Why so needy?

Peace River Wildlife Center is extremely grateful to our supporters who donate items from our wish lists.  Some of the things we request are pretty self-explanatory.  We feed bird seed to birds.  It’s not rocket science.  But why do we ask for puppy pee pads or hose nozzles?  Are we waterboarding young dogs here?

Many of the supplies we ask for are for housekeeping and cleaning purposes:  Wipes, soap, paper towels, etc.  Many of the provisions in that category can be satisfied by any brand or generics.  Sometimes we ask for a product by name just because it is common vernacular.  When we say we need Kleenex, we mean any kind of plain facial tissue (unscented, no lotion.) 

But occasionally we do ask for a brand name and there’s a reason for it.  When we must bathe an animal for some reason, we use original Dawn dishwashing detergent specifically.  We get birds that have gotten into discarded cooking oil or automotive grease.  We admit birds, snakes, and small mammals that have gotten stuck in glue traps, and the only way to free them safely is to gently coat them in an oily substance and slowly peel them off the glue board. 

Those creatures then have to be bathed in the grease-cutting Dawn to remove the oily substances from their feathers, fur, or scales.  No other soap we have tried has proven as safe and effective as Dawn.  (This is not a paid endorsement.)

Another brand-name item we love is the Scotch Brite scrub sponge.  Generic sponges may cost half the price, but they have to be replaced so quickly that they end up costing much more.  The cheapos just don’t hold up to the herculean task of scrubbing dried-on raccoon poo or mouse guts off cage walls and food dishes.  Things you didn’t know you didn’t know (nd wish you still didn’t.)

Sometimes we will ask for a specific product because we know it has the properties we require.  Heating pads are tricky because most of them have an automatic shut-off.  Product labels can bury that fact in hard-to-find places, or not mention it at all.  Through trial and error (lots of error!) we have found a few that will remain on constantly.  Constant steady heat on low is what our patients require.  It does us no good for a baby squirrel to get chilled every couple of hours, or to have a volunteer posted at the heating pad area to turn the pads back on as soon as they pop off. 

Food can be confusing for donors also.  While we realize many of our patients will go on to live lives in the wild where they may consider garbage a fine feast, we endeavor to feed fresh, wholesome foodstuffs here.  If you have half a bag of fresh kale that you know will go bad before you finish it, we will gladly take it for our rabbits and tortoises.  But that cantaloupe rind or rotten tomato is not something we can feed to any of our animals.  My philosophy is that if I wouldn’t eat it, I won’t feed it.

Some “cast-offs” are great, like the leafy tops of many vegetables (carrots, beets, etc.) if they are fresh.  We have gotten a plethora of fresh greens, fruits, and veggies from our friends at Warden Farms and many people in the community who shop there or grow their own crops.  These are not only grown without pesticides, but last much longer than store-bought produce because they truly are farm-fresh and haven’t already spent weeks in warehouses and on trucks.

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but we never feed bread or hotdogs to anything.  Never.  Ever.  If you have stale or moldy bread or crackers, please just throw them away, along with your potato skins, peach pits, and banana peels.  PRWC has many well-meaning supporters who unwittingly bring us their garbage, thinking we can use it to feed our animals.  We cannot.

If you are ever in doubt about donating something to us, just give us a call.  We can use the most unusual things that you might not have considered.  SSD or Silvadene cream that is prescribed for wound care management in people, often in excess, is a great topical medication for some of our patients—but it’s expensive for us to purchase.

Or we may just say, thanks, but no thanks.  Even some of the things we need most at times (such as sheets or towels) we may have too many of at other times.  With our extremely limited amount of storage space, we must be constantly cognizant of what we have and what we need on a daily basis.

If you are interested in helping PRWC by purchasing supplies for us, check out our web site at www.PRWildlife.org for our Wish List under the Support PRWC heading.  You can also link up to our Amazon wish list through the web site and order from there, support PRWC through the Smile charity program, and send supplies directly to us.

To answer the questions from earlier in this diatribe: We use the hose nozzles to keep the outdoor habitats clean.  We often hear people exclaim, astonished, “It doesn’t even stink here!”  Our volunteers clean each and every habitat and cage at least daily.  Some get cleaned numerous times a day.

The pee pads are placed on the cage floors of bunnies and certain other species that tend to be rather prolific poopers and/or might get their nails or talons stuck in the loops of towels.  We also use them for birds that have been affected by botulism or red tide and are partially paralyzed.  We make a “donut” out of a towel to support their heads and hold them in some semblance of a natural position.  Then we spread a pee pad over the makeshift “nest” to change as necessary to keep the bird clean and comfortable—well, as comfortable as they can be under the circumstances.

We appreciate our community’s support that allows us to provide care for the injured and orphaned wildlife of Charlotte County and beyond.  Every item donated to us stretches our budget even further.  Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we can provide close to a quarter million dollars in care to our patients and residents with a budget of only $100,000 a year.

by- Robin Jenkins, DVM

Lesser scaups snuggled in their “donuts”