Happy Tricky Day?


#TurkeyDay?

Thanksgiving is a tricky holiday for many of us in the United States.

We like the gratitude part, and the getting together with friends and family.

And the feasts.

The celebrated slaughter and gluttonous consumption of tens of millions of birds, though… For many of us, that doesn’t sit well at all.

What’s the adage… Tradition will accustom one to any atrocity?

We’re also uncomfortable with the holiday’s origin in this country. It paints an idyllic picture of harmony between colonists and indigenous people, a breaking of bread, a collaboration.

Native Americans have not fared well in this relationship in the intervening years. Thanksgiving also was founded at the same time the first ships were arriving on the eastern shores with kidnapped Africans.

At Animal Help Now, we value nonviolence. We value life. And we love and respect turkeys, whether wild or domestic.

And we love our friends. And we love food. We recognize just how important it is to be grateful for all we have.

So, yes. It’s a tricky holiday. Happy… #TrickyDay?


Putnam County, Missouri: A long way from justice


A report today from the Missouri Department of Conservation confirms: The Missouri boys who recorded videos of themselves enthusiastically cornering and beating to death with baseball bats several raccoons in what certainly qualifies for felony prosecution have been given… a good talking to.

Because the perpetrators of this vicious attack were juveniles, the Putnam County Court is unable to divulge the exact penalties levied, but Animal Help Now was able to confirm the boys were ordered to take a hunting education class, and that… appears… to be… about… it.

The boy who posted the video on social media just posted an image of himself with an animal he killed this month. So one presumes his hunting and social media privileges weren’t revoked.

smiling teen hunter posting in field with adult deer he killed
“I put the hammer down on this big ole buck could not be happier”.

This likely means he also didn’t lose his trapping privileges – a dreadful thought, considering many of these animals will be alive when he shows up, with no one around, to “dispatch” them.

The same is likely true for his buddies. A good talking to. If that.


Despite good intentions, trapping and relocating wildlife is often a death sentence


Need an argument-ending argument on the contentious issue of whether or not #trapping and #relocating wildlife is humane?

When Jack Murphy from Urban Wildlife Rescue Inc endorses an article on humane wildlife control, our ears prick up. And when we see the author is Katherine McGill from 411 Raccoon Solutions (FL), we’re all in.

This is such an important read. It was written for humane wildlife control operators, but it’s chock-full of good information for the rest of us. Please give it the attention it deserves and have it ready next time you see some amateurs on FB or Nextdoor spouting off on what does and doesn’t work when it comes to “nuisance” wildlife.

Successful catch or utter failure? The perils of trapping and relocating.
by Katherine McGill, 411 Raccoon Solutions

You never know if the animal you caught is the “guilty party”, or just one drawn to the free meal in your trap. Pretty much any 10 year old can bait a trap and catch something. Frankly, it is downright lazy and cruel – and ineffective. You dump this animal miles away and believe you spared his or her life.

Hopefully, the animal was not a mother and her babies were not left to perish, slowly. When they are found, even if they are alive, it is too late for any happy ending. Their mother is long gone, having gone frantic for being separated from them, terrified in a foreign land… while we tell ourselves how lucky she is to have been relocated?? These heartbroken now-orphans will cost a volunteer rehabilitator several hundred dollars, months of time, risk of communicable shelter disease, and less-than-optimum survival skills without their mother. Now, multiply this one single “good deed” times tens of thousands, year after year… Is that humane? For whom?

Fact: When resolving a “nuisance” animal issue, there is no such thing as “humane trapping and relocation”.

Fact: There is no idyllic place where existing animals welcome newcomers dumped in their territory. None.

As of this writing, we have 15 years of GPS raccoon translocation studies to prove this isn’t humane and has poor survival rates – just 18%. We have hard science proving conflicts are best resolved in situ; i.e., on site, and not with removal. More than 90% of conflicts today can be resolved without removing the animal.

With rules and regulations that allow people to freely trap and relocate wildlife while knowing it is by far the undesirable approach, what can we do as advocates to ensure proper actions are taken and that the science (and our intent to do our best by them) is upheld and better achieved?

1) Recommend people to the most qualified sources we have available to us today. Know your own limitations in this field, especially if you are not a trained humane wildlife conflict operator. Most people will appreciate your suggestions and compassion, but make no mistake that they still want their resolution ASAP. If suggestions are all you can offer, get better at them. If you’re an HWCO, never “close” an inquiry without putting the number of a trusted HWCO in their hands.

Animal Help Now offers the most complete listing of humane wildlife conflict operators (HWCOs). Simply click “Wildlife Conflict” to find operators in your area.

Even if there is no HWCO close by, you will still be provided with nationwide consultants who will provide guidance free of charge. Most of these Specialists will help people to hire and properly guide a local NWCO provider. They, the paying customer, can dictate what methods are used by any NWCO they need to hire if they know specifically what to demand is done. (NWCO = “Nuisance” wildlife control operator, AKA “trapper”.)

2) Do not throw out a dozen “remedies” as if they alone are silver-bullet complete resolutions, especially without knowing the full story and circumstances. Wildlife conflict resolution involves many steps, with a critical goal of an end result that does not harm animals and prevents the conflict from happening again.

The more these “humane remedies” are bandied about the more they risk failing. Any failure results in less respect and traction for the HWCO industry to prevail and change the paradigm. (The conventional trapping industry loves it when a humane idea fails, and they love to talk about that time it failed as if it always fails.)

3) Do not rush to get babies to a rehabilitator until it is the absolute last resort. Job #1 is to reunite healthy babies with their mothers. Please know your limitations on advising reuniting steps. What works for one age may be unsafe for another age, etc. Nothing feels more awesome than succeeding with a reunite! ❤

Never accept assertions that “there’s no mother around.” Push for more information; more often than not this reveals the possibility she still is.

4) Change your state “nuisance” rules and regulations, get engaged. As long as the rules allow our wildlife to be killed/removed merely for being seen, we are all failing. By all of us, I mean every human on this planet. Every advocate, every “science-abiding” state agency, every animal control law enforcement department charged with upholding state animal cruelty statutes, and every conventional operator selling the worst (the least effective and most expensive) services/solutions to uninformed consumers.

Change starts with you! ❤


Nobody Cares! … or do they?


A desperate chorus rises each year as spring turns into summer, and wildlife rehabilitators across the country approach or reach capacity.

It can be nearly impossible in many parts of the United States to find help for wildlife emergencies at this time of year (wildlife baby season and migration). This is tragic for the animals who need help, and it’s tragic for the good humans who are trying to help them.

A familiar refrain of frustration returns to social media, email inboxes, and voicemail messages from the would-be rescuers: Nobody cares!

We created Animal Help Now specifically because of the difficulty of finding wildlife emergency assistance in the United States (though, to be sure, it’s a planet-wide problem). With our app we have solved the problem of finding the closest and most appropriate help for wildlife emergencies – and conflicts! – but that doesn’t mean more help is available. It doesn’t mean this country has suddenly developed an appreciation for wildlife rehabilitation. It doesn’t mean wildlife agencies are making it easier to rehabilitate wildlife. It doesn’t mean government funding is available to support rehabilitation centers and hotlines.

It doesn’t mean our communities have come together to develop systemic approaches to mitigating the ubiquitous anthropogenic threats (cat and dog attacks, window strikes, motor vehicle strikes, poorly executed “nuisance” wildlife control, etc.) that result in millions of wild animals getting injured and killed in the United States every day.

Wildlife ambulances should not be the stuff of science fiction.

As your stomach turns and you jump into action after hearing the dreaded thump of a bird hitting a window, seeing a bleeding and broken-shelled turtle in the road, encountering your neighbor’s outdoor cat with a bird in her mouth, you know instantly that you will need help as quickly as possible. And it is gut-wrenchingly tragic (to the empathetic among us) that sometimes there simply is no help. When no help is available, when your only option might be to find a veterinarian who will euthanize the animal, you are rightly anguished, sad, angry….

And you may lash out. Nobody cares!

But of course that’s not true. You care. The hundreds of people looking for help for another animal in need in some other place but at the exact same time you are – they care. The volunteers who do the work to get licensed to rehabilitate wildlife and who often work out of their homes, covering their own expenses, doing their best to get phone calls returned between feedings, having compromised sleep for months on end – they care. The paid staff and volunteers serving wildlife rehabilitation centers, rescues, and hotlines care. The veterinarians who are willing to stabilize wildlife care. Many wildlife and law enforcement agents care.

AHNow’s volunteers, paid staff, and financial supporters care.

It may be fair to say that more people care than do not!

We simply must make this a safer world for wildlife and lift up wildlife rehabilitation where it belongs. Animal Help Now lays it out in its vision statement.

Animal Help Now envisions a world in which humans:

  • Respect wildlife
  • Are familiar with threats facing wildlife and act to minimize them
  • Are educated about wildlife emergencies and empowered to effectively help orphaned, injured and distressed wild animals
  • Are educated about living in harmony with wildlife and empowered to effectively and humanely resolve human/wildlife conflicts
  • Place high value on the services provided by wildlife rehabilitators, humane wildlife conflict operators and other wildlife experts

This is going to take a society-wide effort, from businesses to HOAs to all levels of government. State legislatures and state wildlife agencies and the commissions that direct them, in particular, can and must do better. More than enough people care. More than enough to effect such changes, that is. We just have to be better organized, better directed, and a bit quicker about it.


Pre-treating Trash and Recyclables for the Benefit of Wildlife


As we barge through these first decades of the anthropocene – anthroobscene? – we’re getting reminders every day of the damage humans are doing to the planet and to our fellow earthlings. Who isn’t sickened by the sight of a starving polar bear, elephants rummaging through trash, or a crushed turtle in a road left to slowly die?

Photo of herd of elephants rummaging through mound of trash.
Elephants forage for food in a Sri Lankan landfill.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the melting ice caps, ever-increasing light pollution, the ongoing destruction of rainforests, coral reefs, prairies and other wildlife homes to feed the ever-widening maw of homo sapiens, … These obscenities require COVID-level crisis response. They’re not getting it.

Monied interests of course tend to be quite comfortable with the status quo. Bayer/Monsanto will fight like hell to keep RoundUp on the market. Oil companies will fight like hell to build new pipelines. Plastics manufacturers will go so far as to blame consumers for the plastic that has found its way into the air and indeed into our bodies.

Some of us have the time, energy, and inclination to fight big fights. Some of us do the best we can with limited time, energy, or inclination. Whichever group you’re in, you can be a part of the growing effort to make your trash and recyclables less hazardous to wildlife.

Duck caught in six-pack ring.

It started with the plastic six-pack rings, of course, when we saw the malformed bodies of reptiles ensnared in them from an early age. Now many of us automatically slice up these rings before discarding them.

And that’s a good thing, unless of course that makes them more appealing meals for seabirds and marine animals, but that’s another story. Either way, we need to do a lot more. Most of us cannot be sure that our trash or our recycling won’t end up exposed to wildlife in a landfill or even in a body of water somewhere. So before you toss anything into the trash or recycling bin, think twice about whether it – like an intact six-pack ring – may pose a threat to wildlife.

Here are some we’ve identified:

Graphic showing trash and recycling that can pose threats to wildlife. Contact AHNow.org for details.

Note: The content of this graphic is by no means set in stone. If you have any input on how we can improve it, please let us know!

Limit your purchase of single-use materials! Buy bulk when you can. Reuse bags, boxes, twist ties, and the like.

Finally, we’d be remiss to not mention fishing line. Animal Help Now constantly gets reports of animals, mostly waterfowl, ensnared in discarded fishing line. If you spend anytime near areas where humans fish, be on the lookout. The tool you carry to snip discarded masks may very well help you remove this threat from the homes of our wildlife neighbors. And if you see someone discard a line, either confront that person or take good notes of the time, location, person’s description, license plate, whatnot, and contact law enforcement.


Opossum Drops Remain a Threat


Two years ago tonight – on the eve of 2019 – an #opossum with a broken and severely infected leg was hoisted up in a plexiglas box from a #NorthCarolina stage in a thunderstorm, while a band played raucous music to a raucous crowd, then lowered at midnight, continuing a sick tradition in the vein of diving mules and bicycle-riding bears.

Millie was rescued after the event, but she lost her leg – it couldn’t be saved. In the time since, she has recovered through loving care at The Opossum’s Pouch Sanctuary, Rescue and Rehabilitation and has learned to trust humans again. Sadly, though Millie’s caregiver and The Opossum’s Pouch director, Beth Sparks, tells us this gentle survivor is nearing the end of her life, with late-stage congestive heart failure.

Recurring claims, including recent ones from trusted animal organizations, that opossum “drops” have been outlawed in North Carolina are unfounded.

So much hatred is directed toward opossums. There’s a lot to unpack around that. Efforts led by Beth, (ItsMe)Sesame, and others are making progress, but it’s up to all of us to go to bat for these shy and gentle animals.

Animal Help Now, The Opossum’s Pouch, and our partners will continue to fight for the abolition of this anachronistic “tradition” again in 2021, with, as she is especially today, Millie in our hearts.


Tax-deductible contributions: Learning along the way


I’ve been directing small nonprofits for 25 years, and I’m finally accepting the reality that fundraising is an essential aspect of the work of a small nonprofit’s executive director.

This is a bark and bite thing. The bite is not so bad, in large part because Animal Help Now offers popular and effective services on a shoestring budget.

Like you, I imagine, I’m seeing a lot of year-end appeals for funding, most of them mentioning CARES Act provisions dealing with contributions to nonprofit organizations. Having never really fully understood tax deduction, I was compelled to reach out to a CPA friend for guidance on this. I am compelled to understand taxes as they relate to Animal Help Now and our supporters, because I need every angle I can get to make a honest and compelling case for donations to our lifesaving nonprofit.

With that, here’s where I am today. Many of you will find nothing new in these paragraphs; they’re written more for people like me who are confused about the whole charitable tax deduction thing.

Donations made to nonprofit 501(c)3 organizations such as Animal Help Now may be tax deductible, meaning under certain circumstances the amount of the donation – or some percentage of that amount – can be subtracted from your taxable gross income. These deductions are not available to taxpayers who take a standard deduction (i.e., those who do not itemize).

The CARES Act has changed things a bit for 2020. Taxpayers who take a standard deduction may take an additional amount of up to $300 for qualifying contributions made to nonprofit 501(c)3 organizations. Taxpayers who itemize deductions may deduct contributions made to nonprofit 501(c)3 organizations up to 100% of adjusted gross income. (versus the standard 60%).

Donating to nonprofits never saves a person money under standard methods of accounting, but smart giving certainly can stretch the good you do with your donor dollars. Please see your tax adviser for specific guidance on how to make the most of your charitable contributions.

Be smart out there! And safe!

Donation button

Guest Blog: Animal adoptions are up. Considering one? Read this first!


All around the world, people are spending more time at home. So it only makes sense that so many people are considering adding a dog, cat, or other animal companion to their families. After all, having an animal companion can be a win-win: the animal gets a home, and everyone gets love. As an added benefit for humans, especially during a pandemic, is the proven stress relief “pets” can provide. A stay-at-home order also gives us extra time to help new arrivals adjust to their new homes. 

Now, if you want to help wildlife, Animal Help Now has all of the resources you need. However, if you are thinking about adopting or fostering a domestic animal, the following FAQs should be helpful.

Foster? Adopt? Other?

From adopting to fostering to volunteering, there are countless ways to make a positive difference in the lives of dogs, cats, and other companion animals. 

Guidelines

How Can I Prepare My Home and Life for an Animal?

Whether you adopt or foster, you will need some basics to keep that new pet healthy and happy. 

How Can I Deal with Common New “Pet” Problems? 

Animals can take time to adjust and learn routines, so be prepared to stay calm and patient. In addition:

Helping a homeless animal can give you such an extra sense of purpose during the pandemic. Whether you have the time and resources to adopt, foster, or volunteer, consider making room in your life for animals in need.

Author: Aurora James, DogEtiquette.info

For further reading, see https://www.directline.com/pet-cover/magazine/rescue-animals.

Photo Credit: Pexels


What to Do When You See an Opossum in Trouble on the Road


Help! There’s an injured or possibly dead opossum in the road. What should I do?

If you can safely do so, it’s generally a good idea to stop when you find an animal in the road, whether the animal is dead or alive. Helping a live animal off the road and getting the animal into care – even if the only care option is euthanasia – is the right thing to do. Moving a dead animal out of the road will decrease the chances that animals scavenging the body will themselves become victims of a vehicle strike. (It’s important to always have sturdy gloves in your car for just this need.)

Opossums present a special case, as they are marsupials. In fact, they’re the only marsupial in North America! As such, an injured or dead opossum may be a mother with babies in her pouch.

If the opossum is in the road, move him/her to the shoulder.

If the animal is alive, get him/her into a box or other carrier and use Animal Help Now’s wildlife emergency service app to find the nearest emergency assistance.

If you are uncertain whether or not the animal is alive, gently touch the animal’s back feet and eyes and face, check for any movement as you do so. If the animal is alive, get her into a box or other carrier and use Animal Help Now’s wildlife emergency service to find the nearest emergency assistance.

If the animal is dead and has a pouch, check for babies in the pouch. You can do so by gently lifting up the skin on the pouch and peeking inside. If there are babies in the pouch, you will need to take the mom’s body as is to a rehabilitator.

Note: If for some reason taking the mom’s body is not possible, you can transfer the babies to a warm container or carrier with a towel or blanket, but this is an extremely delicate procedure.

We suggest keeping an animal rescue kit (https://ahnow.org/kits) in your vehicle.

Animal Help Now makes finding a wildlife rehabilitator easier than ever. AHNow’s wildlife emergency service is available on the web at www.AHNow.org and as a free smartphone app (iPhone and Android).


Helping Injured, Potentially Orphaned, or Distressed Wildlife in the Time of COVID-19.


Animal Help Now (AHNow) is in a unique position in the world of wildlife rehabilitation. The very nature of our work gives us more access than anyone to US wildlife rehabilitators.

Today we approached our focus group – a diverse cross-section of the country’s rehabilitators – asking them whether or not the coronavirus pandemic is affecting them; if so, how; and what changes, if any, they have made to their daily routines.

Their responses were reassuring. First and foremost, they seemed in agreement that the virus was not adversely impacting the US public’s willingness to assist injured, potentially orphaned, or distressed wildlife. This is good and right, as there is no known coronavirus transmission risk for people safely handling wildlife anywhere in the world, let alone the United States.

Of course, members of the public should always practice universal precautions for handling wildlife*, for the safety of both the human animal and whatever animal the human is helping.

The respondents pointed up the need for wildlife rehabilitators to be cautious when interacting with a member of the public who brings an animal to a facility. States rehabilitator Judy P: “[W]ildlife rehabilitators [may designate] only one small area for intakes, which can be disinfected after each use; have the public use hand sanitizer upon entering the premises; etc.” Judy adds, “I will be doing intakes on my porch – I work at home – and won’t let people inside the house.”

Rehabilitators at Nature’s Nurse have added (and recommend) the following safety measure for babies: “We place a carrier with a heating pad under it on our porch. We ask the finder to place the babies in the carrier and take all boxes and towels with them when they leave, and then immediately text or call, at which point we will come out and grab the babies.”

Rehabilitator Arianna M states, “We’ve doubled up on deep cleaning and routine cleaning of our center.”

As to the risk of transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control, “Early on, many of the patients at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. Later, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread.”

Which is to say, with what we know now, and in accordance with what you’ve been told, the human animal is the threat.

We’d be remiss to not end this piece with a reminder (verbatim from Johns Hopkins): Prevention involves frequent hand-washing, coughing into the bend of your elbow, and staying home when you are sick.

With hand sanitizer in high demand, you might benefit from this DIY guidance.

The American Veterinary Medical Association offers additional information, particularly with regard to protecting domestic animals, in this guide for veterinarians and these FAQs.

* As to universal precautions on handling injured, potentially orphaned, or distressed wildlife, AHNow advises:

  • To protect yourself from disease and injury (1) never approach or attempt to rescue an animal who is behaving abnormally (circling, staggering, etc.) or shows signs of disease (salivating, discharge from the eyes or nose, etc.) and (2) always wear thick gloves whenever handling wildlife.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands before and after handling wildlife.
  • Especially when respiratory risk is high, such as during this pandemic, wear a mask and protect your eyes when handling wildlife.
  • Exercise caution and good judgment and consult with the experts we’ll direct you to before handling, transporting, or otherwise disturbing a wild animal. Refer to our resources page for more information.