in the car, it would have been noted at the time of the accident and taken to a shelter or handed off to a responsible party.
Now it was Rick’s turn to start screaming about “the squirrels!” At this point in the conversation, the voice at the other end of the line got very quiet. I’ll bet the people at a car towing service hear some crazy stories, just like we do at PRWC, a wildlife rehabilitation facility. But I’m pretty sure she had never heard that particular story before. To her credit, the disembodied voice told Rick he could come down to their place of business, but she wasn’t sure what good it would do him.
Rick flew to Prompt Towing Service as fast as he could. When he got there, he met the owner of the voice on the phone. A sympathetic Jessica Menzer told him that she was unable to allow Rick to go back in the yard where the vehicles were located; at this time of day there was no one to accompany him. She did have some good news though. She handed Rick a fuzzy pouch.
Inside were the two baby squirrels, fast asleep in each other’s embrace. There was no evidence of the container they had been in, other than a few broken pieces of plastic. After tumbling around in the car, the container had obviously broken apart but the squirrels stayed inside the pouch and were uninjured. Jessica had found them under one of the seats of the mangled car. She was probably curious about what this crazy man was rambling on and on about “squirrels” and exactly what it was he was really after. Turns out it truly was squirrels. And thanks to her big heart and a little bit of curiosity, Jessica rescued these babies a second time.
Cindy and the squirrels are recovering from their adventure. Jessica Menzer of Prompt Towing Service in Punta Gorda is our new hero for going out of her way to help us with this story’s happy ending. And wouldn’t Cindy and the Squirrels make a great name for a band?
by-Robin Jenkins, DVM