Upon admission the animal is assessed for the extent of illness or injury. If medical care is necessary, it is quickly arranged with one of several veterinarians depending on the presumed initial diagnosis. There is generally no charge for most of the medical care provided by the veterinarians. However, usually there is a fee for medicines and testing. Some fantastic veterinarians donate all of the medical services and to them we are particularly grateful.
Most animals are admitted due to automobile collisions. This is especially true with raptors. Attacks, primarily from cats, and not as often from dogs, bring the smaller birds and mammals to our door. One of the reasons I prefer raptor rehabilitation is that I felt by assuaging their guilt I was enabling people to allow their cats to roam freely outside by providing a place for them to bring the victims of their cat. Cat attack victims must receive antibiotics to avoid infection or they will die.
Proper housing is extremely important for all facets of rehabilitation. Seclusion, heat, cleanliness and running water are essential in the primary stages of recuperation. Initially the patient is housed in a small indoor cage in the intensive care area. Cage size increases as the healing progresses. Once the patient regains full mobility it can be moved to outside quarters upon re-acclimating to the weather. Again, the patient is moved through stages to larger and more open to the elements housing until the time of pre-release. Pre-release conditioning consists of re-acclimating to the outside, exercise, weather, waterproof reconditioning, feeding self-suffiency and returning to peak physical condition so that upon release the patient will be able to survive on its own in its natural habitat. During this time, contact with the caregiver is minimized even more stringently so as to continue not to habituate the animal to humans.
Some animals are orphaned. The importance of phoning before rescuing a presumed orphan cannot be stressed enough. There is an old rehab slogan that is easy to keep in the back of your mind: "If you love it, leave it there." The other thing you can do is to keep pets indoors or supervised when outdoors during baby season. Young birds and mammals need time to develop and learn survival instincts. This is the time they are extremely vulnerable and a bell on a cat isnít an adequate deterrent.
A red-shouldered hawk nestling that fell from his scantily constructed nest..He came in with an injured wing, head trauma, and maggots in his ear. He was released.
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